Chinese Cinderella

By: Kelsey Allen

Summary and Character Analysis

Adeline’s mother died shortly after her birth due to complications bought on by the delivery, making her as cursed, or ‘bad luck’, by her siblings. This situation is lead on by her father’s new marriage to a young French-Asian woman who has little affection for her husband’s five children. Niang proves to be difficult and distant towards all of the children, mostly Adeline,


Chinese Cinderella starts at Tianjin. Then, their family moves to Shanghai. After an ordinary life at Shanghai, their parents decided to return Jun-ling to Tianjin and left her there in a boarding house. Aunt Jeane decides to take Jun-ling to Hong Kong because her family, except Aunt Baba, Big Brother, Second Brother and Third Brother, had already moved there. She studies secondary school at Shanghai, and later on is given privilege, by her father, to study college at England.


Adeline Yen Mah was born in Tianjin, China. She lived in Shanghai as a child and moved to Hong Kong at age eleven. At fourteen, she won a writing competition, which convinced her father to send her to study in England. She attended London Hospital Medical School, graduated as a physician and established a thriving medical practice in California. She worked as an anesthesiologist at West Anaheim Community Hospital and became chief of anesthesia.


Exposition: Chinese Cinderella begins during World War II when Adeline is about three or four years old. Adeline is treated horrifically because of the death of her mother at birth. However, she is treating well by her loving Aunt Baba who takes care of her like a mother and lifts her spirits up.

Rising Action:Adeline’s siblings treat her as if she has committed a crime; they make rude comments and physically abuse her when the adults aren’t around to watch. As if her siblings didn’t abuse her enough she is also emotionally and physically abused by her stepmother and father. Adeline’s father lets Niang have control over the children he barely pays attention to any of the children.

Climax: Niang and Father decide that Adeline needs to be separated from the family because she is “no use”, so she is sent to a boarding school in Hong Kong. Adeline is separated by her beloved Aunt Baba and her Ye Ye. Adeline is sent to where the communists are taking over and putting people in jail. She is sent to a catholic boarding school were you are supposed to speak English or French which she speaks very brokenly. Adeline is soon the only student left in the boarding school, because everyone else’s parents have come to rescue them. While there she is never visited or receives any letters or treats.


Falling Action: Adeline is rescued by her Aunt Reine, Niang’s sister. Aunt Reine doesn’t tell Niang that she going to rescue Adeline from Saint Joseph’s , but does anyways because she is not aware of why Adeline was there in the first place.

Resolution:Adeline enters a major writing contest, she wins. This gains her father’s attention. With her desperate pleading Father allows her to go to college in London with her older brother. However, Father doesn’t let Adeline study what she desires; he lets her go if she studies medicine. Adeline studies Medicine; it doesn’t bother her because she will later become a writer.