Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories Characters

Yiyun Li
This Study Guide consists of approximately 36 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl.
This section contains 1,614 words
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Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories Summary & Study Guide Description

Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Gold Boy, Emerald Girl: Stories by Yiyun Li.

Moyanappears in Kindness

Moyan is a deeply confused and lonely girl when she enters the army. Moyan has been told by a neighbor that she is adopted and that her parents have lied to her about her heritage. The fact that her parents married for convenience so that her mother would not have to be sent to a mental hospital is also kept from Moyan. When she learns all this, Moyan becomes confused. Moyan turns to the only person she believes she can trust, Professor Shan, the same neighbor who told her these rumors.

In the army Moyan isolates herself, telling herself that she prefers her own company and the company of nature to that of the other girls. However, Moyan becomes obsessed with the other girls, particularly a girl named Nan. Nan is a singer with the voice of an angel that everyone really likes. Moyan finds herself wondering where the pain comes from that Nan is able to inject into her music. Moyan is fascinated with Nan but at the same time is jealous of her easy ability to befriend everyone around her.

In the army, Moyan's teacher, Lieutenant Wei, makes multiple attempts at befriending Moyan. The reader is aware, even though Moyan is not, that Lieutenant Wei has homosexual tendencies that appear to be aimed at Moyan. Moyan rejects each of Lieutenant Wei's attempts at friendship, even ignoring letters from Lieutenant Wei after she leaves the army.

Moyan learned from her mother that love can lead to heartbreak. From her father as well, Moyan can see what loving someone who does not return the sentiment can do. Therefore when Professor Shan tells Moyan to avoid love at all costs, she takes her advice. In the end, however, Moyan ends up alone and miserable without a husband, children, or anyone to care what happens to her, not unlike Professor Shan.

Lieutenant Weiappears in Kindness

Lieutenant Wei is a military training officer at the army camp where Moyan goes after she graduates high school. Lieutenant Wei takes a special interest in Moyan and tries to befriend her, but on several occasions Moyan pushes her away. Later in life Moyan will think of Lieutenant Wei with what she wants the reader to believe is fear and disdain, but the reader eventually comes to realize that Lieutenant Wei only wanted to help Moyan and was hurt by her final rejection.

Over the years Lieutenant Wei sent Moyan two letters, a wedding announcement, and a death announcement. Moyan is unsure why she receives these items, but the reader can see clearly that Lieutenant Wei loved Moyan in a way that Moyan could not understand because of her difficulties with her parents.

Professor Shanappears in Kindness

Professor Shan is a lonely teacher who lives in Moyan's community when she is a child. Professor Shan seeks Moyan out and brings her to her home, teaching her English and reading great literature with her. Professor Shan also tells Moyan the truth about her parents' past. From Professor Shan, Moyan learns that she is adopted and from that begins to suspect her parents have never been truthful with her. Therefore when Professor Shan tells Moyan she should resist love and not let it interfere with her life, Moyan takes her word and rejects love.

Professor Shan is a lonely woman. It is rumored that her husband moved to America and began a restaurant there with a younger woman. Professor Shan also has two children that live in America as well. Professor has been abandoned and has nothing but her books to keep her company. However, the difference between Professor Shan and Moyan is that Professor Shan's children come home to bury her, but Moyan has no children.

Mother and Father appears in Kindness

From her earliest memories, Moyan's mother has been sick. Moyan has never been given a clear reason for her mother's illness, therefore she often made up illnesses for her mother as a child. When she befriends Professor Shan, Moyan learns that her mother had once fancied herself in love with a married man who claimed it was all in the young woman's mind. The family, embarrassed by the scandal, married their daughter to a much older man to protect their own reputation. For this reason, Moyan's mother lives her life in her romance novels, refusing to interact with the real world because of her broken heart.

At the same time, Moyan's father is a strong, responsible man who works as a janitor for a local store. Moyan's father is in love with his wife and he fights to keep her alive and healthy despite her disinterest in life. When Moyan's mother dies, her father is devastated by it. The man knows that his wife never loved him and he is heartbroken that in twenty years he had never been able to make her fall in love with him. He dies within a year of his wife.

Teacher Feiappears in A Man Like Him

Teacher Fei had been a young man when he was accused of sexually molesting a female student in his art class. After living with the humiliation of his philosopher father being forced to clean toilets for a living, Teacher Fei is devastated by this unfair accusation. Although a mural Teacher Fei painted saves his career, he lives with this rumor for the rest of his life, leaving him unable to marry or to ever take a lover.

When Teacher Fei learns about a young girl who has accused her father of infidelity and started a blog with the intention of ending his career and reputation, he becomes fascinated. When the girl refuses to leave his negative comments on her blog, Teacher Fei reaches out to the father. Teacher Fei tells the man his own story and they find a common thread to their experiences. However, it changes nothing.

Yilanappears in Prison

Yilan is a middle aged woman who uprooted her life in order to give her daughter a better start in life. This sacrifice proves to be for nothing when her daughter is killed in a car accident. Yilan feels as though her purpose in life is gone and decides to have another child. Yilan's husband does not want to adopt, but wants to hire a surrogate to give them a child of their own. Yilan agrees, but soon finds herself unable to chose the woman who will give birth to her child because it requires the woman to abandon her own child, something Yilan cannot imagine.

Yilan eventually picks a woman who has lost her own child and who reminds her of her daughter. It seems like the ideal situation. However, this woman figures out that she holds all the cards as long as she carries Yilan's children in her belly and in this way keeps Yilan a prisoner until the day of the births.

Fusang appears in Prison

Fusang is an uneducated young woman who has been sold to the parents of her husband to force her to marry a mentally disabled man. When the woman gives birth to a son, she is afraid for the future of that son, therefore she sells him to some traders. The woman believes she has done what is best for her child. However, when Fusang finds her son in the city after becoming a surrogate for Yilan, she blackmails Yilan into helping her get her son back.

Fusang has been a prisoner of circumstances all her life. When she meets Yilan, she sees her as a means to get out of her current prison, marriage to a mentally disabled man. Fusang becomes the jailer to Yilan, holding her unborn babies prisoner to force Yilan to bend to her will.

Mrs. Moappears in House Fire

Mrs. Mo has been a widow for many years. Mrs. Mo's husband died when he stepped in front of a bus. Mrs. Mo's friends thinks she should remarry, but Mrs. Mo enjoys her freedom to do as she pleases. Toward the end of House Fire, the reader learns the reason Mrs. Mo is so happy in her single life is because the man to whom she was married, the man she loved for so long, was a homosexual. Mrs. Mo's husband carried on a decades long affair with another man throughout their marriage and his death was a carefully orchestrated suicide. It was a difficult situation and Mrs. Mo is content to never go through something similar again.

Meilanappears in Number Three, Garden Road

Meilan is a middle aged woman who has been married twice only to divorce twice because of infidelity. Meilan returns home to her parents' old apartment only to discover the man she had a crush on throughout her childhood remains there. Meilan tries to seduce the man but he rarely takes notice of her. Finally Meilan corners him in his own home and talks to him of the past, reminding him of a better time. Meilan suggests that he might find a substitute in her for his loss. In the end, they find some kind of contentment in one another's company.

Siyuappears in Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

Siyu is a gentle woman who was raised by her father. Siyu has been in love with her college zoology professor since she began college. When her professor asks Siyu to go out with her son, she goes willingly with the hopes of pleasing her professor. In the end, Siyu learns that her professor wants her to marry the son so that the three of them might live together in quiet peace. Siyu is excited by this idea, no longer content to be kept from the woman she loves.

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