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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Language of Threads

1. When Pei and Ji Shen first arrive in Hong Kong, they meet the rickshaw boy, Quan, who takes them to their boarding house. How does he represent the bustling city of Hong Kong and what role does he play in both Pei and Ji Shen's life?

2. Discuss how the sisterhood was able to thrive in Hong Kong after the demise of the silk villages in China. How were they able to remain a unionized faction?

3. Why is Pei determined that Ji Shen get an education rather than immediately become a domestic servant? How does this put a strain on their relationship?

4. Pei first goes to work for a Chinese family, which ends in disgrace. She then goes to work for an English woman, Mrs. Finch, whom she grows to love. What are some of the distinctions in each household and how does Pei cope in each?

5. Discuss how Pei, Ji Shen, and Mrs. Finch become a tight-knit family of their home despite social differences.

6. Discuss Mrs. Finch's internment at Stanley camp. How did they function within the camp? How do Pei and Ji Shen make her imprisonment more comfortable?

7. Ji Shen becomes involved with a man named Lock and the black market in Hong Kong during the occupation. In what ways does Pei try to get her out of it? Does she succeed?

8. Why do you think Pei refuses Lin's brother Ho Yung's offer of marriage?

9. After the war and Mrs. Finch's death, Pei becomes an invisible mender or seamstress rather than returning to work as a domestic servant. How does her new business turn her life around?

10. Pei's friend Lin remains a powerful memory throughout the book. The past is never far from her mind. How does the bond between her and Pei effect the way Pei lives her life?

The Language of Threads
by Gail Tsukiyama

  • Publication Date: September 21, 2000
  • Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 0312267568
  • ISBN-13: 9780312267568