Three Sisters Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Author: Bi Feiyu

Alternate Title: Yumi

First published: 2003 (English translation, 2010)

Genre: Novel

Locale: Wang Family Village, China; Broken Bridge Commune, China; a provincial town, China

Plot: Domestic realism

Time: 1971; 1982

Wang Yumi, the eldest daughter of the Wang family. In her late teens, she has a tall, straight, womanly body with a thin waist and full breasts; she wears her black hair in two braids. She is strong willed and takes on the role of female family authority after the birth of her baby brother. She resents her father's affairs with married village women. She courts an aviator who drops her when Yumi's father is deposed as party secretary. She marries the older widower Guo Jiaxing for his powerful position. She tries to help her sister Yuxiu but is stymied by Yuxiu's independent character. Yumi gives birth to a baby girl with Guo. When Yumi discovers unwed Yuxiu is pregnant, she feels ashamed of her sister. She accompanies the underage Yuxiu to the county hospital to give birth, signs the baby boy away for adoption, and tells Yuxiu her baby has died.

Wang Yuxiu, the third daughter of the Wang family. Two-and-a-half years younger than Yumi, she is considered the most beautiful sister. Her pretty face features large eyes framed by double-fold eyelids, with a cute nose, pretty red lips, and perfect white teeth complementing her fair skin. She is very intelligent, sly, and likened to a fox spirit from Chinese mythology. When their father is disgraced, some eight or nine village men gang-rape Yuxiu and her little sister Yuye at a nighttime open-air movie screening. Yuxiu leaves her village to seek protection with Yumi and Guo. Yuxiu antagonizes Yumi by falling in love with Guo's son from a first marriage, Zuo. Yumi tells Zuo of Yuxiu's gang-rape. Zuo forces himself on Yuxiu, who yields to his demand for sexual intercourse. Zuo leaves the next morning. Eventually, Yuxiu finds she is pregnant by him. Refusing to commit suicide, she gives birth to a baby boy at the county hospital, accompanied by Yumi. When Yuxiu wants to see her baby, Yumi tells Yuxiu that the baby has died and she threw its body down the open toilet.

Wang Yuyang, the seventh daughter of the Wang family. Yuyang has a stocky, solid build with no memorable physical beauty. She appears physically clumsy and socially awkward but has hidden strength. Her love of learning wins her acceptance to a teacher-training college in a provincial town. In college, her roommate Pang Fenghua becomes an enemy. Fenghua's accusation of theft, which turns out to be erroneous, leads to the tightening of school security. Yuyang's teacher in charge of security, Wei Xiangdong, makes Yuyang his secret agent tasked with reporting on her classmates. When a student poet befriends Yuyang but disgusts her with his urinating habits, she reports him to Wei. An anonymous letter to Wei claims that Yuyang is pregnant. Yuyang lets Wei physically examine her, which arouses Wei, who later molests her. Believing Fenghua sent the anonymous letter, Yuyang reports Fenghua's relationship with Teacher Peng to Wei.

Wang Lianfang, the head of Wang family and Communist Party secretary of his home village. He abuses his position to have affairs with married village women. When he is discovered in bed with a soldier's wife, he is disgraced and stripped of his position. He becomes a painter and is happy about Yumi's baby girl but descends into alcoholism.

Peng Guoliang, a young aviator matched up with Yumi. Of military bearing and somewhat stiff, he does not smoke. At his first visit, he gets on well with Yumi and they kiss. Guoliang returns Yumi's photo and her letters when her father is disgraced.

Guo Jiaxing, the commander of the People's Militia at Broken Bridge Commune. An older man whose wife dies in early 1971, he feels sexually rejuvenated by his young second wife, Yumi. He conducts his life like an official meeting, working seven days a week. Yumi chooses him for his powerful position.

Guo Qiaoqiao, Guo's stubborn daughter from his first marriage. A high school student with regular features, she uses loud vulgar language and appears angry. She resents Yumi but allies herself with Yuxiu, who serves her in exchange for shelter. Qiaoqiao has a falling-out with her father over his refusal to let her become a textile worker rather than spend time as rural laborer.

Guo Zuo, Guo's son from his first marriage, an automotive worker. Considered good-looking and well-educated, he manages to look cool and smart even on a hot day. Returning home after a motorcycle accident, he falls in love with Yuxiu. When Yumi notices this, she tells Zuo of Yuxiu's rape. Zuo forces himself on Yuxiu and wordlessly leaves the next day.

Pang Fenghua, a college student and roommate of Yuyang. Of rural background, Fenghua is considered smart and sly, like a seductive fox spirit. Fenghua begins an affair with their homeroom teacher, Mr. Peng. She gets her classmates in trouble when accusing them of a theft, which was really just Fenghua's misplacing her money. Her affair is denounced by Yuyang, and she confesses.

Teacher Peng, the homeroom teacher of Yuyang and Fenghua. A recent college graduate, he is socially awkward with women and stands straight as a javelin at his students' athletic competitions. Enticed into an affair with Fenghua, he escapes into town after being confronted, interrogated, and arrested at the college.

Wei Xiangdong, a teacher in charge of college security. Originally mild-tempered and shy, he turns into an aggressive bully during the Cultural Revolution. Considered a bad person, he is nevertheless forgiven. Impotent since 1979, he gets aroused while examining Yuyang when she is falsely accused of pregnancy and when he sexually molests her afterward.

Gao Honghai, a skinny college student and poet who names himself Chu Tian. He wears his long hair in a messy style. His haughtiness covers up his low self-esteem. He befriends Yuyang but disgusts her with his attempt to urinate sky high. Yuyang denounces him to Wei Xiangdong, who breaks his spirit.

Categories: Characters