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CHINESE STORIES & CONFUCIANISM.

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Social relationships & family structures in four stories from 1919-1949, depicting traditional Confucian-oriented Chinese society.... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Social relationships & family structures in four stories from 1919-1949, depicting traditional Confucian-oriented Chinese society.

Paper Introduction:
This report will depict some of the social relationships and family structures in traditional Confucian-oriented Chinese society through the presentation of the following stories: "My Old Home," by Lu Hsün, "The Lamp," by Shen Ts'ung-wen, "A Slave-Mother," by Jou Shih, and "Hsiao-hsiao," by Shen Ts'ung-wen. These stories were written in the period between 1919 and 1949, a transitional period in China, when the inhumane nature of traditional values was being challenged. "My Old Home" was written by Lu Hsün in 1921. The story was about a trip back to his old home and the difficulty he faced in communicating with his childhood friend. Not having seen his friend for more than 30 years, he found the intimacy of childhood had faded away. Jun-tu addressed his old buddy, not by his name, but by the term "master." The gap between the two men was more

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This uncle, however, hadn't read Confucius: hecouldn't bear to sacrifice Hsiao-hsiao, and so he chose the alternative ofmarrying her off to someone else."[ix] She gave birth to a boy, and she was permitted to continue her stayin the household, since no one came to purchase her. Ed. However, deep in her heart, the Mother was attached to herhome, not so much for her husband, but for her first-born son. The oldsoldier fixed his dreams on his young master. Their lives were governed by the social order. Chinese Family and Kinship. These relationships were arranged in order of priority and,with the exception of the last one, were all superior/inferiorrelationships. It was common to borrow a woman for a coupleof years and return her when the contract was over. The seller of the woman, her master, Han Yuan-ting. A girl customarily married young, and her husband was often younger,especially if the girl was from a poor family like Hsiao-hsiao was. If she had "played" more carefully withoutshowing any trace of concern for her own family, the rich man might havelet her stay. Hsia, introduction to Modern Chinese Stories and Novellas,1919-1949, Modern Asian Literature Series, eds. Low.Kowloon, Hong Kong: Swindon Book Company, 1971.Shih, Jou. New York:The Free Press, 1981.Hsün, Lu. She wastorn between her two children, although the sons were born to two differentfathers. Thesehighly structured relationships proved harsh and often inhumane. The lives of Hsiao-hsiao and the Mother portrayed the typical fate ofwomen in the old Chinese society and their total devotion in serving theirhusbands and their sons. In the old Chinese society, women were treated as commodities. Lau, C.T. Hsia, and Leo Ou-Fan Lee, 227-36. It seemed to her thatthe story was beginning again. The old soldier,without any kin of his own, wanted to find a place for himself. . These four stories help to illustrate social and family relationshipsas they existed in traditional Confucian-oriented Chinese society. However, Hsiao-hsiao began an affair with Motley Mutt, probably because of her curiosityabout sex. The Chinese Looking Glass. A witness, Monk Chou-ta, of the Pao-en Monastery A witness, Monk lo Hsian, Master in the Law and the Discipline, Lung- hsing Monastery.[vii]However, most of the time, the trading of a woman, such as the Mother in "ASlave-Mother," did not even require a legal statement of the transfer ofownership. They could be placed as servants, cooks, nurses or companions inwealthy and important households, as musicians and even as concubines.They could become matchmakers or be sold for singsong girls, and of coursethey could be married off blindly to a man whom they did not know.[v] "A Slave Mother," by Jou Shih, demonstrates the unfairness imposed onwomen in traditional Chinese society. In Modern Chinese Stories and Novellas, 1919-1949. In the last part ofthe story, Hsiao-hsiao became the mother-in-law herself when her sonmarried a girl who was six years older than he was. A woman was unable to change her way of life andto voice her own views. New York:Columbia University Press, 1981.-----------------------C.T. The Mother's status at her new home might have been strengthened whenshe gave birth to a son. Endnotes BibliographyBaker, Hugh D.R. Lau, C.T. At the endof the story, their two children, Hung-erh and Shi-sheng, were gettingalong well and becoming friends. Young girls also married men who were many decades theirsenior. Lau, C.T. Joseph S.M. After marriage, thebride not only had to keep up her household duties but also had to act as ababysitter to take care of her child husband. If you keepthem at a distance, they bear a grudge."[iv] In classical Chinese thought, women were considered insignificantthroughout their lives, and their status compared to men's was low in thecontext of both family and society. Once Hsiao-hsiao married, she became a part of her husband's family,and her life was meant to be devoted to that household. Hsia, and Leo Ou-Fan Lee (New York: Columbia UniversityPress, 1981), xiv-xvi.Hugh D.R. Lau, C.T. Modern Asian Literature Series, eds. Modern Asian Literature Series,eds. He maintained his role in service,but, when the time came to discuss his young master's bachelorhood, heacted like a mother who urged the son to get married. Under Confucianism, there are five archetypal human relationships:Ruler/Minister, Father/Son, Elder Brother/Younger Brother, Husband/Wife,Friend/Friend. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.Bloodworth, Dennis. The "mother" was sold by her husbandfor a lot of money to a rich family on a five-year term. Traditional Chinesesubscribed to the view that love should be the product of marriage and nota reason for it.[viii] In Shen Ts'ung-wen's "Hsiao-hsiao," the author didnot take any action in protesting the inequality of a woman's life;instead, he wrote subtly on how Hsiao-hsiao endured her life, as many otherwomen endured theirs, in a quiet, concordant way. Things Chinese. In Modern Chinese Stories and Novellas, 1919-1949. If she did, it was regarded as a catastrophe.Confucius had once said, "The woman with no talents is the one who hasmerit."[x] Therefore, in old China, there were millions of unheardcomplaints by women. The family was not just an ethical force but also the institution tocarry out the folk-laws. Hsia, and Leo Ou-Fan Lee, 11-16. The seller of the woman, her mistress, Seven Daughter. The only thing they could do was cherish each memoryof the time they had spent together before things had changed. They were intended to give guidance on the correct weightfor any relationship.[ii] In "The Lamp," the relationship between the old soldier and his youngmaster was somewhere between the Ruler/Minister and the Friend/Friendprinciple. . Over the course of a woman's life, she had littlecontrol of the way she lived. The oral agreement made by her husband was sufficient to tradea woman's life for just a little money. "My Old Home." Translated by Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang. "By rights she would have been drowned, but only headsof families who have read their Confucius would do such a stupid thing tosave the family's honor. It was unusual for a man to choose his own wife or a woman her ownhusband in traditional Chinese society. This report will depict some of the social relationships and familystructures in traditional Confucian-oriented Chinese society through thepresentation of the following stories: "My Old Home," by Lu Hsün, "TheLamp," by Shen Ts'ung-wen, "A Slave-Mother," by Jou Shih, and "Hsiao-hsiao," by Shen Ts'ung-wen. Baker, Chinese Family and Kinship (New York: ColumbiaUniversity Press, 1979), 11.Ibid, 41.Dennis Bloodworth, The Chinese Looking Glass (New York: Farrar,Straus and Giroux, 1967), 71.Ibid.Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, (ed.) Chinese Civilization and Society(New York: The Free Press, 1981), 97.Ibid., 65.I.C. I.C. . Themarriage did provide some benefit in that the girl's family would get moneyfrom the husband's side as a payment for the bride. The old soldier had a special attachment to his newly foundmaster because the soldier acted as three generations of the family: thegrandfather, the father and the son. Eugene Eoyang, in ModernChinese Stories and Novellas, 1919-1949, Modern Asian LiteratureSeries, eds. Joseph S.M. He wanted his master toraise a family of his own, so the soldier could also have a family that hecould relate to, and thus end his years of drifting. Low, Husein Rufe, and Philip Moa, Things Chinese, ed. New York:Columbia University Press, 1981.Ts'ung-wen, Shen. A relative by marriage, who has participated in the discussion, Fu- chen. Hsia, and Leo Ou-Fan Lee, 237-46. Chinese Civilization and Society. For example, thefollowing statements provide the names of the witnesses who were maderesponsible for the contract: The woman whose person is being sold, Chien-Sheng. I.C.Low (Kowloon, Hong Kong: Swindon Book Company, 1971), 18.Shen Ts'ung-wen, "Hsiao-hsiao," trans. These stories were written in the periodbetween 1919 and 1949, a transitional period in China, when the inhumanenature of traditional values was being challenged.[i] "My Old Home" was written by Lu Hsün in 1921. The story was about atrip back to his old home and the difficulty he faced in communicating withhis childhood friend. Not having seen his friend for more than 3 years,he found the intimacy of childhood had faded away. Nothing onearth is held so cheap. In traditional Chinese society, males were heads of families and thesole producers of income, and women were of no social or economic value."For instance, in the Southeast of China, the Cantonese and Hokkiensreferred to their daughters as goods on which one loses one'scapital,"[iii] implying that the time, money and effort invested to bringup their daughters would have been wasted once their daughters got marriedand left the family. The author hoped that, if there were areunion of the two children, they would not be betrayed by time and stillcould maintain their friendship. The fate of women was in the hands ofothers. Womenwere the most severely affected, often being treated like property ratherthen as human beings. Hsiao-hsiao was an example of a teenager marrying a boy more than 1 years her junior. Hsia, and Leo Ou-Fan Lee (NewYork: Columbia University Press, 1981), 235.Bloodworth, 73.----------------------- 9 As Dennis Bloodworth put it, thefemale of the species could always be reared to some purpose in a Chinesefamily. "The Lamp." Translated by Kai-yu Hsu. Modern Asian Literature Series, eds. "If you allow them close, they show no respect. "A Slave-Mother." Translated by Jane Parish Yang. Hsiao-hsiao became pregnant. Hsia, and Leo Ou-Fan Lee, 2 8-19. In bothcases, marriage was arranged by the family, and the bride and groom did noteven have a chance to meet and know each other. Ina poor family, the "imported" wife was expected to contribute heavy labor.In a rich family, the wife might enjoy a much more relaxing life. Modern Asian Literature Series, eds.Joseph S.M. "Hsiao-hsiao." Translated by Eugene Eoyang. Joseph S.M. In fact, if he had not tried, she probably wouldhave found someone else. Joseph S.M. "Only women and small men are hard to keep," he declaredpontifically. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.Low, I.C., Husein Rufe, and Philip Moa. Lu Hsün and Jun-tu'sbackgrounds were very different: the educated intellectual versus theordinary illiterate. "If you have aman's wife or daughter as a servant, you should return her to her husbandor father on completion of her period of service."[vi] The "mother" wasmore than a servant; she was sold on a contract as a concubine, or aplaything for the rich man. Lau,C.T. Leaving her second son behind, she returned home with a brokenheart and discovered that, because her first-born son had not seen her forthree years, he did not recognize her as his mother. ." Confucius had long since put the girls--when they were not drowned at birth like unwanted kittens--where theybelonged. Joseph S.M. In ModernChinese Stories and Novellas, 1919-1949. In ModernChineseStories and Novellas, 1919-1949. They had nothing in common. The parents always determined thematch, often on the recommendation of a match-maker. Adultery wasconsidered a serious crime for a woman, who received severe punishment,usually drowning. Women were to be compatible with men: "A plaintive, far-off voicewhispers down seventeen centuries, how sad it is to be a woman. She was still a very young who had never experienced sex beforeMutt's seduction of her. New York: Farrar, Strausand Giroux, 1967.Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, ed. Lau, C.T. Jun-tu addressed hisold buddy, not by his name, but by the term "master." The gap between thetwo men was more than a difference of class: they were, in fact, strangersto each other.

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