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. Here, the audience is able to see the challenge ahead. Ding wants to fulfill his mother’s last request, which is to give her the proper burial that respects her traditional mindset. However, he faces the pressure 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 ca...
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...as 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 of individualism. The laws of New China are underlying and not clearly expressed; however, there is a sense of societal acceptance for the ethical construct of these new protocols. 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.
Under the Red Flag, Ha Jin
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