The Jade peony is a story which expresses deep love between a grandmother and her grandson through many actions and symbols. The most important symbol in this story is a jade peony, which belongs to Sek Lungs grandmother – who eventually passes it on to her grandson. The grandma had the most influence on Sek Lung throughout his childhood. The boy had lung infection wrongly diagnosed as TB, so he was not able to go to school; therefore, he spent the majority of his time with his grandmother.
The young boy came to see all of the great things about his grandmother, while the others in his family said that their grandma was “inconvenient”. Sek Lung’s grandmother was very close to death and the young boy was scared for the day of her passing, as he “could not imagine how she could ever part from” him. The grandmother always tried to reassure him by saying “you know little son, whatever happens I will never leave you. ” Throughout the story, the grandma treated the jade peony as an indispensable part of her body.
She said that the jade peony was the “colour of her spirit,” in other words, her soul would live eternally with the peony. Right after the grandmothers death, Sek Lung put his hand in his pocket to find out that his grandmother had placed the peony here when he was asleep. When Sek Lung held the Jade Peony in his hand he “saw his grandmamma smile and heard, softly, the pink centre beat like a beautiful cramped heart”, which gave him reassurance. Through this act, Sek ungs grandmother managed to bring happiness to Sek Lung by giving him the Peony to remember her by, instead of mourning over her death.
We are told in the story that the grandmother has a problem with rooting around in garbage cans and collecting “useless” items. Through the image of his grandmother, the jade peony taught Sek Lung to appreciate the small things in life. When the rest of Sek Lung’s family looked down upon the grandmother for her traditions, Sek Lung realised the importance of them. The importance of the jade peony to the grandmother was immense; it was given to her when she was younger by a “juggler”, who she loved very much.
The grandmother then passed the jade peony on to her grandson in hopes of him recognizing and reminiscing on all of the special things in his grandmother’s life. The jade peony was a symbol showing that the most special things in life, such as love (like the juggler and the grandmother’s love) cannot be bought. We know that Sek Lung thought his time spent with his grandmother was important because he said that is was “the countless hours I spent with Grandmamma that were my real education”.
Sek Lung gained much education from his grandmother. This story makes much reference to the Chinese culture and how it is dying down; especially in this familys situation, as the majority of the family disregards the culture. The grandson is the only one who seems interested in their old Chinese culture and he spends much time learning the cultural values from his grandma. The grandma had the jade peony throughout her whole life, and became a very important item to her.