This paper argues that the third person narrative point of view used in Mao Dun’s “Spring Silkworms” and Huang Chun-ming’s “The Drowning of an Old Cat” is necessary for the authors to represent the complete picture of the people’s struggles against the unjust social rules and conditions, and the authors’ use of this narrative point of view can be compared with references to its role for emphasizing the stories’ ideas. Thus, the focus on the narrative point of view followed by Mao Dun and Huang Chun-Ming is important to be discussed in the paper because this is the technique with the help of which the authors address the readers and convey not only their visions of the situation but also all the inner motives and thoughts of the depicted characters.
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Thus, while comparing Mao Dun and Huang Chun-ming’s stories, it is significant to state that the authors use the third person omniscient narrative point of view in order to create the complete picture of the stories’ world with references to the characters’ visions, thoughts, and ideas because this approach is the most effective to provide all the necessary details and judgments about the characters and guide the readers to understanding the stories’ ideas.
Mao Dun and Huang Chun-ming’s approaches to using the narrative point of view are similar because the authors intend to represent the world round the characters thorough the characters’ eyes and as the objective reality to provide the readers with the opportunity to conclude about the characters’ decisions and actions independently. That is why Mao Dun and Huang Chun-Ming use the singular and plural forms of the third person narrative point of view which serve to represent the main characters and their ideas as well as to focus on the whole picture and the actions and feelings of all the participants of the described events. Thus, Mao Dun provides a description of the events and situations operating the singular and plural points of view.
For instance, to represent the thoughts of the main character Old Tung Pao in “Spring Silkworms”, the author uses the third person singular, “He watched the river boat approach, he watched it sail past and glared after it until it went tooting around another bend and disappeared. He had always abominated the foreign devils’ contraptions” (Dun 13). Referring to Old Tung Pao’s thoughts about ‘foreign devils’ contraptions’, the readers can understand on what images the villagers focus while observing the growth of new machinery, and what negative outcomes are expected by the villagers who have to oppose the new working rules and principles.
Similar approaches are used by Huang Chun-Ming when the author is focused on Uncle Ah-sheng’s ideas in relation to creating the swimming pool at the place where there is the sacred spring. The author is rather detached while depicting Uncle Ah-sheng’s feelings with the help of the third person narrative point of view, thus, “His [Uncle Ah-sheng’s] heart felt as if it were burning a hole in his chest” (Chun-ming 16). However, the author becomes closer to the character when he focuses on Uncle Ah-sheng’s inner monologue in which the character reveals the intention to fight for protecting the sacred spring from the planned destruction (Chun-ming 16).
From this point, Huang Chun-Ming becomes the omniscient narrator who can be described as rather flexible while balancing between the detached description of the characters and presentation of their thoughts and feelings in detail. Furthermore, Huang Chun-Ming and Mao Dun are the omniscient authors and narrators because they use the third person singular or plural depending on the stories’ goal and in order to accentuate the definite opinion.
Mao Dun is the omniscient narrator when he shifts from depicting Old Tung Pao’s thoughts to the description of the reality with references to the other villagers’ experiences and feelings. Thus, while depicting the working women and their vision of the situation in the village, the author uses the plural forms, “They could already visualize how … the shiny green leaves would be converted into snow-white cocoons, the cocoons exchanged for clinking silver dollars … they couldn’t refrain from smiling at this happy prospect” (Dun 17). While concentrating on the women’s ideas and visions, Mao Dun uses the pronoun ‘they’ in order to accentuate the spread of the described ideas among the definite population of the village. Thus, the readers can assume that the described women focus on working hard because they rely on further benefits.
The shift from using the third person singular to the third person plural is also observed in Huang Chun-ming’s narrative when the author describes the community of the elderly people who decide to use their combined efforts in order to prevent the destruction of the sacred spring. Huang Chun-Ming states, while focusing on these elderly men, that “their interests and topics of conversation were entirely compatible. And so, coming to the temple to chat after lunch had become a big part of their lives” (Chun-ming 15).
The reader receives the opportunity to observe the aspects of these persons’ daily life, and the complete picture of the community’s life can be imagined in order to stimulate the readers’ understanding of the story. From this perspective, Huang Chun-Ming also focuses on the third person omniscient narrative point of view in order to represent all the stories’ details. In spite of the fact that the authors can be discussed as detached from their characters while describing the visions of the main characters and the experiences of the whole communities, such an approach and the focus on omniscience are effective to represent the full picture from all the sides and perspectives.
To depict the complex world in Mao Dun’s “Spring Silkworms” and in Huang Chun-ming’s “The Drowning of an Old Cat”, the authors use similar approaches to the narration. Thus, Mao Dun and Huang Chun-Ming focus on the advantages of the third person narrative point of view to represent the stories’ situations and characters’ feelings and experiences from all the perspectives. The authors also similarly refer to the use of the singular and plural forms to convey a certain idea to the readers.
Nevertheless, it is more important to state that the authors choose to perform as omniscient narrators because such an approach is helpful to discuss the complex social issues with references to the characters’ visions of them. In spite of the fact that the stories are different about the topics, Mao Dun and Huang Chun-ming’s styles can be effectively compared about their similar narrative point of view because the role of an omniscient narrator contributes to emphasizing the ideas in both the stories.
Chun-ming, Huang. “The Drowning of an Old Cat”. The Taste of Apples. Ed. Huang Chun-ming. USA: Columbia University Press, 2001. 11-31. Print.
Dun, Mao. Spring Silkworms and Other Stories. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1956. Print.