If there is anything that makes a vow of celibacy attractive it is this novel. The characters of the novel, despite their cold exterior and deep traditional values, evoke strong emotions in the reader.
Pei, the protagonist, is sold into the Silk Workers' Sisterhood where she learns the value of female friendship, independence and communal bond. The girls' home is a center of support where the residents receive constant nurturing from each other, learn endurance, and give love.
Pei eventually chooses to enter the "hairdressing" ceremony, where she and her friend Lin enter the women's home choosing celibacy over the traditional norm of marriage and children. Their argument against marriage is a logical one--afterall, most marriages they see in their immediate surrounding imprisons the women into a life of servitude and pain.
In the end, Pei faces a turning point in her life. She is only around 27 years old, she has lost all who had been important to her and she's fleeing the Japanese invaders. As she embarks on a trip to Hong Kong, we know that there is no need for us to wonder; she has the strength to pull through and make a new life for herself.