The story of the first brother, Chueh-hsin, is unquestionably the most upsetting and saddest in this novel. Cheuh-hsin has lived his entire life in reverence and constant conformity with his elders. Although he is an "enlightened" person and does not unconditionally agree with many of the Confucian values, which he follows, he feels that his position in the social hierarchy of the family leaves him no other choice. As the "first son of the first son" he is the head of his household. As a result, he is forced to take on responsibilities he does not want. For this very reason, his two younger brothers, Cheuh-min and Cheuh-hui, scorn him. Chueh-hsin has lived his entire life following a non-resistant strategy. At an early age, he was prohibited from his dreams, by being forced into an arranged marriage, although his heart belonged to another woman, Cousin Mei. Although he comes to l...
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...nly means of surviving is to run away. The second brother is the middle-point of the two. He opposes the values of his time, yet he realizes that he must live with his family, as that is also an essential part of his life. By standing up to his family, but not in a way that he cuts off all ties entirely, he reaches the goal that neither of his brothers were able to. He is the only brother who does not suffer needlessly, leading to useless deaths, and is the only brother able to finally attain his true love. As a result, it may be claimed that in order for any of the three brothers to have succeeded in truly throwing off the Confucian mantle, he would need to do so through compromise. The solution is not through the sheer submissiveness of Chueh-hsin or the violent rebellion and escape of Chueh-hui, but through the strong resistance and slight compromises of Chueh-min.
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