Analysis Of Yihong Pan's 'Tempered In The Revolutionary Furnace'

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In “Tempered in the Revolutionary Furnace”, the reader sees children transform from loyal “children of Mao” to critically minded, independent individuals. At the beginning of the rustication movement the kids were just aiming to do whatever Mao told them too. However, by the end their transformation can be explained by the simple fact of growing older. Their maturity was caused by the children coming in contact with hardships and political ideas that they had no ability to fully comprehend while blindly following their leader. Yihong Pan gives her accounts and the accounts of other zhiqings to show that there were many different explanations of these coming of age stories during the 1950s and 1980s.
During the 1950s, there was a lot of enthusiasm
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Mao’s cultural revolution had people promoting the idea of ridding the country of the ‘Four Olds’, which were the traditional old ideas, old habits, old culture, and old customs (25). For example, the young teens would do what they were told women would be forced to cut their hair, tear up pant legs, burn wedding photos, got rid of house plants and pets, and even got rid of nice clothes in substitute for green army uniforms (25). The sense that people were promoting equality is what lead people to this idea, except these youngsters did not understand that, “Happiness is a subjective feeling, and many happy feelings come from ignorance of one’s own sufferings” (13). Mao even pointed out that China’s education was creating an urban elite and that the best way to combat that was by going to the country side to receive reeducation and teach the peasants about the new cultural movement (48). When in reality the middle school graduates did not have jobs and much of the red army was fractioning and creating violence among itself (47). Furthermore, students were also sent to the country because of the lack of jobs in urban population (62). Although the students did not know that at the time, they only “had a sense of being masters of the nation” and hoped to the heroes and heroines that would die for the glorious cause

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