The story takes place in 1991. Ms. Cheng Die, a music teacher at the No. 2 Middle School in Dehai City, was born into unstable surroundings, a family characterized by both silence and chaos. She lived without her father for the first ten years of life, growing up with the constant sound of her mother's weeping wails. Her grandmother Yang Zipei, a celebrity from the Shanghai French Concession Renaissance, taught Cheng Die how to play the piano at an early age. The piano became her solace, a reprieve from her fragile home life. Despite her father's return to the family, things only worsened for Cheng Die and her psyche. Cheng Die was stifled by her family's Confucian standards, standards that conflicted with everything she saw, with her father's absence and his sudden return. Cheng Die rebelled against her parent's hypocritical expectations, relying more and more on her natural disposition, on her desire for sensory experience, rather than striving for the social and moral discipline that Confucian thought demands. Cheng Die was soon involved in an inflammatory love affair at school, encapsulating her name in shame and gossip, which results in her relocation to Linyuan Town in the remote mountains, where she is sent to teach.