MANSION OF MYSTERIES
FIVE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
The Red Chamber Study Association at Henan Normal University is a studentrun group that hosts lectures, plays, and discussion groups based on the classic novel. TWOC asked the club to provide their favorite unanswered questions from the book.
Mystery of the Lin Family Inheritance—
How did the female protagonist, Lin Daiyu, go from being the only daughter of an affluent official to a powerless dependent of her Jia relatives?
The Fate of Baoyu— What fate did the original author intend for the protagonist? Or, if we accept Gao E’s ending as canon, what happens to Baoyu after his mysterious disappearance in Chapter 119?
The Fate of Jia Yuanchun— What caused Baoyu’s elder sister, the imperial concubine, to lose the emperor’s favor and die (foreshadowing the entire Jia clan’s fall from grace)?
The Death of Qin Keqin— Qin Keqin, Baoyu’s childhood crush, mysteriously dies in Chapter 13. Did she die from disease or, as some redologists have suggested, did she hang herself because it was discovered she had an affair with her fatherin-law? The behavior of her two maidservants after her death—one publicly kills herself, the other offers to guard Qin’s body as her “honorary daughter”—make the circumstances more mysterious.
The Conspiracy of the “Fate of Gold and Jade”— There are symbols throughout the novel that prophecy marriage between Baoyu (born with a jade piece in his mouth) and his cousin Xue Baochai (gifted a gold locket by monks as a toddler). Are these objects actually planted by his mother and aunt, who wished to elevate their own family’s prestige through intermarriage with the Jias?