Discuss a piece of the textbooks that we haven't talked about in class.
I chose Lu Xun’s “Diary of a Madman” because the introduction to it seemed intriguing. This story is ultimately a piece which criticizes the traditional culture of Chinese societies. The Chinese have wanted to be independent and have their own cultural identity, and the writers of their time gave them the hope for that change. Lu Xun is one of the important writers and his story “Diary of a Madman” uses the idea of cannibalism to describe the influence the Chinese traditions have on its members.
In the beginning of the work, the narrator visits his older brother and finds out that his younger brother died due to illness. The older brother gives the narrator the younger brother’s diaries. In the diaries are accounts where the younger brother feels he is a targeted victim in a gang of cannibals, including his own brother. He would walk the streets and everyone would give him malicious looks. He described some of the faces as being green-colored, and I immediately associated that with greed and hunger. The narrator ends up locked in a house and speaks about change from the cannibalistic traditions and is ignored. At the end, the narrator questions whether or not he had once been involved in the acts he’s speaking out against as a child, which is where Lu Xun’s ironic twists come into play. Lu Xun also uses his famous “Save the Children…” line to end this work. I interpreted this last statement as Lu Xun telling everyone to not allow their children to grow up learning traditional values which are unethical. The way children learn these ways is from the parent’s teachings. So, if the children are not taught old values, then they can grow up and be real human beings.
“Diary of a Madman” also represents the characteristics of the Chinese period. There is an apparent sense of a hierarchy with the emphasis on Elder, Young, and Old in the titles of some of the characters. Also, some of Confucius’s teachings came into play such as tradition and the hope of a perfect unity because the narrator actually mentions that “all they’d have to do is give up that way of thinking, and then they could travel about, work, eat, and sleep in perfect security”. Finally, this work is a great example of having rigidity because the traditions of the culture seem to be unchangeable.