Ha Jin's Under the Red Flag Essay

Ha Jin's Under the Red Flag Essay

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In Ha Jin’s Under the Red Flag, the author interweaves different stories to showcase the individuals’ struggle to go against their natural instincts, as a means to comply with New China’s standards. These standards have been dictated by the political enforcers, establishing a new underlying moral basis that is expected of everyone to comply with. Although the stories are quite different, the connection the characters share is clearly depicted—they all combat the societal pressures to change themselves or face the consequences of being different. Two figures in particular, Ding Liang and Zhu Wenli, reveal the direct results of their decisions to comply with or reject the pressures to conform.
Winds and Clouds over a Funeral brings light to the subject of an old woman’s death and her request that violates New China’s protocol. Before she dies, she tells her family that she wants to be buried; however, “nowadays the government encouraged people to cremate the dead in order to preserve arable land,” otherwise, “there would be no more land for growing crops if burials were not stopped” (46). The government explains that the shortage in “arable land” is a direct result of the many burials that have occurred over time. According to them, if the people do not act responsibly and cremate instead, they will contribute to future agricultural strains and would essentially lead to the depletion of the nation’s food source. Although Ding wants to fulfill his mother’s last request by giving her the proper burial that respects her traditional mindset, he faces the burden of being “the head of the commune,” seeing the “thousands of eyes [that] are staring at [him]” (49). His decision to go against the government’s demands can lead to many politi...


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... Liang and Zhu Wenli, to showcase the many dilemmas experienced in the novel. They often encounter external pressures that society imposes on them and if they choose not to comply, they are subject to the consequences individualism entails. The underlying laws of New China contribute to the societal acceptance of these ethical constructs and serve as the basis for the function of society. The power held by the party is depicted in the characters’ decisions to go against their innate wants and conform to what is regarded as the correct behavior. Their fates become jeopardized, which stimulates their shifts in action. In conclusion, Jin’s novel highlights the influence of communism and how many people are not able to live freely, being that they reside in a society under the surveillance of the party’s enforcers and have no other choice but to respect the status quo.

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Ha Jin's Under the Red Flag Essay

- In Ha Jin’s Under the Red Flag, the author interweaves different stories to showcase the individuals’ struggle to go against their natural instincts, as a means to comply with New China’s standards. These standards have been dictated by the political enforcers, establishing a new underlying moral basis that is expected of everyone to comply with. Although the stories are quite different, the connection the characters share is clearly depicted—they all combat the societal pressures to change themselves or face the consequences of being different....   [tags: story analysis]

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