Essay on The King of Trees

Essay on The King of Trees

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Throughout the segment for this book, I was introduced to many projects that helped me develop a better understanding of the plot and how different perspectives of the Chinese population were displayed through the characters, especially the heroes. I was allowed to choose this topic as one of my research projects in which I looked at Confucius texts and read about filial piety in order to understand one of the many factors that influenced the characters: family. These family values can be attributed to the deep-rooted culture in China, the Four Olds: Old Customs, Old Cultures, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. The book, Classic of Filial Piety, by Confucius, emphasizes the need of the child to pay reverence to his parents, while not blindly following his parents’ demands. This however, conflicts with the demands of the Communist government at the time, who needed full control of the youth. Therefore, it makes sense that he would send all the youth to work in the Down to the Countryside movement, which is the setting for the book. It is through these circumstances of being away from the family and being allowed to develop one’s own opinions of the government and its policies that allow the youth to grapple with differing views on the morals and impacts of the Cultural Revolution. These cries, concerns, and praises are all exemplified through each of the characters in the book, especially the heroes, who have the most difficulty with identifying themselves. Because of this difficulty, it would have been even more complicated in extricating why Ah Cheng made such complex characters and motives, if it weren’t for the research project that was assigned to us. The cultural importance of these values helped me gain a deeper understanding of the...


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...h stage in the Cultural Revolution onto characters in his novellas based on the setting of the book. By having an open path to each character’s inner feelings towards his situation in response to relationships and the political scene, the reader is able to fully engage in understanding both the character and the Chinese mindset. Neither will the reader be completely swayed to support the grassroots, nor the Communist party. This is important because the Chinese people at the time of the Cultural Revolution were not bipolar about the political issues either. Instead, many of them supported the Cultural Revolution but had increasing doubts as time went on. Cheng’s ability to reflect this exact mix of positivism and skepticism onto his characters creates the perfect mood for this novel.



Works Cited

Cheng, Ah. The King of Trees. New York: New Directions, 2010. Print.

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Essay on The King of Trees

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