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During the modernisms, the world began changing and evolved in significant ways. Zhang Ailing was able to reveal the modern life of Shanghai city in the short story known as Sealed off,” this was the Japanese, Chinese, and occupation of the Japanese occupation of the land. Despite the fact that the themes of modernism were explicit and modernization was in the entire society, the Chinese traditions remained among the Chinese community. This paper reflects on the themes of reality and modernization.
The story took place in Shanghai when Japanese were occupying the city during the Second World War. At the beginning of the story, the author reveals the routine of city residents as well as all behaviors demonstrated by tramcar passenger. Nearly everyone was literate this was according to Zhang who reported, “While Lu read the paper others did likewise. People who had newspapers read them; those without newspapers read receipts, or lists of rules and regulations or business cards. People who were stuck without a single scrap of printed matter read shop signs along the street.” (500). Nevertheless, the author portrayal of those characters, these individuals were not happy with the reality, “They simply had to fill this terrifying emptiness—otherwise, their brains might start to work. Thinking is a painful business.” (500).
I like the manner in which the author interjects the comment about thinking whereby each reflected on his or her family and their relationships in this trip in the tramcar. Additionally, the characters’ lives depicted the modern description of contemporary life during the contemporary Chinese days. The young woman known as Cuiyuan raised in a wealthy family reacted to life boredom and its routine without sensitive response; while Zongzhen, a middle-class man with a family was unable to appreciate his job and life.
Based on story reflection these two characters are tortured emotionally by their family principle, and expectations and they are satisfied with the life they are leading. Apart from all conversations this character valued the significance of their realism “real persons” instead of their look as good people to the society, hence they showed each other who they are. In this case, the writer states, “In this world, there are more good people than real people…Cuiyuan wasn’t very happy.” (501).
Alternatively, Cuiynuan was a burden since her family anticipation of her to be insolent and join the university in her life besides to a more warmly painful principle that was to get married to a wealthy man who is educated. Her feeling was completely contradicting that expectation and demands. She hoped to live a free life, but her family was pressuring to do what they wanted.
She felt a great emotional pain of being hated and not respected by her fellow student and her fellow employees. Zhang articulates, “Ordinarily, she would have gone right on to the next one, but now, because she had too much time to think, she couldn’t help wondering why she had given this student such a high mark. (…) Suddenly, she understood: it was because this student was the only man who fearlessly and forthrightly said such things to her.” (501). Hence, the girl graded the student’s paper was not quantitatively, but for the feeling of being understood by students.
Nobody seemed to understand Cuiyuan, and she had to struggle to fulfill the family and to look good because of the community. The moment Cuiyuan met Zongzhen, a stranger; she suddenly felt some sympathy for him and had to reflect all the man’s moods and thoughts as an excellent illustration to hers. This made her feel pain and abuse that life has imposed on her, this by comprehending Zongzhen’s feelings.
Her dream was to be real and live the way she wanted. I believe this is the reason as for why the author made the story narrative; this was to indicate the time when the characters talked was just passing like a dream but not the life reality. The author reported that “Cuiyuan knitted her brow and looked at him, expressing complete sympathy. (…) Cuiyuan could not help saying, with a tiny smile, ‘you seem to take diplomas very seriously. Even if a woman’s educated, it’s all the same.’ She didn’t know why she said this, wounding her own heart.” (504). Obviously, Cuiyuan offended herself for saying this kind of words because she unconsciously wished to get some compassion, also, to get comfortable though the man had already comprehended the situation.
In conclusion despite modernism was eminently associated with the development of technology and education and some several types of revolution, the majority of residence seemed not to enjoy life and went through tediousness in their life routine.
As per the common Chinese value was still common in the society, people, particularly young ones, were not able to oppose what they were going through despite being in the deep insensible feelings, contrasting those sentiments with the veracity, and they would only know their selves when silence and short break comes. I have been fascinated to see how people treated freedom in the modern society. Personal opinion about life and community could be easily be distorted from the reality and the community high anticipations and preconceptions.
Response to the story, “My Innocent Uncle” by Ch’ae Man-Sik
“My Innocent Uncle” is a hilarious story that depicts Japanese colonization in Korea. Ch’ae Man-Sik, in this story, satirizes opportunistic natives who collaborate with colonialists and idealistic communists in Korea in the 20th century. The author uses irony and exaggerations to ridicule individual’s beliefs concerning politics in contemporary society. Ch’ae Man-Sik tells the story of an idealist communalist from his “Nephew’s” point of view. The narrator appears to be constantly misunderstanding his intellectual “Uncle” whom he describes a fool due to his Uncle’s resistant of Japanese colonists that he is a fan of. The author, therefore, explores the theme of colonization plus the natives’ parallel stand on the subject of colonists. Although the story is set in the era colonization, I believe that it is still relevant to most societies in the 21st century. This is because the story explores the plight of civil rights activists, how political differences stir up animosity among supporters of differing sides. It further looks into the manner in which lack of education plays a role in sustaining conformity to harsh political systems and creating a charged political climate. The story thus presents issues that need to be addressed in this century to achieve political uniformity and peace.
At the moment, most societies have a democratic form of governance, but political polarization within these communities is still prevalent. Political oppression is also a feature typifying most governments. These challenges have given birth to the modern day socialists fighting for their rights, which is not always easy as depicted in the story. “Uncle’s” harsh encounters including being imprisoned while defending his idealist believes is similar to the ones experienced by current activists. Also, the story reminded me of uneducated citizens who blindly support politicians while hating those who disagree with the politicians or political ideologies that they are loyal to. At the end of the story, the narrator wishes that his communist uncle would die which reflects the epitome of his foolishness and ignorance that he does not seem to see. Such imprudent thinking by citizens in societies where the political climate is charged often results to unnecessary killings.
In conclusion, “My Innocent Uncle” by Ch’ae Man-Sik depicts the contemporary charged political climate characterized by blind loyalty to politicians that often results to a hatred that translates to war among differing groups. It also discusses the difficulties communists face in their everyday struggle for freedom from political oppression that still dominates most societies.
Response to the story, “The General Retires” by Nguyen Huy Thiep
Nguyen Huy Thiep in his story, “The General Retires” attempts to depict the fate and plight of retired military personnel who spend almost their entire lives fighting for their country. Through the story of Thuan who retired from the military at 70, the author explores the challenges former soldiers face in their struggle to fit in their communities. The author portrays a picture of a lonely old man alienated by his long-held ideals of war and trying his best to be a part of the society that seems to have moved on before he later flees and is supposed to have died in battles. Nguyen, therefore, explores the theme of alienation experienced by retired soldiers. This story indicates the nativity of the public regarding the needs and requirements of the men many consider heroes of the nation, respect and admires.
Often, war is ugly and has cataclysmic impacts even on the soldiers contrary to the public’s beliefs. The people admire soldiers’ brevity, and in the process of recognizing and admiring soldiers’ heroic acts at war as they get back to their communities, no one pays attention to soldiers’ actual desires. Very few are aware of the trauma, the burden, and the sacrifices they were compelled to make during the battle. Also, few consider how these factors and the loss alters ex-soldiers’ beliefs, emotional state and sense of personality. As a result, the society has no clue on how to relate with ex-military personnel living in their community or create a conducive environment to facilitate their adaptation. This is evident in Thuan’s daughter in laws insistent on doing house chores that Thuan believe he should be done. Thuan’s daughter in law appears to be insisting on doing what she believes he is good for him, which apparently conflicts with his accustomed military lifestyle. Most of the time ex-soldiers find themselves returning to a strange community. Retired general like Thuan, always go back home but the unfamiliarity of their surrounding makes life hell as their beliefs and desires conflicts with those held and practiced by the community. In Thuan’s case, he decides to flee the community after his attempt to live as equal as everyone fails, and his failure to find satisfaction plus comfort in his new life. I believe that understanding these soldiers can go a long way into developing mechanisms of protecting them after the war.
In summary, Nguyen Huy Thiep through the story, “The Retired General,” brings to attention the neglected subject of the ex-soldiers daily struggles to survive in their former communities. These soldiers, known to many as the nation’s heroes suffer in silence from depression, loneliness, and alienation upon returning home. Many are not familiar with these difficulties thus contributing to ex-soldiers inappropriate treatment by the people.
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