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The Empress and Mrs. CongerThe Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds$
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Grant Hayter-Menzies

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083008

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083008.001.0001

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High walls

High walls

(p.26) (p.27) 3 High walls
The Empress and Mrs. Conger

Grant Hayter-Menzies

Hong Kong University Press

On June 23, 1898, the Congers reached Shanghai, where they were whisked off to the Foreign Settlement, crowded with the tallest buildings in China, and vessels from a dozen nations moored along the waterfront Bund. In her brief account of first entering Beijing, Sarah says little about the city itself. But there were two aspects that spurred her curiosity: the many walls and the many graveyards. This chapter describes Sarah Conger's first harsh glimpse of the Chinese laboring classes, especially the restricted existence of Chinese women, for whom the walls of the family compound, the bound feet in fashion among Han ladies, and a host of societal restrictions made ventures into the street outside impossible. It also describes Sarah's first experience of the sad irony of the lives of many foreign-educated Chinese who returned to China.

Keywords:   Congers, Shanghai, Beijing, Chinese women, Han ladies

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