Tradition and Modernity Within Spring Silkworms

1805 Words Dec 24th, 2006 8 Pages
Tradition and Modernity within Spring Silkworms

Mao Dun, author of "Spring Silkworms", was a twentieth century Chinese novelist, critic, organizer, editor, and advocate for Chinese Communism. According to David Wang, Mao Dun was one of the most versatile Chinese literati among the May Fourth generation. Mao Dun was an advocate and practitioner of European naturalism. Motivated by history and politics, Mao Dun has introduced western literary ideas to China in his novels. As a left wing writer Mao Dun focuses on the peasant's point of view and relies on his depiction of reality to evoke change. A good example of this style of writing is the story "Spring Silkworms". "Spring Silkworms" is about the trials and tribulations of an old
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We see in this scene that even though the younger generation wanted to adapt to the modern times by raising and selling foreign silkworms they still followed the old traditions and values by respecting their elder's decision and raising only the local variety. In the story we see that this proved costly because during that silkworm season the foreign silkworms sold for nearly ten dollars more than the local variety. The poor result forced Old Tong Bao to finally compromise and raise one tray of the foreign silkworms for the next season but this would prove too little too late as Old Tong Bao's stubbornness and inability to modernize laid the seeds for the family's eventual downfall. Mao Dun uses superstition in the story a lot and it plays a large role as a representation of tradition. There are many examples of how Old Tong Bao uses old superstitions to guide his actions. These superstitious beliefs can be attributed to traditional Chinese culture. An example from the story would be when Old Tong Bao made the entire family skip a meal to purchase a special tray pasting paper to be used to grow the silkworms. Old Tong Bao believes that last seasons eggs hatched poorly because the family had used old newspaper for tray paper. Old superstitions say that using paper with writing on them such as newspaper was unlucky for egg hatching