“The Jade Peony” by Wayson Choy is a short story about a Chinese-Canadian boy named Sek Lung and his close relationship with his grandmother. One of Sek Lung’s favorite activities to do with his grandmother was making wind chimes. Sek Lung and his grandmother would spend hours searching through dumpsters for old pieces of glass and beads to make their wind chimes. Even though Sek Lung cherishes every moment spent with his grandmother, his family members do not agree. They believe that he should get out more, and spend less time making wind chimes with his grandmother. Sek Lung’s grandmother is very old, and passes away. Before she died, she gave Sek Lung a gift to remember he by, a Peony. The Peony helps Sek Lung remember his heritage and all the wonderful times he spent together making wind chimes with his grandmother. The Peony is also a symbol for Sek Lung that his grandmother will always be with him.
There are two different conflicts that arise in “The Jade Peony”. The first conflict is between Sek Lung and his family. Sek Lung’s family does not want him spending so much time making wind chimes with his grandmother, because they do not want to be seen searching in dark alley ways and dumpsters for beads. Another conflict that occurs during the story is when Sek Lung’s grandmother is arguing with herself about whether or not to go to the hospital. Although she is sick and battling pneumonia, she keeps telling herself she doesn’t need to go to the hospital. This is a perfect example of how Sek Lung’s grandmother was constantly in dispute with herself.
In “The Jade Peony” Sek Lung and his grandmother can be characterized differently in various parts of the story. When Sek Lung’s grandmother is battling pneumonia, she shows traits of being strong, and a courageous fighter. In one part of the story, the grandmother is lying in bed fighting the illness…but she tells herself that she has got to hold on a little longer. She also acts like a teacher, and seems very intelligent when she’s teaching Sek Lung how to make the wind chimes and how important and special they are to her. Sek Lung also shows many sides of himself throughout “The Jade Peony”. When Sek Lung’s grandmother finally dies he is very sad and scared and doesn’t know what he’s going to do without her. Also when Sek Lung’s grandmother is teaching him how to make the wind chimes he is very attentive, understanding, and seems to be a good learner.
“The Jade Peony” is a story about family heritage and the important role it played in the life of Sek Lung and the life of his grandmother. The conflicts and characters in this story help you understand what a close relationship Sek Lung had with his grandmother. And what an important role she played in Sek Lung’s childhood. Sek Lung’s grandmother helped him realize that it is important to carry on customs from past, by making the wind chimes, and giving Sek Lung the Peony. The Peony does not only give Sek Lung the ability to remember his grandmother, but also to keep carrying on the traditions of his Chinese heritage.