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The threads of the story are clearly in the hands of Winnie, the prime narrator. The mode of narration resembles a confession-a mother disclosing her past life to her daughter. Winnie’s confession is not voluntary. Her friend Helen forces her tell everything to her daughter. Helen, therefore is the instrument for the exposition.
Winnie narrates the story in flashbacks. Each and every stage of her life is clearly exemplified. The story begins with the memories of a six-year-old, about her mother who she loves intensely. At such a tender age she experiences the pangs of separation when her mother suddenly disappears from her life. Till her marriage to Wen Fu, Winnie lives in Tsungming Island where her treatment is no better than that of an orphan.
Her marriage to Wen Fu is the worst phase of her life. The utter humiliation meted out to her by Wen Fu makes her feel that she, Wen Fu’s wife is no better than Min, his concubine.
Her brave escape from his clutches forms the climax of the story. In all her hardships, she has the support of Helen, Auntie Du, and Jimmy Louie. Though some of Helen’s attempts to help her out make things worse, she remains loyal to Winnie till the end. Jimmy’s deep love and affection for Winnie becomes her strength, to fight against Wen Fu.
Her ultimate union with Jimmy Louie is the result of her bold step to gain freedom from Wen Fu. Winnie has to endure various hardships in prison, which she chooses over going back to him as his wife. He never leaves her alone. Winnie can never forgive Wen Fu for all that she has had to suffer and more so because of the deaths of her innocent children. Winnie holds Wen Fu responsible for all these tragedies.
Her past life is narrated in flashbacks and the beginning and the ending chapters deal with Winnie’s present life. Even when Winnie narrates the incidents of her past life, she at times interrupts her story by connecting the particular episode of the past with something similar that is happening in the present. This does not, in any way, dampen the lively spirit and flow of the story. Rather, it helps the reader to understand the aspects better.