Theme Of Down To The Countryside Movement By Han Shaogong

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Han Shaogong captures the emotion and experiences of the Cultural Revolution, and the Down to the Countryside Movement from the perspective of an educated youth in his novel, “A Dictionary of Maqiao.” In the novel, the reader follows an educated youth as he travels to the countryside as a part of Mao’s “Down to the Countryside Movement.” The “Down to the Countryside Movement” was an effort by Mao Zedong to eradicate the anti-bourgeois thinking that he believed was prevalent in his country. Mao Zedong decided to send privileged youths, many who had just graduated, to the country and mountainside to learn about life there. Han Shaogong wrote about experiences from the “Down to the Countryside Movement” because it directly affected him, as he …show more content…
The main theme that Han Shaogong presents to the reader though is the theme of change and the concept that progressive change can live alongside tradition if they try to understand each other. In “Cultural Lexicology: Maqiao Dictionary by Han Shaogong,” the author presents the viewpoint that “A Dictionary of Maqiao” was a part of the “Search for Roots” movement, where Han tried to, “rediscover China’s cultural past through a critical appropriation.” The article presents quotes from Han Shaogong about the ability to write inspirational national literature from the “blood-soaked book of history.” The author also revealed an aspect to Han’s opinion on how we should look at the past with Han’s use of the word xixiu, which means absorption. Han wanted to look at the past and be able to absorb what happened and learn from it, but still have tradition and culture present in this modern time. Han shows that with both tradition and progressive values in culture, the society will flourish better than if only one is focused …show more content…
The man who called the narrator “Old Chum” set up his life again in a different town and even called the town Maqiao. Some scholars or critics of the argument above may say this is a representation of not having to change in society and still being fine, but that is not the case. The man is scared of change and runs away from the unknown, then sets up a place that he knows, and names it after the place he had just left. This is not the major theme of the novel though, I believe this was an example of what you should not do in society, just stick to the things that you believe are true when life changes. This man had a personal tragedy that could have changed some aspects of his life, but he did not experience it so he does not know what would happen. As said above in Afterword, Han Shaogong is trying to challenge people to experience the other side of culture and create their own “individual dictionary.” The man in “Old Chum” does not want to make his own “individual dictionary” he wanted to stick to the same dictionary as before, which is why the man has named his town Maqiao. Han Shaogong shows a radical change to an educated youth’s life during the Down to the Countryside Movement. The change was at first rejected and thought of as something

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