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During China`s Republican era, short story writers, often modeling the styles of their Western literary compatriots, waxed eloquent on China, the problems facing her, and the causes of many of those problems. In these stories, what were Lu Xun and Shen Congwen most upset about? What feeling did you get from their stories and what notions do you think they meant to convey? The important Chinese writers Lu Xun and Shen Congwen wrote about the China that they grew up in and the China that they experienced in their everyday lives.

These stories were written during a time in Chinese history when the world around them was changing, some felt for the better and others felt for the worst. In these writings the reader becomes aware that the writers believed in the Communist movement happening in China and that they were supporters of modernity in literature; their stories reflect this. The stories by Lu Xun and Shen Congwen all have one thing in common: they look at the world through the eyes of someone who is critical of the traditional Chinese culture that they see.

The authors of these stories were not supporters of traditional Chinese culture. In the stories, there seems to be a harsh criticism of the way of life in which they grew up and which many Chinese clung to. In “New Year’s Sacrifice” by Lu Xun, the disagreements that existed between the narrator and his uncle seem to mirror the cultural disputes going on outside of the home. The narrator in this story is a scholar, a supporter of the Communist way of thinking despite the fact he never comes out and says so.

In fact, this story has a lot in common with “The New and the Old” by Shen Congwen, because both stories deal with the distinct differences between the new and the old ways. In Shen Congwen’s story, the execution of the Revolutionaries, who represent the new way of thinking in China at the time, takes place in a very old-fashioned way by beheading. In this way, the new is somehow being conquered by the old, and yet Shen Congwen seems to feel this way of thinking it hypocritical. In reading Lu Xun’s stories, the old ways of China comes through as something to be ashamed of, something to question.

In “New Year’s Sacrifice” the narrator sees the questions from the beggar woman as something that is to be scorned, almost as if the old traditions and beliefs of the Chinese have become something to despise. He views the questions from the beggar woman about ghosts, Heaven, and Hell as being old-fashioned and out-dated. The story continues to tell the story of this woman and how her life was shaped and in many ways ruined by the traditional Chinese culture in which she grew up.

In the story “Kong Yiji” by the same author, the story revolves around a man who seems to be stuck between the new and the old world. He strives to be a scholar, to learn about the world around him, and yet he has to steal in order to do so because of his station in life. These stories share the common elements of the division between the old China and the new Republican-era China. The feelings that I got from these stories were very diverse and varied.

In Lu Xun’s stories I found myself marveling at the detail about the Chinese people and their culture and how the afterlife seemed to play a part in their everyday life. In “New Year’s Sacrifice” we see a town that is stuck in the old ways of doing things with the people of the town clinging to the traditions that they knew and were raised with. The narrator represents the voice of the Republicans in China, the person who sees the world as it is and as it could be. The author’s views come through loud and clear in the stories, and their views are obviously pro-Communist party.

They support a cultural revolution, something happening that changes their China and creates a modern China different from the one they were born into. My own feelings about these stories is that they show a culture that was strong and yet slowly fading away, leaving the people lost and confused if they did not change their thought patterns to something more drastic or radical. There was no room for contentment with the Old Ways in these stories and this is the notion that the stories seem to want to convey.

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