The modern Chinese fiction is closely associated with concentrating on the rural settings and countryside to discuss important social topics and issues. The relationships between people within the rural settings develop according to the traditional social patterns and principles, but it is important to pay attention to the degree of closeness between rural inhabitants and to the role of the definite activities in their life.
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Thus, the concept of justice can also be discussed with references to the discussion of the countryside life’s details. Furthermore, it is necessary to state that the people’s perception of injustice is more acute within the rural settings, where the personal boundaries between people are rather obscure.
The focus of this paper is on representing the issue of rural injustice in Ding Ling’s “When I was in Hsia Village”, Zhao Shuli’s “Hsiao Erh-Hei’s marriage”, and Mao Dun’s “Spring Silkworms” and on analyzing the use of the authors’ realistic approach and tone to discuss the idea.
Therefore, the specific aspects of the countryside are discussed in these works with references to the idea of rural injustice which should be examined with the help of focusing on the authors’ manipulation of the matter-of-fact tone and depictions.
In spite of the fact that in their works, Ding Ling, Zhao Shuli, and Mao Dun discuss different topics and concentrate on various aspects of the rural life, these authors use individual approaches to emphasizing their realistic tone in the discussion of the problematic idea of the rural injustice because the focus on the unmediated realism is necessary to reflect injustice as the part of the rural population’s everyday reality.
While living at the rural territories, the protagonists depicted in the works of the modern Chinese authors have to face injustice in different forms almost each day. In this case, the rural injustice has the roots in the people’s unjust behaviors, ignorance, and aggression against the other people.
Chen-chen, the female character of Ding Ling’s “When I was in Hsia Village”, experiences the obvious injustice with references to the villagers’ negative attitudes to this young woman. During the days after returning back from the Japanese territories, Chen-chen has to realize all the sides of the people’s injustice and unfairness related to judging her with references to the villagers’ words and actions.
Thus, the villagers are inclined to talk that Chen-chen is useless as the community’s member; she cannot face the people as the equal one because of her ignorance related to the chastity norms and the community’s values; and she should be discussed as the real punishment for her family because of her provocative behaviour.
The villagers’ attitude toward Chen-chen can be represented in the phrase said by one of the community’s members, “Such a shameful woman should not be allowed to return” (Ling 271).
Paying attention to the description and characterization of Chen-chen as ‘a shameful woman’, it is possible to refer to the majority’s opinion and to take the opposition which is similar to the viewpoint of many people from Chen-chen’s community.
However, such an approach cannot be discussed as the just one in relation to the aspects of Chen-chen’s behaviour and sources of the public’s hatred and ignorance.
All the negative characteristics given to Chen-chen by the villagers can be discussed as the examples of the rural injustice because these people cannot look at the situation from the other point and understand the significant role of Chen-chen’s behaviour for the rural community.
Realism in Ding Ling’s work is accentuated in all the used techniques and approaches to write the story. Thus, the author chooses the technique of reportage to represent the story of Chen-chen, and she relies on the use of the realistic tone in order to describe and emphasize all the details of the community’s settings and of the villagers’ attitude to the young woman.
To illustrate the particular aspects and examples of the rural injustice, Ding Ling refers to the words of Chen-chen which describe her personal attitude to the problem. Thus, Chen-chen states: “Nobody treats me the way they used to.
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Have I changed? I’ve thought about this a great deal, and I don’t think I’ve changed at all” (Ling 274). Chen-chen becomes the direct object of the villagers’ unjust and prejudiced behaviours because these people do not understand the woman’s sacrifices which contributed to their personal wellbeing.
To emphasize this fact, Ding Ling strengthens her realistic tone with the help of using the reportage as a narration technique. Instead of being grateful in relation to Chen-chen because of her sacrifices, the villagers are inclined to ostracize the woman.
Thus, these villagers are realistically described to be focused on prejudice and superstitions. Rural injustice reflected in personal relations becomes the clear result of such prejudice and false visions.
The focus on superstitions as the possible source for injustice is also reflected in Zhao Shuli’s “Hsiao Erh-Hei’s marriage”. Shuli’s main characters, the couple of young people who refuse to marry according to the traditional norms, are judged by the rural community’s members because of their unconventional behaviors.
The author depicts injustice in relation to the villagers’ actions and behaviors while stating that “no villager dared speak up for the young couple” (Shuli 103).
Referring to these words, Zhao Shuli accentuates the public’s fear to be judged unjustly because of their actions and opinions, but these villagers can also be discussed as the embodiments of the rural and social injustice because they are inclined to persecute persons who express a kind of courage to go against the traditional norms which are based on prejudice and superstitions.
Zhao Shuli focuses on this controversy in the people’s vision of justice while discussing the possibility to influence the people’s wills and actions.
Moreover, the focus on the public’s fear is accentuated one more time, with references to resolving the problematic situation of the traditional marriage. Thus, the author repeats that “nobody dared speak up. People were afraid of reprisals if they failed to bring the charge home to the Wang cousins.
Some chicken-hearted villager even whispered “Tolerance means peace” (Shuli 113). Zhao Shuli draws the readers’ attention to the fact that ‘tolerance means peace’ while using the obvious irony as the literary device because, in this case, tolerance is closely associated with the idea of the rural justice which is not observed in the villagers’ behaviors.
To represent the variety of the villagers’ characters who are rather selfish, prejudiced, and ignorant, Zhao Shuli uses his specific variant of the realistic tone which is emphasized with manipulating the colloquial or ‘peasant’ style and manner of writing.
From this point, the characters and situations seem to be extremely real because protagonists are characterized by using the speech patterns which are typical for the rural territories, and situations are depicted in the most comprehensible manner. As a result, the fact of the observed rural injustice can be perceived by the readers more clearly.
Thus, Zhao Shuli’s realistic or the matter-of-fact tone and the use of the colloquial style to accentuate this tone contribute to discussing the idea of rural injustice in the depicted village because this injustice is also rooted in the people’s prejudice and superstitions.
In the works written by Ding Ling and Zhao Shuli, rural injustice can be discussed as the product of the people’s relations influenced by their viewpoints, traditions, and visions. In “Spring Silkworms”, Mao Dun discusses the concept of rural injustice as the product of the external forces’ impact because these forces can become threatening for the rural population.
In this case, injustice is more related to the social and economic issues which play the important role in the Chinese rural communities while influencing all the spheres of the people’s life. Old Tung Pao’s family and many other villagers become the victims of the foreigners’ intrusion into their economic and everyday life. As a result, these people face injustice related to the issues of the labor exploitation in the field of the sericulture.
To emphasize the experienced injustice, the author uses a lot of realistic depictions to illustrate the state of villagers. Thus, Mao Dun describes the women and children participating in sericulture, stating that “none of these women or children looked really healthy. Since the coming of spring, they had been eating only half their fill; their clothes were old and torn. As a matter of fact, they weren’t much better off than beggars” (Dun 18).
From this point, the villagers could not be described as healthy and satisfied while developing the sericulture in the region, and these people could not expect that the foreigners’ rules would change the situation for better.
Referring to the threat of the ‘free markets’ for the members of Old Tung Pao’s community, Mao Dun reveals the instances of the social injustice with the help of depicting the villagers’ value system in a realistic and rather dramatic tone. Being the master of critical realism, Mao Dun combines the realistic techniques to describe the landscape and nature or people with the elements of irony and drama in his tone.
Thus, the depictions of “the peaceful green countryside” and of the sun’s rays which “forced open the tender, finger-like, little buds” are changed with the realistic depictions of villagers working in the filed of the sericulture as ‘beggars’ (Dun 13-17).
From this perspective, it is possible to note that the detailed description of the agrarian landscape with a lot of the realistic features and elements is chosen by Mao Dun in order to accentuate the idea of injustice with references to this rural background. In spite of the fact that the author often refers to the use of comparisons, his tone can be generally discussed as matter-of-fact.
Thus, a lot of rural scenes seem to be depicted close to reality that is why the readers’ strong reflection on the idea of injustice discussed in the story becomes more evident. Mao Dun’s reference to the idea of the rural injustice is based on the economic and social background.
In this situation, the authorities and foreign producers within the sphere of sericulture can be described as the causes for observing injustice in the rural communities. Focusing on Mao Dun’s specific writing style and tone, it is possible to note that the matter-of-fact tone with the elements of irony and drama is effective to reflect the idea of injustice in the literary work completely.
Ding Ling’s “When I was in Hsia Village”, Zhao Shuli’s “Hsiao Erh-Hei’s marriage”, and Mao Dun’s “Spring Silkworms” are the good examples of the modern Chinese literature focused on the rural problems and issues. Injustice in different forms is the topic and pattern depicted in many literary works written by the Chinese authors.
That is why, it is relevant to pay attention to the discussion of this topic with references to the authors’ works which are different in their themes and presenting the idea of injustice, but these works are similar in relation to focusing on the realistic tone to discuss the pattern in detail.
Although Ding Ling, Zhao Shuli, and Mao Dun choose to concentrate on realism as their method, the authors’ writing styles can be considered as rather different because Ding Ling develops her realistic tone with references to the focus on the personality, Zhao Shuli combines the matter-of-fact tone with the colloquial style reflected in the characters’ speech and descriptions, and Mao Dun refers to combining the realistic tone with the elements of irony.
As a result, Ding Ling’s approach is effective to represent injustice with references to personality; Zhao Shuli’s approach is successful to focus on the injustice based on superstitions, and Mao Dun’s technique is effective to represent the social injustice.
Dun, Mao. Spring Silkworms and Other Stories. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1956. Print.
Ling, Ding. “When I was in Hsia Village”. Modern Chinese Stories and Novellas, 1919-1949.
Ed. Joseph Lau, Cen Hsia, and Leo Lee. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. 268-278. Print.
Shuli, Zhao. Rhymes of Li Yu-tsai and Other Stories. USA: Foreign Languages Press, 1955. Print.