Free The Force Of Resistance Essay Sample
Man was born with the inherent desire to constantly elevate his state of being. Marked progress and the manifestation of that which never before existed are irreplaceable cornerstones to a life of fulfillment and satisfaction. In Lu Hsun’s “Regret for the Past,” Ding Ling’s “When I Was in Xia Village,” and Hwang Sun-Won’s “Descendants of Cain,” we witness the struggle of three different characters in their endeavor to improve their current state of living and being. More than mere chasing after riches or fame, each individual seems to yearn for something deeper, something that will satisfy their souls while also allowing them to enjoy their physical experience in the material world. Each story exhibits the journey every person must take in order to reach higher levels of existence—both in the inner world as well as the outer—alongside the opposition that will challenge even the most earnest souls and often overcome the one who cannot gather enough strength and wisdom to push through the resistance and move into the place of their longing and desire.
In “Regret for the Past,” Chuanseng’s romance with Zijun begins as a product of new Western ideals of self-determinism and liberation. Stifled by customs of arranged marriages and women’s oppression, Zijun finds refuge in modern ideas which allow her to marry whom she pleases and be a person of freedom even as a woman. Chuanseng, an intellectual male, encourages this mode of thinking. Under the pressure of financial privation, however, Chuanseng eventually declares that he no longer loves her. He later realizes that her fearlessness in the beginning was because of the love they shared, not an entity of her own. Zijun eventually dies alone, as a woman ruined by presumptuous and misleading ideals. While he feels that she should not have clung to him and only him, and instead carried her own weight to avoid the ruin that fell on them both, we cannot help but suspect that the deep-seated beliefs about the separation between man and woman were still active in Chuanseng’s consciousness. Zijun’s tragic ending reveals the shortcomings of the Chinese May Fourth movement in its attempts at rectifying the plight of Chinese women. Long-standing conservative forces were not the only thing to blame for Chinese’s women’s halted road to independence. The very men who compelled women to rebel against tradition were the ones who faltered under the pressure of actualization. Chuanseng could not, in effect, materialize what he sought to bring forth in his ambitious partnership with Zijun, and instead faltered in his attempts to demonstrate strength and bravery in the face of adversity. Intellectual males like Chuanseng, in fact, became accomplices to the very thing they scorned and encouraged their women to move beyond. In the end, though he does learn that he should have handled Zijun’s heart with more care, we are left unconvinced that he discovered the inner treasure of absolute resolve that would have enabled him to not only prosper financially but also love his woman the way she had believed he would.
In “When I was in Xia Village,” Zhenzhen feels like an outcast in her old village and finds a modicum of hope in breaking away from her past and identifying with a grander cause in the hopes of having a new beginning. In an era where traditional virtues of femininity and prudence were still heavily upheld, Zhenzhen’s sexual relations with the Japanese soldiers made her a social leper, particularly in contrast to the women of the village who contemptuously displayed themselves as examples of chastity and pureness. She was unlovable to all men because of her touch with the enemy, and she could not return to marry her past love, Xi Dabao, who was the only man who would accept her. Her only option to change her life for the better was to leave it all behind. Only by leaving could she release herself from the weight of contempt and judgment, and rediscover the spark that the narrator had seen in her eyes when they first met, the spark that eventually dimmed in the face of suffering and ridicule. This spark, which was what spurred her inquisitive nature and meticulous perception of the world, was also what spurred her to loosen the grip of the past and stake a new life in a new place. In this way, by entering into the birthing place of the Chinese communist regime in the city of Yan’an, the story ends on a note of resolution and hope as Zhenzhen seeks to find a better path for her in the midst of past full of scornful judgment and unforgiving derision.
In “Descendants of Cain,” Hun is a passive, benign individual who, even if he were more bold and forthcoming, is unable to make any changes in his life in the face of the powers which forcibly thrust him out of his village. The story takes place in North Korea after the end of World War II, with the communists using their widespread influence to take control over people’s lives. Even as his entire world is dismantling all around him, Hun drinks, often to oblivion, and even shows a cruel callousness to Ojaknyo, his loyal and admirable peasant. We are left hoping that he will suddenly release himself from his apathy and indifference, and show seeds of courage in some will to act. Instead, we see the power of the communists in destroying the seams which hold a community together, easily putting neighbor against neighbor and peasant against landlord. We see how they manipulate the villages to relinquish their modesty and plunge forth into vengeful violence. As the communists take total control of North Korea, we witness the results of deep-seated beliefs about custom and tradition, as well as the complacency that comes from remaining blindly in the status quo, even as reality shows more and more that it will no longer be so.
Lu Hsun’s “Regret for the Past,” Ding Ling’s “When I Was in Xia Village,” and Hwang Sun-Won’s “Descendants of Cain” each demonstrate their own unique story of individuals who heed the call within for a more expansive state of being, and their journey to surpass the forces of tradition and conservatism that resist their evolvement. Chuanseng resolves to lead his lover to a life of more liberation, but fails under the weight of his financial responsibility and dwindling reserves of courage and perseverance. Zhenzhen expels herself from her disastrous past and forges a new road in a land of strangers who are unaware of the staunch ridicule that plagued her in her village. In their own way, each character demonstrates how the challenges we face, and the forces that unite to keep the status quo, are all measures of the strength within, and the faith in the desired outcome.
Ding, Ling, and Xun Lu. The Power of Weakness. New York: Feminist at the City U of New
York, 2007. Print.
Hwang, Sun. The Descendants of Cain. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe/UNESCO Pub., 1997. Print.
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