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Response Paper: New Breeds In Modern Urban Life (China)

1214 words - 5 pages

After the May Fourth Movement, Chinese citizens experienced a “transitional generation” in which the meanings and cultural ideas of family and roles of men and women in the society were redefined. Through a more creative piece, A Happy Family, Lu Xun, China’s revolutionary literary figure, presented his ideas of what the nucleus family in the city might be like. Glosser’s article takes this idea further and expands it to household management and women’s roles as depicted by You Huaigao. Whereas, the film Wan jia deng huo explores this issues in finer nuances portraying the possible conflicts that rose from adopting a modern urban life after living the traditional lifestyle that they were ...view middle of the document...

” The function of families had therefore been reduced down to production and consumption. Because of his focus on the economic element of family, You blamed the extended family for fostering economic ineptitude and interference in its junior members’ marriages. This is depicted well in the firm Wan jia deng huo, where the Hu’s family suddenly finds it extremely difficult to make ends meet when the extended family moved in to live with them from the countryside. There were not enough spaces or (financial) resources to support all the members living in the urban Shanghai, which had high living expenses. You’s argument supports this point in the film well by saying “extended families are not managed well, profits are few, expenses are many. [It] is only confusion, tiresomeness, with never a moment’s peace.”
Although You’s reasons are valid, his support for xiao jiating (nucleus family) emphasizes too much on economical rather than the emotional function of the family. Mr. Wang’s submission of his description of the ideal family home reflects similar expectations to Lu Xun’s A Happy Family. However, Glosser observes that “only at the very end of his essay does Wang add human figures to his dream house.” This disconnection between the economical and emotional functions of the family could be interpreted as one of the integral reasons why Hu’s family broke apart in Wan jia deng huo. Initially, the film seems to praise the modern lifestyle of the nucleus family in urban Shanghai, showing that once it expanded to extended family, there were a lot of problems. However, although the family was altogether in one household, they were tied by purely economic reasons. When that aspect turned unstable as Hu Zhiqing became unemployed, everyone left him. The end of the film shows that he finally found happiness again when everyone came back and realized they were stronger and better off together. Therefore, the message in this film serves as an indirect response to challenge the actual values that You Huaigao advocates for having a nucleus family or xiao jiating. It brings forth the question of whether or not the nucleus family could maintain an optimal balance between economical and emotional factors. Personally, I think that the equilibrium could be achieved over time. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see that businessmen, writers, filmmakers alike were all putting forward their ideas of how the new breeds of family in China should be during that time. From the audiences receiving all this information, it must had been even more conflicting to form their own interpretations of what they could and should do with...

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