In Hawke's translation of the novel, her name is translated as Aroma.
Xiren's surname, Hua (花), means "Flower" and her given name literally means "Assails Men". Her given name is chosen by Baoyu and is borrowed from a line of poetry.
Baoyu's principal maid and his concubine, Xiren is a few years older than her master. She was formerly Grandmother Jia's maid: the Dowager ceded her to Baoyu owing to her extreme loyalty and diligence. In practice, as Xiren serves as Baoyu's primary caretaker, she is given higher allowances than the Dowager's own maids.
Xiren is the partner of Baoyu's first adolescent sexual encounter in Chapter 5, though there is little evidence of an outgoing sexual relationship as the novel progresses. Xiren is valued for her conscientiousness by Lady Wang, Grandmother Jia, and other members of the Jia Clan. She urges Baoyu to study diligently and live up to his father's expectations, but Baoyu does not take her advice to heart and instead prefers not to enter the bureaucracy.