Life Perspectives from a Literature View
Literature writers have a stylistic approach to the social concerns and themes that they address in their works. Literary themes and methods have a different style of addressing the issues that are common to the modern world in ways that make sense compared to the standard methods to the issues. An analysis of the traditional and modern literature books presents a number of issues that are addressed with some similarities in the writings. Different methods also are present to differentiate the times of writing and the features of concern at that time. However, literature has been used to describe many traditional and cultural practices in different unique ways. This paper presents a review of two books ‘Pow! s’ by Mo Yan and ‘Border Town’ by Shen Cogwen with an emphasis on the literal concerns that affect communities.
The first book ‘Pow!’ by Mo Yan is set in the traditional culture but addressing the contemporary social events that the society faces. In his, book ‘Pow! Mo Yan uses the simple modern features that make more sense to the reader as they are issues that people encounter in their daily lives (Lingenfelter, 2012). Mo Yan is renowned for applying food ideas in writing his books. In writing the book, Mo Yan uses a narrator Luo Xiaotong, a young Chinese man who loves to eat food (Kemp, 2013). As the main character, the story revolves around the life of Xiaotong. Just as any literature material, Yan uses his character as the centre of developing the different themes that he addresses in his book (Mo, 2012, p. 14). The childhood story of Xiaotong is filled with the family relations that he and his mother have to undergo when his father leaves his mother for a wine merchant. The book is a narration of Luo Xiaotong to a monk. The story is a narration on the town in the Northeast Gaomi Township, in the Shadong province. The culture of the Chinese where the writer bases his arguments and subject of the story revolves around the revolution of the new inventions into the modern world. Xiaotong’s town was formerly a peasant village with farmers tending to their farms as their daily source of food (Mo, 2012, p. 35). However, the large returns of the food industry and products are considered a revolutionizing effect to the lives of the people.
They take an interest in dealing with food products and leave their lands. In the event of adapting to the new lifestyle of being butchers and animal keepers, capitalism creeps into their culture (Goldblatt, 2013). The rate of corruption and economic immoral are worsened among the new butchers as compared to the former butchers in the town. Some of them apply crude ways to ensure that they make profit (Mo, 2012, p. 45). This is evident with the practice that Xiaotong when he worked in the food industry used to ensure that more sales are made compared to the other butchers. Yan describes the way Xiaotong injected water into butchered meat to add its weight and then formaldehyde is used as a preservative; as a result, the business makes more profit compared to other businesses (Mo, 2012, p. 65). Yan is famous for his social morals and three general ideas in the literal world, sex, food, and money. In each context, Xiaotong the main character in the book ‘Pow!’ interacts with in a different way to shape his life events. To an extent, Yan addresses the social immoral in the society but attempts to pass the message in the books by applying a humor that make it easy to the reader to understand the thematic ideas that are being described.
In the book ‘Border Town,’ Shen Cogwen focuses on the life of Cuicui a young teenage girl and her life experiences as she grows. Cuicui is left under the protection of her grandfather after the suicide of her father and the passing away of her mother soon after her birth (Shen, 2009, p. 63). Living in a small town, Cuicui’s grandfather operates a ferry that transports people to the nearest town across the river. The setting of the rural establishment where Cuicui lives with his grandfather is a separation for the social immoral that the big developing town across the river has influenced on the dwellers. The story is focusing on a different life circumstances that youths face as they grow into adulthood (Shen, 2009, p. 56). Written and focused on the modern literature, the story brings to reality the changes that modern civilization practices have deprived cultures. In comparison to the life in China before the communist revolution, that brings a different perspective to the cultures and practices of the societies. In another concept, Shen tries the hypocrisy that the elite class among the societies applies in making their way to the top of the classes at the peril of the less fortunate. The development stages of Cuicui are filled with events that she feels hard to understand and comprehend. The grandfather asks her many times when she would be sitting on a rocky bluff are what she was thinking. However, her reply, which is a whisper, is a mixed reaction of forces within her that she fails to understand. As she answers her grandfather that she is not thinking of anything, her heart tends to oppose her answer, as she does not understand herself what she really wants in her life (Shen, 2009, p. 63).
The teenage age of Cuicui as any other teenager is characterized by finding the best man to spend the rest of her life. Raised by her grandfather, the two grow to care for each other. As the grandfather is worried about the life that her granddaughter is going to live, considering the tragic death that Cuicui parents underwent, he becomes determined to find her granddaughter a man who will take care of her after his passing. On the other hand, Cuicui is torn inside thinking of what kind of life she will live if she loses her grandfather. Two brothers attracted to Cuicui emerge in the story, and Shen brings up the rural life cultures of the Chinese (Shen, 2009, p. 65). Despite the antagonism that is between the two brothers with each seeking to be chosen over the other by Cuicui, no physical reaction that they show towards one another. Shen describes the events in the context before the communist revolution and the peaceful community coexistence.
The two books are written with the main events revolving around teenage developments stages and the changes that are characterized with the stages. Using the China culture as the basis of the books, the practices before the revolution and eradication of old practices serve to give a glimpse of the period of writing. The writers also have applied the different social themes that are considered the current events with their implications to the societies. Yan addresses the changes in the society with respect to the shift that takes place in the life of his character Xiaotong. As he grows, up the changes that he is raised in defines his adulthood and the characters that he develops. Since he is raised in a capitalism society, he adopts uses unethical methods to achieve sales in his business.
On the other hand, Cuicui’s story with a setting of a rural context, discusses the life of the rural Chinese cultures before the revolution. Cuicui, who is raised by her grandfather, develops differently as compared to Xiaotong, who is raised in an urban setting. The village where she is raised in gives her the opportunity to realize herself and develop into an adult with an appreciation of the life situations. Nonetheless, the different settings of development present challenge to the characters in these books but the outcome of the results proves otherwise. Xiaotong grows up to be consumed by the pleasures and comforts that the society offers with little regard to the effects that his or other people’s behavior will have on the lives of others. Cuicui, on the other hand, grows to be a social person with a concern of the people close to her. She is considerate on what will happen to her with the absence of her grandfather. Her search for love and a better life would have been a dissimilar scenario if she grew in a different setting.
The application of the literature styles and addressing the modern issues affecting the societies have been a great influence in the writing and success of these two books. Basing their arguments and using the modern life situations as compared to the old traditional life, the writers employ the modernity in literature writing. A narration mixed with a writers own perspective of the social events makes for the attention that these two books receive. Written in the Chinese culture and appreciated into the international literature materials, depicts the ability that these authors have applied in ensuring that the circumstances affecting the different age groups (Ziolkowsk, 2005, p 93). Addressing the rural and settings of the Chinese culture and providing a link to the modern society, the writers provide a history of the Chinese culture in a unique way that attracts the attention and interest of the reader to appreciate the different perspectives as per the writers own stand (Braginsky, 2013, p 15).
Traditional literature presented a look at the general scenarios that were apparent to the reader. Themes that were addressed focused on what the general events that could have an impact on a group of people and not a specific target of people. Additionally, they seek to materialize the oral stories that existed in the past generations. However, modern literature is based on the modern societies. Themes addressed are at an advanced perspective as per the view of the writers. They address a particular age group and the manner of representation of the themes has a great impact to the reader. In the area of representing a theme that would result to bitter criticism, recent literature applies a different technique that does not attack the reader directly.
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Goldblatt, H. (2013, May 26). Translating Mo Yan. (S. Sparks, Interviewer)
Kemp, P. (2013, January 20). Pow! by Mo Yan, trans Howard Goldblatt. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from The Sunday Times: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/books/fiction/article1194945.ece
Lingenfelter, A. (2012, December 3). The Quarterly Conversation. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from Pow! by Mo Yan: http://quarterlyconversation.com/pow-by-mo-yan
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