Xanther and Jingjing’s Time Stamps
Yes, alright, so I don’t know how to start this so that it will sound academic and knowledgeable and such, but I suppose I’ll just dive right in. Okay? Okay.
The time stamps.
Up until this last section I hadn’t really been paying any attention to them. I was really thinking that they were just there to achieve a certain ‘feel’, perhaps similar to that of the opening of a crime show where the date and location are displayed somewhere onscreen while the scene begins (or just before the scene, sometimes). I mean, obviously they help to connect the various stories in a certain order, but because the dates and times are accurate for the character’s time zones, it would take a little work to figure the exact time line out – the sort of work I’m usually unwilling to do. However, in this last section I think the time stamps become incredibly important to understanding what is happening with the plot.
(Spoilers ahead, I guess?)
At the end of Xanther’s chapter where she has run out into the rainstorm in search of the strange cry, the time stamp reads as 15:14:49 Los Angeles, CA 05/10/2014 (p.517).
At the beginning of the very next chapter, the chapter in which Tian Li suffers a very intense seizure, the time stamp reads 06:14:50 Singapore 05/11/2014 (p.519).
Now at first glance, these two time stamps look similar, but the days and hours don’t seem to line up. It appears as though Tian Li’s seizure takes place about a day after Xanther finds the kitten. However, Singapore is across the international date line, meaning that these events, and the time stamps, are actually occurring on the same day. Furthermore, when you take into account the differing time zones (6:14 AM SST (UTC +8) for Singapore and 3:14 PM PDT (UTC -7) for Los Angeles) you will find that Tian Li’s seizure begins somewhere between one second to three minutes after Xanther finds the kitten. (Jingjing’s ending time stamp, and the end of Tian Li’s seizure, is 06:17:55 Singapore 05/11/2014 (p.538), three minutes and five seconds after the chapter begins.)
The concurrence of these time stamps is even more interesting when we look at what is happening to the characters. Tian Li, frightened by the owl room in Zhong’s manor, implies that she has some prior knowledge or understanding of the events about to ensue, saying “We’ve been here before” (p.238). Jingjing helpfully clarifies that he is not part of the ‘we’ Tian Li is talking about and that she “Can only mean one we” (p.286). It is here heavily implied that the other in the ‘we’ is Tian Li’s familiar, the strange white cat that so terrifies Jingjing. It is not long after this that Tian Li has her seizure and Xanther finds, curiously, a white kitten.
It is my theory that the kitten Xanther finds is the same white cat that had belonged to (or attached itself to?) Tian Li, and that it has been reborn / transfered hosts to Xanther somehow using Tian Li’s seizure and Xanther’s epilepsy as some sort of link.
Of course, I could certainly be missing some key pieces that could either enhance or detract from this theory since I don’t know ANY Chinese at all, and cannot even guess at what Jingjing and Tian Li are saying before Tian Li has her seizure.