The Effect of Society on the Outcome of an Individual’s Goals in Lao She’s “Rickshaw Boy”

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The effect of society on the outcome of an individual’s goals in Lao She’s “Rickshaw Boy”

In our present society, the role of an individual may seem to have little significance in the grand scheme of things. However, the lifestyle one partakes is important, and it will shape not only oneself, but will also influence many of those around, as well as society influencing the role of the individual. In the novel “Rickshaw Boy” by Lao She, the protagonist, Xiangzi, is representative of an average man in the lower class of early 20th century China; starting out as an honest and likeable rickshaw puller in Beiping, he has a slow and gradual descent throughout the novel into the self-centered and tragic man he is by the end. This is certainly
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He will not move up in the world as there is no room to grow, and he will not become rich or powerful as there is no way he can build himself up that high when starting off so low. He is, above all, alone in his life, getting attached to material possessions and money, with no real chance of settling down with a family. Closer to the end of the novel, She even states that “he had gradually come to fit into the ‘rickshaw man’ groove of behaviour,” and “What the average rickshaw man considered proper, he did too... you travel with the crowd or not at all.” This is the life of a rickshaw man.
One factor that can be considered a reason for all this is the individualistic point of view that is so common among this sector of society. The rickshaw pullers care for themselves above all, and it’s easy for this to be taken too far. Xiangzi begins to feel fewer and fewer positive emotions towards others and becomes apathetic to most people in his life. He even goes as far to say that “Worrying about other people is a waste of time.” Though they may have dreams of living in a way where they can take time to care for a family, to help out a friend, the rickshaw pullers ultimately work to keep themselves alive. Perhaps if Xiangzi had been less concerned with the outcome of his own life at the beginning of the novel, things would have turned out differently. As Lao She says, “Someone who

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