Summary Of ' Nothing Happened '

Decent Essays
When reading Chan’s short story ‘Nothing Happened’, I notice an intriguing detail, which is that the protagonist of this story, Zhang Dezhi, an investment manager working all around the world, has a same name as his father, a businessman fleeing to Hong Kong after 1949. What is the significance of this detail of patronymic? Is it a symbol of the similarity of the father and son? In my view, it is a symbol of the repetition rather than the similarity of this two generations living in Hong Kong, a colonial city without history. Both generations live in this city with the desire of capital and without any disturbance of politics. As the protagonist signs: “We seem to live in the last chapter of history, the end of ideological contest, and what else could happen?” (Chen: 137). However, How does this experience of repetitive history, or stagnant history, provide a temporal thread for this story?

Through reading, I found that there are two temporal threads in the mind of protagonist, which are convolutedly twined, and along both threads Dezhi construct his memory and experience. First, there is a thread of the global capitalist system, in which Hong Kong is the starting point. On this thread, like Dezhi says: “My life is filled with all kinds of trifles and not bothered by history or state” (Chen: 41), or as he concluded his experience in Africa: “You need to see and act selectively. If you just see around randomly, you would find miseries around you and get panic. You need learn
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