Spring Pearl's friend and a servant.
Spring Pearl's guardian and mentor.
Spring Pearl's guardian and friend.
The Sung family's eldest daughter and approximately twelve years old.
Like the rest of her family, Emerald appears shallow and full of herself. She shows no concern towards politics or the war, thinks her father's intellectual discussions a bore, and spends her days talking with her sisters about fashion and parties. Though she gets along well with them, she does not have a high opinion of her brother for his flightiness and disrespect of others. Emerald quite enjoys seeing him put in his place, which makes her very fond of Spring Pearl when she wins all his money in gambling. Her expressions of friendship, though, are puzzling - she naively believes that name-calling, offering makeovers and lecturing on how to be a proper young lady are a good way to bond rather than an offense to her guest.
Emerald, like her parents, is deeper and more serious than she appears. She worries badly about her family, especially when her father is arrested, and despite her naivete, she can tell that she is being lied to about his well-being when in fact he is being tortured. After this point, she hesitantly follows her mother in rejecting the high-society mask that the whole family had worn. Emerald is not as open as her youngest sister, Oriole, until late in the book, but she turns out to be more honest and less cruel than her middle sister, Willow. She is also quite intelligent and can easily keep on top of current events without the slightest confusion, although in the beginning, she only uses this talent to keep track of fashion and boys.
Emerald is self-conscious about her minority heritage; the majority of Cantonese citizens are Han, and one of her maternal grandparents was Hakka. She especially resents the fact that her feet are not bound and are thus considered large and ugly, although she later expresses some thankfulness that she can walk normally as a result.
The Sung family's middle daughter, who is all about status.
The Sung family's youngest daughter, who has a hard time standing up for herself and others.
The Sung family's handsome son, who does not take business matters seriously.
Master Sung's noble acquaintance.
An old friend of the Chou family.
Auntie Wong's husband.
Auntie Wong's son.
An old servant of the Sung family.
A snobbish servant of the Sung family.
A man who protests the government with Master Sung and Lord Chin.
A politician in Canton.
A politician who is friendly with the British and French.
A British man who knew the Chou family.