Term Paper: Lives of the Three Generations of Chinese Women

Pages: 4 (1377 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

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¶ … Wild Swans: Three Daughter of China by Jung Chang. Specifically it will compare and contrast the lives of the three generations of Chinese women in the book (grandmother, mother, and daughter) by focusing on the following: childhood experiences, educational opportunities, family (love and marriages), and social and political roles. "Wild Swans" is an emotional look and the lives of women in China under different rules, including Communism. The three main characters - grandmother, mother, and daughter all live through some harrowing experiences but their story is an inspirational one of hope and sheer determination.

This book is a biography and autobiography rolled into one. In it, the author tells the story of her grandmother, mother, and finally herself. She shows several generations as they react with historical changes that take China from a feudal society to a modern one, but always a society where men rule over women and command their attention and their allegiance. Author Chang left China in 1978, and was the first Chinese woman from the People's Republic of China to receive a degree at a British university. She lives in London, but still writes and talks about her homeland. This story opens up her life and the lives of her relatives for the world to see how difficult it is to grow up in China, male or female.

The first to make an appearance in the book is Chang's grandmother, Yu-fang. She is born in 1909, when China is still a feudal society, with many social customs that have now disappeared, such as binding the feet of young girls. Yu-fang's feet were bound when she was young, and her father gave her as a concubine to a "warlord general" when she was only fifteen. She lived at a time when China was under great turmoil. The Manchu empire was dissolving, republican governments were appearing and disappearing, and the country was moving slowly toward modernization is many ways. However, Yu-fang was different in many ways. At a time when it was considered "virtuous for a lower class woman to be illiterate" (Chang 25), Yu-fang received an education. Her new "husband" did not love her, and in fact was absent from her for long stretches of time.

Chang's mother is a product of the union between the general and Yu-fang, was born in 1931, and her name was Bao Qin. Eventually, the grandmother was set free from her obligation to the general and she married a doctor, who raised Bao Qin as his own. However, his family did not accept her or her mother, and Bao Qin, renamed "De-hong," or "Wild Swan" was bullied and mistreated in the doctor's household. They left the area and moved to Jinzhou, which was occupied by the Japanese, and their fortunes changed. However, they were happy, and De-hong also received an education, but a Japanese-controlled education, far different from Chinese study. The family began to live in fear of the Japanese and reprisals because of their dislike of the Japanese domination.

De-hong lived through World War II, Japanese atrocities, and the end of the war. She became deeply involved in the Communist Party after marrying a young Communist. Different from her mother, she was involved in political decisions, worked outside the home, and raised her child, Chang, mainly by nursemaids because she was so busy with her job in the Communist regime. She shows how China was changing, and women were becoming far more involved in the society and in the political process. She also rejected the young man her family had picked out for her to marry, something her own mother could never have done. As the author notes when her mother leaves the family home, "In my grandmother's time, leaving home like this would have been out of the question" (Chang 84). Also women could also gain a higher education, and look forward to being more productive and fulfilled members of society, with more input into family and societal issues. She married for love, not family honor or duty, and it was this union that produced the author, Jung Chang.

The author grew up in a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Lives of the Three Generations of Chinese Women.  (2005, May 17).  Retrieved December 10, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/lives-three-generations-chinese-women/43282

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"Lives of the Three Generations of Chinese Women."  17 May 2005.  Web.  10 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/lives-three-generations-chinese-women/43282>.

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"Lives of the Three Generations of Chinese Women."  Essaytown.com.  May 17, 2005.  Accessed December 10, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/lives-three-generations-chinese-women/43282.