The novel ‘Chinese Cinderella’ is an autobiography written by Adeline Yen Mah, describing her childhood and younger teenage years as an unwanted daugther. Unlike most children, Adeline had a difficult time growing up. All throughout her life she was bullied and looked down upon by most of her family. At a young age Adeline is constantly being left behind by her family, leaving her to feel like the unwanted daughter. Throughout the whole novel, Adeline is looked down at and is never acknowledged for her hard work “Nobody was there to pat my head or congratulate me…” page 17.
Adeline’s Father, who is a wealthy businessman, has a small role in the book. This is because Niang seems to be the ‘head of house’. Whenever he is involved, he seems to not care, he is often forgetful or simply uninterested about her, admitting to Adeline “I have forgotten your Chinese name… ” page 140. Even by her siblings Adeline is abused or mistreated, “But then Mama died giving birth to you. If you had not been born, Mama would still be alive. She’ died because of you. “You are bad luck. ” page 3. …He took my right arm under the table and gave it a quick hard twist. ” page 10. Although Adeline tries her best to please her father and siblings she is continually being rejected by them. Adeline was looked down on and hated by her family, especially by Niang, who was the hardest to please, throughout Chinese Cinderella, it shows that Niang was never happy with Adeline “You don’t deserve to be housed and fed here. Girls like you should be sent away” page 113. Niang physically abuses Adeline by hitting her, kicking her, slapping her.
Adeline is always left miserable, lonely and feeling helpless and afraid. One day, Adeline’s classmates had discreetly followed her home, hoping to give her a surprise party. Instead, they heard Niang beating and screaming at her, “Liar! You planned it, didn’t you, to show off our house to your penniless classmates. How dare you! ” page 127. “I realised Niang’s blows must have caused a nosebleed, and that my face was probably smeared with a mixture of blood, mucus and tears…I felt naked and ghastly and vulnerable. ” page 129.
Niang continues abuse Adeline despite her doing nothing wrong she was unloved by Niang and alone with nobody there to support her. Adeline was different. Her family were the ones who put a label on her and her friends all realised that she was different. She is an unwanted daughter “…despised daughter publicly rejected by her parents. ” page 133. Although Adeline is a smart girl going to expensive schools, she does not fit in very well with her classmates. This is because Adeline “…neither receives eggs or visits” “…rushing around in that infantile brown dress. page 194. In chapter 18 is shows that Adeline hates being “the object of anyone’s charity or pity” Page 195. Even though it is clear Adeline and her classmates were never really on the same level of friendship. Back in the primary school in Shanghai, Adeline where tried hard to fit in with her classmates, She befriended Wu Chun-Mei who quickly became her best friend, the only one she had during primary. In conclusion all through Adeline’s life Niang shows multiple times through the book that Adeline is not a loved child in her family.
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