Summary Of Yiyun Li's A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers

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Yiyun Li’s A Thousand Years of Good Prayers reflects Chinese culture in a foreign cultural background. This essay focuses on communication, a significant theme in this short story. Affected by the restrained culture in expressing oneself among Chinese, inadequate communication has led to the broken family relationship between the Chinese woman, Yilan and her father, Mr. Shi, and the broken romantic relationship between her and her husband. This essay will give evidence on how this idea is conveyed through Mr. Shi’s scandal and Yilan’s divorce, and its inspirations to present Chinese society.
Mr. Shi’s scandal reflects the extent of surpression in Chinese society by that time, and how it erodes of the parent-child relationship. In his farewell
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Yilan said she talks in Chinese poorly, in which she said the weakness was due to the lack of using Chinese to express her feelings. While Yilan denies that the claim that she was blaming her parents, Mr. Shi’s inattentive attitude during her childhood might have implicit effects on Yilan’s unwillingness to talk more in Chinese. However, when it comes to the lack of communication between her and her husband, there is more to add to the reason behind. Chinese has a high-context culture, where people often restrain themselves when expressing their own feelings (Kim et al. 511). The story has an implication to this idea when the Chinese-minded Mr. Shi describes Yilan as a “prostitute” while speaking sharply and loudly on the phone. When Chinese language was affected by the repressive culture, it creates an even larger barrier for Yilan to use it in communication, probably because of the feeling of being unable to express her feelings directly. Consequently, Yilan gave up communicating with to her husband in Chinese, when she found herself expressing herself more comfortably to the Romanian man in English. This was probably why she thinks English makes her a new person, because of the difficulty to express herself in a repressed manner using Chinese language, and this reflects the restraint of Chinese …show more content…
Yilan mentioned her divorce in a sense that she denies her life was being as desperate as Mr. Shi thinks; however the mention of Mr. Shi scandal was to criticise him. Back in the days of early PRC, even Yilan herself thinks that the affair between Mr. Shi and his card puncher was a betrayal to her and her mother; while she felt quite happy with doing exactly the same thing to her husband, when she had a divorce with him. This was probably due to the more open-minded culture in America, and compared to the criticism that Mr. Shi was facing because of the scandal, the repressiveness of Chinese culture was being emphasised. This was inspirational to our daily lives at the present as well; as globalisation has taken place where cultural exchange was encouraged, Chinese society seems to be affected by the Western culture and is becoming more open-minded, especially among the young people. The young people in China in the present are just like Yilan, a Chinese person affected by the American, or more generally, the Western culture. However, this seems to be unconstructive to improving communications in relationships, exemplified by the rising divorce rate in China (Zhang et al. 157). Beijing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court reported 93 per cent of divorce cases in 2016 caused by

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