The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber; Volume 1: The Golden Days Short Essay - Answer Key

Cao Xueqin
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1. How does the author make it clear in Chapter 1 that the reader should expect an element of the supernatural in the novel?

The very first moments of the novel center on the goddess Nu-wa's exploits, suggesting that the novel will be openly accepting of a supernatural influence. This is revealed even more strongly as a stone is shown to have its own character and capable of conversation with a mortal man. Through these episodes, the reader is quickly placed in a reality in which the influence of otherworldly forces is acknowledged and understood.

2. Explain the symbol of Greensickness Peak in relation to the rest of the novel.

Greensickness Peak is where the stone is left sitting dejected and useless. Its name is a direct indication of its meaning, being the place where the stone--a piece of green jade-- feels most unhappy and, arguably, sick of mind. This name is also a foreshadowing of the many characters who become ill after coming into contact with Bao-yu, who is the mortal incarnation of the stone, as well as Bao-yu himself becoming sick.

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