Term Paper: Life and Death in Shanghai

Pages: 4 (1401 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] What is the importance of truth? Does truth even matter? Is anyone even willing to listen to the truth? How reliable is anyone's testimony or for that matter anyone's statement? Can one believe one's own friends, one's own family? Can one even expect what may happen to them at the hands of another person's lies through no fault of their own? Ian McEwan through this book is actually asking us to doubt everything. He points out that there is no such thing as a universal truth. Everything depends on who is telling, and what affect this person wants to cause the people around him or her.

In her book "The Violent Bear It Away," Flannery O'Connor demonstrates the battle between the forces of light and dark; good and evil; in other words a battle for the soul. It is the story of a backwoods Southern boy named Francis Marion Tarwater. The boy's great uncle, an Old Testament style patriarch, kidnapped him away from another uncle, George Rayber, and raised him to be a prophet of God. Upon his great uncle's death, Tarwater rejected the prophetic mission and headed to the city to live with his uncle, who tried to wean him away from the teachings of the great uncle. Through a series of increasingly violent actions Tarwater is eventually driven to accept the existence of God and good.

O'Connor has a different way of making humans realize the value of truth and the value of good. She propagates that violence and suffering are forces which would make an individual realize the significance of good over bad and enable him to make a final choice between the two. As the author writes in this book: "[Tarwater's] eyes were the eyes of the crazy student father, the personality was the old man's, and somewhere between the two, Rayber's own image was struggling to survive...The boy would either go Rayber's way or old Tarwater's," (The Violent Bear It All by Flannery O'Connor) grotesque way of doing things but that is what O'Connor highlights through her book. From beginning till the end, Rayber is the character in this book which signifies evil while the Old Uncle Tarwater represents good. Rayber wants to conform the child to his way of thinking and living, keeping him in his house, feeding him his kind of food, taking him on a trip and in general gaining control of his actions. These actions on Rayber's part mark him as a clear representation of the side of evil in the fight for Tarwater's soul. Rayber has totally twisted concepts, far from the truth. The author has Rayber saying, "It's Jesus or you," (The Violent Bear it All by Flannery O'Connor). In other words, Rayber is saying that one must choose between submission to Jesus or freedom in your own right, clearly propagating the latter.

In the battle to conform the boy towards either good or evil, violence emerges. When Rayber comes to take the boy from Tarwater he shoots his nephew. But one must realize that Old Tarwater only uses violence as a means of winning the battle between good and evil. The novel demonstrates that good and God can win over evil and the devil but it may require Violence which will bear it all in the end.

All these three books demonstrate the significance of truth and the priority it has in our daily lives. However, all of them have a very different approach of communicating the same message. In Life and Death in Shanghai, Nien Cheng demonstrates the power of truth and how it can supersede any calamity; in Atonement, Ian McEwan questions whether truth exists altogether or not and if it does, is there anyone to believe it and Flannery O'Connor revolves around the theme that good wins over evil at all costs and that the kingdom of heaven may suffer violence but the violence is what will bear it away in the end and that religion, truth and God would be the ultimate winner in the end.

Works Cited

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The Violent Bear It All by Flannery O'Connor [END OF PREVIEW]

Dragon Rising Book Report

Geopolitical Analysis of China From the President's Perspective Essay

Proposal for a Potential MSF Term Paper

Heroes of the Chinese Wuxia Tradition Essay

Portrait of the Warrior in Two Films Film Review

View 56 other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Life and Death in Shanghai.  (2003, May 11).  Retrieved August 25, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/life-death-shanghai/9468083

MLA Format

"Life and Death in Shanghai."  11 May 2003.  Web.  25 August 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/life-death-shanghai/9468083>.

Chicago Format

"Life and Death in Shanghai."  Essaytown.com.  May 11, 2003.  Accessed August 25, 2019.