Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 5, 2024
February 27, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Amy Tan’s fiction, including
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, often focuses on the Chinese-American experience, and the bond between mothers and daughters. Tan’s interest in these themes comes from the circumstances of her own life. She was born in Oakland, California, in 1952. Her parents immigrated from China, and Tan’s experience growing up as the American child of Chinese parents shaped her identity and her writing. Tan has openly spoken about her difficult relationship with her mother, and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters is a major theme in many of her novels. Tan’s mother kept significant aspects of her own past secret for years, and only revealed them once Tan was grown. For example, Tan eventually learned that her mother had been previously married and had children from this marriage, whom she left behind in China. As an adult, Tan travelled to China with her mother to meet the half-sisters she had never known. The idea that mothers have secret pasts unknown to their daughters is an important theme in Tan’s fiction, appearing in
The Joy Luck Club and
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, two of Tan’s acclaimed novels.
Details drawn from Tan’s life and family history appear in
The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Tan’s maternal grandmother committed suicide when Tan’s mother, Daisy, was young, and throughout Tan’s childhood and adolescence, Daisy often threated to commit suicide herself. Because of the trauma she experienced in China, Daisy was regularly preoccupied with the idea of curses and ill fate. Around the time Tan began writing
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Daisy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and she died before the novel was completed. When she was a college student, Tan’s roommate was murdered, and due to the trauma of identifying the body, she temporarily lost the ability to speak. For years afterward, she would lose the ability to speak on the anniversary of the murder. All of these details appear in the novel in some form.
Tan also interweaves historical events into the plot of
The Bonesetter’s Daughter. In 1927, a team of scientists began a formal excavation of a site in Zhoukoudian, China. They discovered fossilized remains of a previously unknown subspecies of the prehistoric species
Homo erectus (a species of archaic human). This discovery attracted worldwide attention, and excavations yielded approximately 200 fossils from at least 40 different specimens. The subspecies became known as Peking Man, and was widely celebrated as an important archaeological discovery that could shed important light on the history of human evolution. In 1937, the excavations ceased due to the outbreak of war between China and Japan. The fossils were first stored at Union Medical College in Peking in hopes that excavation could resume after the end of the war, but as hostilities increased, it became too dangerous to leave the fossils in Peking. In 1941, the fossils were packed up to be shipped to the United States but vanished en route. They have still never been located, and the disappearance remains unexplained.
While the excavation of the Peking Man represents a specific historical event, the broader scope of twentieth-century Chinese history creates another important context for the
The Bonesetter’s Daughter. In the novel, LuLing is born in 1916, when her mother is approximately twenty years old, which means that Precious Auntie is born some time at the very end of the nineteenth century, when China is still under imperial rule. By this time, however, the Emperor had lost significant power. In 1912, a few years before LuLing’s birth, the Republic of China is established. By 1927, civil war breaks out in China between the Republican government and the Communist Party of China. This conflict is reflected in the fates of LuLing and GaoLing’s brothers, who either choose to fight on the side of the Communists or are conscripted into the opposing army. Civil war continues to rage until the outbreak of hostilities with Japan in 1937. The Second Sino-Japanese War (which eventually becomes part of World War II) is usually considered to originate with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which Tan references in her novel. Other effects of the war—such as Americans in China being considered prisoners of war after 1941—also appear in the novel. Tan includes this historical content in
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, but she mainly focuses on the ways in which these historical events affect the lives of individuals, especially women.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Bonesetter’s Daughter!