Ha Jin – The Bridegroom Essay

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Ha Jin – The Bridegroom
Described as utopian in nature, the Chinese culture is often in pursuit for the perfect individual, a harmonious and structured society where the citizens as a whole create the ideal culture. In a collection of short stories entitled The Bridegroom, author Ha Jin documents this aspect of reality in homeland China. Primarily for the purposes of instruction and satirical verse, Ha Jin, shows how people are trying to find themselves in a society that focuses on the ‘whole’ of the country rather than the individual. He is able to interconnect this theme of individualism through four major stories in the book while presenting ‘Chineseness’ or satire of fictional verse as a way to focus on the changes throughout China
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The Chinese government was organized and wanted to do what they thought was right for the state as a whole. Unfortunately for Guhan, he was loosing his identity and individualism for the greater good of China.
Abnormal behavior is never more apparent than in the story titled In the Kindergarten. When Shaona becomes the second child of her household, she is forced to live outside the city limits in a rural foster home. It is my assumption that Ha Jin is referring to the second child as a male since they are heavily praised in the Chinese Culture. The story depicts how children at a young age do whatever they want to do, inherit bad language and often misbehave. Social conformity and propaganda have yet to be ingrained, as quoted when Weilan, another student in the kindergarten is caught saying “Big asshole” (47) to another student, who in reply says, “Say that again, bitch! He went up to her, grabbed her shoulders, pushed her to the ground, and kicked her buttocks” (47). Compared to Alive, this story focuses on the Chinese attempt to secure conformity for all of its citizens. In my opinion, the Kindergarten story is what Chinese life is like prior to the events in the short story Alive. It shows the purity of children at an early age and how social norms are not necessarily inherited; they are learned.
Main characters Beina and Haung

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