The Suicide House

My informant’s grandparents emigrated to the United States from China. The following story is from her maternal grandfather’s village in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, near the city of Toisan. She heard this story from her mother, who heard it from others in the village while visiting.


“This story is from my grandpa’s village, but is from before his time, back when arranged marriages were customary. In the village there was a cranky but wealthy man, who had made money in the United States and then came home to the village. One day, he decided to get married. This old, disgusting freak ended up marrying a young woman. The day of the wedding, she hung herself in his house. A short while later, the old man’s son also decided to get married. I’m not sure if it was his son or another male relative, a nephew maybe, but he was an idiot too. The woman he was marrying was smart and capable, but she had no way out of the marriage, so she hung herself too, in the same house. The house is now haunted by the ghosts of both of these women, and is avoided by those in the village.”


This ghost story reflects a traditional Chinese village’s societal views about the custom of arranged marriages. This negative view of arranged marriage, as well as the suicides of the young women, are topics which probably would have been taboo to talk about in day to day life. However, this ghost story provided an outlet for the villagers to do so. This story being remembered close to 100 years after it supposedly occurred shows that it is still very much a part of their culture, and that they still identify with the story.