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Walking out of darkness: a study of the characters in Turbulence and The Old Boat Zhou, Xiuyan 1992

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WALKING OUT OF DARKNESS:A STUDY OF THECHARACTERS IN TURBULENCEAND THE OLD BOATByZEIOUXIUYANB.A., BeijingNormal University, 1982A THESIS SUBMiTTEDIN PARTIAL FULFiLLMENTOFTHE REQUIREMENTSFOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTYOF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Asian Studies)We accept this thesisas conforming tothe required standard7V*7THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISHCOLUMBIASeptember 1992QZhou Xiuyan, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.Department ofStudiesThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDateSeptember 21, 1992DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThis M.A. thesisis a critical studyof two contemporaryChinesenovels: ha Pingwa’sTurbulence andZhang Wei’s The OldBoat. Thepurpose of thisstudy is to demonstratethe two novels’achievements andlimitations in portrayingthe images of Chinesepeasants in the reformera. ChapterOne provides thesynopses ofthese works anddiscusses their repercussionsin China. It alsogivesa brief account of theauthors’ backgroundsand the two novels’social and literary inilieu.Chapter Twodiscusses the thematicsimilarities and differencesof these works,with an emphasison theideological breakthroughsdemonstrated in thethemes. ChapterThree and ChapterFour analyse four groupsof characters, mainlyfrom the socialand historical perspective.The first groupconsists ofthe protagonists.Discussion concentrateson the characteristicsofthese protagonistsas educated peasantsand the conflictsbetweenthe opposing desiresand values withintheir respectivetemperaments.The second group ismade up of two characterswhobelieve in “combatingevil with evil”. Thecomplexities oftheirpersonalities andthe meanings of their failuresare explored. Thethird group comprisesthe villains. Attentionis focused on thenegative aspect of thepeasant revolution andthe influence of theclan system. The fourthgroup includes a fewsupporting characters.11Chapter Five deals withthe artistic techniquesemployed by theauthors in characterization.It examines how thetwo authorspresent the personalitiesand feelings of thecharacters by thereproduction of theirspeech and movement,or through thedescriptions of thephysical settings.This chapter also probesthefunctions of thesymbols used in theseworks. ChapterSix drawssome conclusions basedon the above discussion.It points out themeanings of these worksin the contextof modern Chinese literature.111TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT iiTABLE OF CONTENTSivACKNOWLEDGMENTSvCHAPTER ONE:1NTRODUCTION 1CHAPTER TWO: THETHEMATIC CONTENT15CHAPTER THREE: THECHARACTERS, I39CHAPTER FOUR: THECHARACTERS, II63CHAPTER FIVE:STYLISTIC FEATURES88CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSIONS112GLOSSARY OF CHINESENAMES, TITLES ANDTERMS 117BIBLIOGRAPHY123ivACKNOWLEDGMENTSI wish to expressmy sincere gratitudeto my supervisor, ProfessorMichael S. Duke,for his encouragementand guidance throughoutmystudy. I would alsolike to thank ProfessorsCatherine Swatek, RenéGoldman and KennethE. Bryant for their carefulreading of thisthesis and for theirvaluable comments.Thanks are dueas well toMr. Ray Kennedy forproofreading mywork.vCHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONIn late 1986 and the beginningof 1987, two novelspublishedin Chinese literary magazinesattracted extensiveattention in China.One of the novelsis Jia Pingwas Turbulence(Fuzao); the otherisZhang Weis TheOld Boat(Gu chuan).’ Both works areset in ruralChina during the reformyears and the authorsare both youngwriters of peasantorigin.In the first decadeof the post-Maoera, about 1,000novelswere published inChina, equal to6 times the total numberof novelsproduced duringthe period 1949- 1966.2However, veryfew ofthese works receivedserious critical attention.Most of themfell intooblivion in a very shorttime. In this context,the reception accordedto Turbulence andThe Old Boat canbe considered quite unusual.Critical articles appearedshortly after their publicationandcontinued to appear innewspapers and magazinesduring thefollowing years. Somesymposiums werealso held to discuss these‘Turbulence was firstpublished in Shouhuono.1(1987) and then reprinted inbook form. (Beijing: ZuojiaChubanshe, 1987). The Old Boatwas first publishedin Dangdai no.5(1986) and then reprinted in book form.(Beijing: Renminwenxue chubanshe,1987).2See Song Suiliang,“My Views on the Current Situationof Novel Creation’,[Duichangpian xiaoshuo chuangzuoxianzhuang de yidiankanfa] , WenhuibaoSeptember 1, 1986.1novels. Althoughcritics have differentopinions on certainpoints, it isgenerally agreedthat these novelsare superior to thevast majorityof contemporaryChinese literaryworks. They are called“excellentnovels, panoramic works”and even epic works.Some criticsconsider that theseworks haveplayed a role in makingthe novel animportant literaryphenomenonin todays China.3What is it in Turbulenceand The Old Boat thatarouses theinterest of the criticsand general readersin China? Whatis thethematic importanceand the artistic meritof these works?In thisthesis I willattempt some answersto these questionsby way ofanalyzing a numberof charactersin the two novels.I will alsodiscuss the authorsideological limitationsdisplayed in theseworksand try to linkthese limitations withsome of the problemsthat havehaunted modern Chineseculture in general.Turbulence and TheOld Boat are worksclosely relatedto socialreality. And apparently,the authors are concernedwith the socialand intellectual issuesbeing hotly debated inChina. Consciouslyorunconsciously, they participatein the debates withtheir creativeworks. From the pointof view that artistic geniuseshave very little3These remarks can be foundin many articles, suchas Hu Weishi, ‘ZhangWei’s New Work The OldBoat Is Warmly Receivedby Literary Circles” [ZhangWei xinzuo Guchuan, wentanfanying qiangliel, ShanRhaiwenxue no.2(1 987):96; Zhao Zuhan, ‘At the backof the Karma” [Yinguobaoying debeihou],Wenxue zivoutanno.5 (1989):87-94; Wang Lifen, ‘On theThematic Evolution ofthe New-era Novel and ItsCharacteristics” [Changpianxiaoshuo zhuti yanbiantezheng tantaoj Wenxue ziyoutanno.5 (1989):27-34; Feng Lisan,“A GloomyLook-back and a Joyful Look-forward”[Chenzhong de huiguyu xinyue dezhanwang], Dangdaino.! (1988):221-232.2to say to a social-politicalanalyst and that trueliterature is “ofnopractical value whatsoever’,4Turbulence and TheOld Boat might notbe regardedas masterpieces of“true Literature. Thereare tworeasons whyI want to make a seriousstudy of these twoworks.First, realistic workshave been the mainstreamof modern Chineseliterature. Todaythey still occupya dominant positionamongliterary productsin China. Some of theseworks are very wellwritten and theyshould not be neglected.In my view, the authorsinterest in the explorationof real social problems doesnotnecessarily compromisethe aesthetic valueof his works. AsC.T. Hsiaonce pointed out: ‘Themore problems a workof literature explores,not merely socialproblems but also politicaland metaphysical;themore it is concernedwith justice, notmerely social justicebut theultimate justiceof man’s fate--the greaterit is, provided in tacklingthese problems, theauthor is not merelyapplying ready-madesolutions in thespirit of didactic simplification.”5He also spoke veryhighly of some modernrealistic novels, andcalled them “worksofpassion and insight,exploring a wide rangeof social andphilosophical problemstouching on man’s fate”.6In my view,Turbulence andThe Old Boat belong tothis category of literarywork.They are not only superiorto the great majorityof the post-Maoliterary products, butalso can be rated amongthe most powerfulworks publishedsince the May Fourthera. So I consider thatthey4See Pierre Ryckmans “Forward”,in Kam Louies Between Factand Fiction.Victoria, Australia: WildPeony PTY Ltd, 1989.5C.T. Hsia, “On the ‘Scientific’Study of Modern Chinese Literature-AReply toProfessor Prusek” in JaroslavPrusek, The Lyrical andthe Epic , Bloomington:Indiana University Press,1980:235.6Ibid.:235.3are worthy ofa careful study. Secondly,Turbulence and TheOldBoat can be regardedas revealing examplesof good post-Maoliterature. I hopethe analysis of thesetwo works will leadto abetter understandingof the achievements andlimitations of thewhole new era Chineseliterature.Turbulence is a storyabout Shangzhou(Shanxi Province,) wherea number of Jia Pingwasworks are set. Thevillage Xianyouchuaniswell known asthe hometown of cadres.The Gong clan and theTianclan all have theirmembers holding importantoffices at thetownship, county andprefectural levels. Othervillagers are allregarded as second-ratepeople. Among themis the painters sonJingou. He returnshome as a demobilizedsoldier and startsa riskyriver transport business.At the same time hefalls in love with theferrymans niece Xiaoshui.When Jingousbusiness booms, thePartySecretary of the townshipTian Zhongzhenggets into it. Tianreorganizes it intoa transport team andhe himself becomesa typicalgood cadre wholeads the peasantsto become rich. Jingouis verydisappointed.At this time somebody fromthe prefecturalnewspaper comes tothe county to recruitreporters. Jingouis wellqualified, but Tian Zhongzhengwants to give these positionsto hisrelatives. As Jingouis fighting in every wayhe can for the position,Yingying suddenly fallsin love with him. Jin’goudoes not love her,but he can not resist thetemptation of sleepingwith her. Soon theyare engaged and Jingougets the position. He feelsguilty about hisbetraying Xiaoshui. Xiaoshuiis heartbroken, but sheforgives him.Jingou starts his new careeras a reporter in the prefecturalcapital.4He works and studiesvery hard, trying to overcomehis peasantconsciousness.He goes to the mountainsto interview the stillimpoverished peasantsand writes a reportcovering thistrip. Butthe report doesnot meet with theapproval of the chiefeditor.Jingou has to sendit to the Peooles Daily.In the meantime,he ismore and moreestranged from Yingyingand starts an affairwith ShiHua, an attractivemarried woman.Jingous reportis publishedbythe Peoples Daily,he becomes famousand also furtherrealizes thathe should neverforget his duty tothe peasants.He goes back to hishome county asa resident reporterand finally breaksup withYingying. But Xiaoshuihas already marriedanother young peasantnamed Fuyun.Jingous fellow villagerLei Dakong is a smartyoung man. Heand Fuyunwork together asraftsmen on the river.One day theycatch Tian Zhongzhengtrying to rape Xiaoshui.Dakong chopsoff oneof Tians toes as apunishment. Forthis Dakong isarrested. Jingoutakes advantage ofhis capacityas a reporter to moveamong theofficials. With hishelp Dakong is released.Dakong has learnedagood lesson in thejail. Since he hasno power, he decidesto makemore money to beatthe Tian family. He startsa business withillegally obtainedmoney. The businessbooms. Dakong becomesafamous peasant entrepreneur.He bribes all hisway through andassociates with theofficials from the Tianand Gong clans forprotection. He does notpay attention to Jingouswarning, but hekeeps a detailed recordof the officials who takehis bribes. In caseanything happensto him, he will publicizethe record.5To welcome the PLAcommander from theprovincial capital,thelocal Tian officialswant some bear pawsto prepare a banquet.Theyforce Fuyun tojoin a bear-hunting team.Fuyun is killed bya bear.In extreme sorrowand anger, Jingouwrites a report coveringthewhole story. By makinguse of the conflictsbetween the Tianandthe Gong officials,he finally has the Tianofficials punished.Thiscreates a great sensationthroughout the wholeShangzhou area.Dakong is thrownin jail again., this timefor selling moldy treeseedsto another province.He confesses allhis crimes, includingthebribery and all theillegal activities involvinghigh officials and theirfamily members.He is murderedin prison, but the publicis toldthat he commits suicide.Jingou is also arrestedfor his relation withDakong and is accusedof bribery. Under hisinstruction, Xiaoshuigoes to the prefecturalcapital to seekhelp from Shi Hua.In order torescue Jingou, ShiHua sleeps with theson of the provincialPLAcommander in exchangefor the commanderslooking into the case.Jingou is released.He resigns his job at theprefectural newspaperand goes backto his home village, wherehe marries Xiaoshuiandstarts a new businesson the river.The story of The OldBoat takes place inWalizhen, a small townin Shandong Province.For many years peoplein this town earn theirliving by making fensi7in addition to doingfarm work. The Suifamily owns a largefensi business. Whenthe Land Reform begins,Vermicelli made from beanstarch. For convenience the Chineseterm fensiwill be used throughout this thesis.6Sui Yingzhi is runningthe fensi business whichhe inheritedfrom hisfather. He turns overmost of his propertyto the Communistauthorities and soondies of a hemorrhage.His family suffers greatlyin the subsequent LandReform. Sui Yingzhiswife commits suicide.His children Baopu,Jiansu and Hanzhang havegone through a veryhard time on accountof their bad class status. Baopuwitnesses allthe tragedies of theLand Reform, the GreatLeap Forward, the yearsof famine and the CulturalRevolution. He becomesa reticent man.He spends a lot of his timereading The CommunistParty Manifestoand pondering over the sadevents that happenedin the past, tryingto find out the sourceof the suffering in thelife of Walizhensresidents. He loves hiswife Guigui, but she starvesto death duringthe famine years. Thenhe falls in love with anothergirl Xiaokui, butshe is forced to marrysomebody else. Baopu doesnot even have thecourage to get her backafter her husbands death.Baopus uncle SuiBuzhao is a strange personin the eyes of the locals.His greatest wishis to go to sea. He runs awayfrom home as a childand returns to thetown frustrated after manyyears, with a lot of storiesabout hisadventure on the sea. Inthe reform years, the governmentencourages individuals tolease and manage the fensi factoryin thetown. People expectBaopu to take it. Jiansu especiallyhopes hisbrother can get the fensibusiness back in the handsof the Suifamily. But Baopu is not interestedin it. Consequently, the fensifactory is leased to Zhao Duoduo,who has persecuted the Sui familysince the Land Reform andis their chief enemy. Jiansu is verydisappointed. He decides to starthis own business. He runs a smallstore in town. It turns out to be a success.Then he goes to the city7and sets up a storewith somebodyelse. City life broadenshishorizons and alsomakes him more ambitious.In order to makemore money, heassociates with somepowerful people andengagesin some illegal activities.But he is cheatedand loses all his capital.His store is sealedup by the authorities.He himself suffers fromanincurable diseaseand is taken backto his hometownby his brotherBaopu. Besidesthe Sui clan, thereare also the Zhao clanand the Liclan in the town.Grandpa Four ZhaoBing is the most powerfulperson in the Zhaoclan as well asin the whole town. Wheneverthetown is in trouble,he is always theperson who makes decisionsandsolves problems.But in most cases,he is also the one whocausestrouble behindthe scenes. He protectsBaopus sister Hanzhangfrombeing violated by ZhaoDuoduo, and takesher as his nominaldaughter, but aftera few years, he himselfforces her to have sexwith him and maintainsthe relationship formany years. Hanzhangfinally decides tokill him but only woundshim. Hanzhang isarrested for attemptedmurder. Baopu writesa long statement tosubmit to the court,trying to help his sister.Zhao Duoduos illegalactivities in managingthe fensi business areexposed. He is killedina car accident while drivingdrunk. Baopu finally decidesto takeover the fensi businessand to run it for the peopleof the town.In order to better understandTurbulence and the OldBoat, it isnecessary to have a look atthe authors personal experienceas wellas the social and literarybackground of the creationof the novels.8Jia Pingwa was bornin a mountain villagein Danfeng County,Shanxi Province in1952. He received his highschool educationduring the CulturalRevolution. Before graduationhe left school towork in the fields.In 1972, he enteredthe Northwest Universityand studied in theChinese Departmentfor three years. He graduatedin 1975. Since then hehas been workingin the editorialdepartmentof the magazine Wenxueshidai (LiteraryTimes). He began topublish his fictionin 1973. His shortstory The Full Moon(Manyuer) won the Prizefor Excellent Short Storiesin 1978. Anotherstory January and December‘ (Zhengyue Layue) wonthe sameprize in 1984.He is now one of the mostprolific writersin China.Before Turbulence ,a group of his worksknown as TheShangzhouSeries had alreadyreceived the attentionof literary circlesin China.A great number of hisworks have beenreprinted outside of Chinaand some of them havebeen translated into English.Zhang Weis experienceis similar to that of JiaPingwa. He wasborn in Huangxian County,Shandong Provincein 1956, and was alsobrought up in the countryside.In 1980, He graduatedfrom theChinese Departmentof Yantai Normal College.Then he worked formore than four years inthe administrative officeand the archives ofthe Shandong provincialParty Committee.Since 1983, he has beenworking as a full-timewriter in the LiteraryCreation Office ofShandong Province. Heis also the member of the editorialcommitteeof Shandon wenxue.His first story was publishedin 1980. His shortstories Sound (Shengyin)and A Pond of Clear Water(Yitanqingshui) won the Prizes forExcellent Short Storiesin 1982 and 19849respectively. By theend of 1986, he had alreadypublished overfifty fictional works.The Old Boat is hisfirst novel.Jia Pingwa and Zhang Weibelong to a groupof writers whomsome critics describedas Nongyi Chengjiwriters (city residentsofpeasant origin).8 Thesewriters were born inthe rural areas after1949. They wereonce down-to-earthcountry boys. So theyknoweverything of the peasantlife. Later, by onemeans or another,they‘jumped out’ of therural areas and became residentsof the city. Buttheir families or relativesare still in the countryside.They maintaina “flesh-and--blood”connection with thepeasants. Most ofthem keepgoing back to the countrysideto help with the farmwork. When theywrite about the peasantsthey write as insiders.It is true that thesewriters cherisha deep affection forthe rural areas. Jia Pingwaoncewrote: “I am a manfrom the mountainsWhen I was in themountains, I lovedthe mountains. AfterI left them, I loved themeven more wheneverI had a chance, I wentback to themountains.”(Here the mountains refer tohis home village.)9 But,despite all their lovefor rural life, the writerswon’t go back to thecountryside to be peasantsagain. It is quite clearthat they are notsatisfied with the materialconditions in the rural areasand thecultural level of thepeasants. What thewriters love is not thecountryside in reality,but the countryside in their nostalgicdreams.See Li Xing, “On the PsychologicalWorld of the Writers WhoAre CityResidents of Peasant Origin”[Lun “nongyi chengji” zuojia de xinlishijielDangdai zuojia t,iriglun no.2(1989):112—120.9Jia Pingwa, “A Guide to the Mountains: Foreword”in Stories about TheMountains[Shandi bijil, Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chubanshe,1980.10In these dreamsthey need only todeal with the brightside of rurallife. During the Maoistyears the powerholders usedto teach the expeasant writers to believethat their dreamswere realitiesinCommunist China.As a result, thosewriters createdin their worksamythical picture ofa healthy and optimisticrural society. Themostimportant characteristicof the post—Mao ex-peasantwriters lies intheir critical attitudetowards rural reality.They combinein theirworks the attachmentof an ex-peasantto rural life withthe criticalperspective ofan intellectual equippedwith modern thought.Intheir creative works,the former accountsfor their strongemotionand the latter contributesto their remarkableinsights.In a certain sensethese writers arevery lucky. If it werenotfor the great changestaking place in thereform years, JiaPingwaand Zhang Wei couldhave been just anotherZhao Shulior Haoran.Only for the purposeof having their workspublished, they wouldhave to write in comformitywith the Partys line.In fact, JiaPingwa’s early prize-winningstory The Full Moonlooks verysimilar to some of Haoransworks. It is the politicalclimate, socialchanges and literaturedevelopmentin the post-Mao era thatemancipated theauthors minds andalso provided them withthesubject matter for thecreation of novelslike Turbulence and TheOldBoat.In the l980s, the politicaland economic reformsbrought farreaching changes throughoutChina. These changes wereespeciallygreat in the rural areas.First of all, with the implementationof the11household responsibilitysystem, the land wascontroled byindividual peasantfamilies. This greatlyboosted the productivityofthe peasants.As a result, the agriculturalyields and the peasantincomes increased.As we can see in Turbulenceand The Old Boatthe material lifeof the peasants ismuch better than before.Secondly, in orderto solve the problemof the redundant labourforcein the countryside,the government encouragedthe developmentofindustry, commerceand transportationservices in thecountryside.In 1986, there wereabout 15 millionrural enterprisesin China.They employed about80 million workerswho were still consideredto be peasants butdid not engagein cultivation. The fensifactoryworkers in The OldBoat belong tothis category of peasants.Themajority of ruralenterprises involvedcollective property,but therewere also privateones whose ownersemployed labourersand someof them made big profits,such as Lei Dakong’scompanyin Turbulence. Thirdly,economic andpolitical changes naturallybrought about the changesin the cultural sphere.Many conceptsaccepted in theMaoist era, such asclass struggleand the glory ofpoverty’ were undergoingradical revision.Many traditional valueswere also shaken.Ideas like acceptanceof one’s place”, ‘ Loyaltytoauthority’, “absolutehonesty and sincerity”all became questionable.Naturally, the changesof ideas also affected people’sattitudestowards love, sex andmarriage. As the reformswere deepening,problems began to emergeand continued to springup, such as, thecorruption amongParty and government officials,new socialinjustice, and illegal activitiesof the “entrepreneurs”. TheChinesepeople were in the processof an agonizing transitionfrom the old to12the new social structureand moral values.Turbulence and TheOldBoat are partlythe reflection of the mental stateof the Chinesepeople in this stageof history.The first decade of the post-Maoera also witnessedthe rapiddevelopment of Chineseliterature. Immediatelyafter the fall of theGang of Four, theLiterature of the Woundedemerged to exposethewrongdoings of the CulturalRevolution. Thenthe Literature ofReflection followedto expand the writers criticalretrospection ofthe Partys earlier historicalwrongs. At the sametime, someliterary works speciallydealing with the themeof the reforms madeup the Literature ofReform. In the years1985 and 1986, culturalissues became themain subjects of theintellectual discourse.Correspondingly,the ‘Nativist Literature’came on the scene.With anumber of successfulliterary works, thisschool attracted theattention of scholarsand critics both athome and abroad.Inaddition to NativistLiterature, the riseof the ‘ModernistLiterature” is alsonoteworthy; writersof this category emphasizetheemancipation of thethinking subjectand the employment ofnontraditional narrativetechniques. The processof the development ofpost-Mao literature hasbeen discussed at lengthby many scholarsinside and outsidemainland China.’0 Someof the characteristicsofthe new era literaturewill be discussed laterin this thesis incombination with thestudy of Turbulenceand The Old Boat.10For example, see Tsai Yuanhuan, “Thesecond Wave: Recent Development inMainland Chinese Literarture’,Issues and Studies, no.8(1989):1l-28.131n1986, the timewas ripe for theemergence of maturenovelscreatedon the basis of the writersindividual aestheticprinciplesand their personalunderstanding of life.It seems to me thatTurbulence andThe Old Boat are amongthese mature works.In thenext chapterI will examine the thematiccontent of the twonovels.14CHAPTER TWOTHE THEMATIC CONTENTTurbulence and TheOld Boat present a broadpicture of Chineserural life in the l980s.(In the case of The Old Boat, becauseof thefrequent flashbacks, thestory actually coversa much longer timespan, from Land Reformto the post-Maoreforms.) In this picture,the two works succeedin bringing out all ofthe basic features ofpresent-day Chinesesociety. It is in thissense that they arecalledpanoramic works.The thematic contentsof these works are verycomplex. The twonovels share at leastthree major themes.The OldBoat has anothertheme which is absentin Turbulence; Turbulencealso has some thematicmessages one cannotfind in The Old Boat.One common themeof these two worksis the exposure of thedark side of Chinese rurallife. The two worksboth depict thepeasants material poverty.In The Old Boat, thedescription offamine is very striking.The implementationof the ultra-leftpolicies” in the GreatLeap Forward causes thedestruction ofagriculture and resultsin widespread famine.The peasants inWalizhen have toeat chaff, bean dregs, wildherbs, tree leaves, deadbirds, pet cats, earthworms,beetles, even bark and tenderbranches.Many die of starvation. The survivorsare too weak to bury them.15In the reform years,there have been someimprovementsin theliving standardsof the peasants.A few peasants evenhave the titleof “Ten-thousand-yuanhousehold” (wanyuanhu);but in some areaspeople still livein extreme poverty.In Turbulence, the reporterJin’gou visits a fewmountainous villagesin Dongyang county.Thepeasants there areshort of food andclothes. Their bodiesareswollen becauseof malnutrition. Whatis more terrible isthe localofficials’ attitudetoward the peasants’plight. Jin’gou is invitedbythe local governmentto visit Dongyangand cover the ‘excellentsituation” in thiscounty. The countyParty Secretaryis very eager toshow Jingou all thenewly rich peasants.At the sametime he doeshis best to concealfrom Jin’gou thetrue situation of theimpoverished villagers.This reminds oneof the tendencytoexagerate achievementsand minimize difficultiesin the Great LeapForward, which waspartly responsiblefor the subsequentfamineyears and has costmillions of humanlives.The depiction of extremematerial povertyis no doubt of greathuman significance, buteven more importantis the exposure of thedarkness in the peasants’spiritual life, a lifewithout human dignityor freedom. The peasantslive at the bottom of society.Their fate isunder the controlof those above them.Whenever they aremistreated by thepower holders, thebest way they can dealwith itis to swallow it. In Turbulence,when the township PartySecretaryTian Zhongzhenguses his influence to acquiresome houses in thevillage, the villagers aregreatly indignant. Butwhen Tian dismantlesthese formerly communalhouses and uses the materialto rebuild his16own house, most ofthe villagers giveTian presents and offertheirlabour. They fearthat if they fail to doso, Tian will make thingshard for themlater.The two novelsalso show that inrural China the peasantspersonal safety isby no means guaranteed.In The Old Boat,thenarrator frequentlylooks back to theMaoist years andtells abouthow power holders cruellytortured and humiliatedthose peasantswho had offendedthem. In the post-Maoperiod, individualhumanlife is still accordedminimal importance.Fuyun, the youngpeasantcharacter in Turbulence,is forced , despitehis inexperience,to join abear-hunting teamand is killed bya bear, all this tosatisfy a highofficial’s liking forbear paws. Thelocal officials tryto settle thiscase by giving Fuyun’swife only two hundredyuan RMB,which iseven less than theprice of a cow.Among the peasants,women and thosewith bad classbackground suffer morethan others. Peasantwomen are alwaysthevictims of the power holders’sexual violence.In The Old Boat,nearly all the womenworking in the fensifactory have beensexuallyharassed by Zhao Duoduo,the head of the factory.These women donot complain aboutthis for fear of losingtheir jobs. In Turbulence,the township PartySecretary Tian Zhongzhengonce says with pride:“in the area undermy control, no woman whomI was interestedinever disobeyed me.”1’People with badclass status do nothave any1Turbulence, Beijing: ZuojiaChubanshe, 1987: 279.Page numbers aresubsequently given in the text.17kind of human rights, noteven nominal rights.Among all the maincharacters in thesetwo novels, no onehas a more miserable lifethanSui Hanzhang. Sheis a beautiful womanand at the same timeisfrom a family with badclass background;thus she is doomedto bemiserable. Aftershe is violated by thepowerful Zhao Bing, shedecides not to go backto his house again. Butsoon her brothers arein trouble. She knowswho is behind the scenesand that herrelationship withZhao Bing must be resumed.She never tells herbrothers about thisbecause she is fully awareof their inability toprotect her owingto their bad class background.If they try to doanything against ZhaoDing, they can only becompletely ruined.It is also shownin the two novels thatthe peasants attemptstochange their situationprove futile inmost cases. Thereis no way forthe peasants to complainto the higher authoritiesabout the localofficials wrongdoings.In Turbulence,when the Party SecretaryofDongyang county goeson an inspection tour,his car is surroundedbythe peasants whocome to make complaintsto him. The local cadresyell at the peasants anddrive them away.One old man lies underthe wheels to stop theParty Secretarys carfrom moving away; thecadres haul him off theroad. The Party Secretaryis very upsetabout this and complainsto Jin’gou that the peasantsare too cunningand tough. (203) The roadfor the young peasantsto move up in thesocial hierarchy is almostalways closed. The localpower holdersdeny all opportunity tothe children of ordinarypeasants. Jingouhas to fight very hardto get the position of reporter,although he isthe only qualified applicantin the whole township.The Party18Secretary Tian Zhongzhengtakes these positionsas his personalassets and wantsto give them as presentsto his relatives,despitetheir completeinability to write.It sounds ridiculous,but this kindof behaviour is verycommon among corruptrural officials.In thereform years, it is truethat some peasantshave risen financiallyandsocially, but for bothsubjective and objectivereasons, thesepeasants newstatus is very unstable.(I will discuss this in ChapterThree.) Many of them come totragic ends. Both TurbulenceandI.h..Old Boat create imagesof peasant entrepreneurs.Their stories arequite typical in present-dayChina.The theme of exposingrural injusticeis nothing new. Infact,this is a recurrenttheme in modernChinese literature.Since thesituation of the peasantshas not changed, thistheme will continuetoappear in Chineseliterary works. Indealing with this theme,it isalso the tradition ofmodern Chinese literatureto depict the peasantsas victims of the ruralgentry, corrupt officialsand above all, a badsocial system. Turbulencein general carries on thistradition, andthe narrator unmistakablypoints his accusingfinger at the corruptCommunist bureaucracy.Most modern Chineseliterary works dealingwith this themealso carry a clear messagethat in order to liberatethemselves, thepeasants should fight ruthlesslyagainst their oppressors,and that indoing so violence is unavoidable.Even mature and sophisticatedwriters like Mao Dunand Wu Zuxiang also favorviolent strugglesagainst the oppressors,not to mention the ultra-left writerssuch as19Jiang Guangci. Thistendency of resortingto violence to correctsocialinjustice can be tracedback to pre-modernChinese literature.Thefamous classic novelOutlaws of the Marsh(Shuihuzhuan) is wellknown for its tendencyto promote violence.Turbulence basicallyfollows this track. TianZhongzheng triesto rape Xiaoshui, soLeiDakong chops off oneof Tians toes to teachhim a lesson. This actionis accepted and evenpraised by the other peasants,including theeducated protagonistJingou. Xiaoshuisuncle Han Wenju throwsthechopped-off toeto a dog and later regretsthis only becausein doingso he has lost theevidence. (Tian triesnot to mention his attempttorape Xiaoshui; sohe accuses Lei Dakongof beating him andsmashinghis toe in the field. Xiaoshuineeds the chopped-offtoe to prove thatTian is lying.) Theovertone in the narrationabout this episodeis itserves him(Tian) right”.The Old Boat, however,breaks away to agreat extent from theabove-mentioned tradition,and has an importanttheme which isabsent in Turbulence.It questions the meaningof the strugglebetween the rich andthe poor. And when exploringthe source ofthe peasants suffering,it is not satisfied with thesimple politicalanswer, but goes deeperto seek an answerin the dark side of humannature. The Old Boat alsotakes a negative attitudetowards violence,including the violenceagainst the oppressors.These ideologicalbreakthroughs have beenhighly acclaimed by theChinese critics.Through the recollectionsof both the narrator andtheprotagonist Sui Baopu,The Old Boat describesin detail the bloody20fighting betweenthe rural gentry and thepoor peasants led bytheCommunists during theLand Reform. This classstruggle causesnumberless tragedies onboth sides. Finally,the peasants win thestruggle. Theybeat the landlords, killthem, distribute theirland,and rush into theirhouses to grab the “fruitsof victory (shengliguoshi, a term commonlyused in the LandReform to refer tothelandlords property).The peasants take greatsatisfation in theseactivities, which remindsone of Ah Qshigh spirit when talkingaboutthe revolution’.The power switchesinto the hands of somepeoplewho were once at thebottom of society. Thiswas the dream ofmany modern Chinesewriters. But whenthis dream came true,thegreat majority ofthe peasants did not achievethe better life theyexpected. The new rulersturned out to be asgreedy and cruel astheir defeated predecessors.The Old Boat uses a lotof space todescribe how Zhao Bing,Zhao Duoduo and otherpower holderscruelly oppress the peoplein Walizhen. The only differenceis thatthe former gentry andtheir families havetraded places with someofthe oppressed peasants.For most people, the strugglethey havegone through has not donethem any good and thus provesto be atragic mistake. Now ifthey fight the new oppressorsin the same oldway, history will repeatitself. The peasants’ situationwont improvein general.This is the conclusion reachedby the protagonist Baopu afterexperiencing and witnessingthe fighting going on throughfortyyears. In The Old boat, Baopuhas a long talk with his brotherJiansu, who is very anxiousto fight Zhao Duoduo and get the fensi21business backinto the handsof the Sui family. Baoputells him astory about agroup of people lookingfor gold in themountains. Oneof them seesa big piece of gold anddoes not want toshare it withthe others. So therest of the grouphave to stone himto death.Baopu said to Jiansu:Ithought there wouldnot be so much sufferingand blood any more.But later, I realizedthis is only a dream,because there arestill people like youin our town. You arenot theonly one. How can thepeople get rid ofthe suffering? Aperson likeyou will put his arms aroundthe gold and wontshare it with theothers. Then therewill be someone todrop the stone on youandyou will bite back. Thusthere will be bloodagain.’2 Obviously,Baopu views thegreedy element in humannature as the sourceofhuman suffering. Thisis also the voice of theimplied author.In The Old Boat, thereare many descriptionsof violence. Mostmodern Chinese literaryworks only deal withthe violence imposedon the oppressed peasantsby the gentry andbad officials. Eventhose writers who advocateviolent class struggle usuallyavoiddescribing in detail theviolence used by thepeasants. One thingquite unique in The OldBoat is that it exploresthe violence used byboth sides in the ‘class struggle’.In the Land Reform, thelandlords’“return home corps’ buriesforty poor peasants aliveafter stringingthem together with aniron wire going throughtheir collar bones.Among the victims areold people and babies. Thepeasants, in theirturn, literally cut a piece offlesh off a landlord’s bodywhen12The Old Boat , Dan2dai no.5, 1986:86.Page numbers are given subsequentlyin the text.22struggling against him. Morethan a dozen return homecorps”members rape a peasantwoman cadre before killingher and herbaby. Soon after that,a group of peasant militiamenrapes alandlords young daughter.She dies the nextday. The peasantstieher body to a treeand sexually mutilateit. The then seven-year-oldprotagonist is so badlyshocked by this horriblescene that it hauntshim for the rest ofhis life. Twenty years later,when he buries hiswife after she starvesto death, the protagonistkeeps digging anddigging, trying to buryher as deep in theearth as possible. Thedescriptions of violencein The Old Boat arevery real and sometimeshighly detailed; thusthey often leave anunforgettable impressiononthe readers mind.All these descriptionsserve one purpose:to laybare the extreme uglinessof violence; thus tobring the readersattention to the necessityof fighting against it.Sui Baopu does a lotof thinking in The OldBoat, trying to findout the source of thepeasants suffering.But when he gets theanswer, it does not leadto any solution. Onthe contrary, he findshimself in a more hopelessimpasse. His agony is alsothe agony ofLu Xun. It is relativelyeasy to kill a tyrant, to overthrowa politicalpower or to change a socialsystem, but it is extremelydifficult tochange the nationalcharacter and almost impossibleto get rid of theevil elements in human nature.Baopu feels lost and does notknowwhat action he should taketo improve this world. The impliedauthor is critical of Baopuslack of action, but he is at thesame timevery sympathetic with him, for hecan not see the way out either.This problem, however, isdealt with in Turbulence,I will return to23this topic laterin this chapter andalso in Chapter Three.In terms ofthematic achievements,The Old Boat andTurbulence to a certainextent complementeach other . That isone of the reasonswhy theyare often discussedtogether.The second major themecommon to Turbulenceand The OldBoat is the pro-reformtheme. In the1980s, writing aboutreformsbecame a fashion inChinese literary circles.And almost all worksthat addressthe reform theme takea pro-reform attitude.Some ofthese works are producedmerely to respondto the changesin Partypolicies; so they canonly be regarded as propagandamaterials.Some other workswere written seriously,and because they touchedcertain sensitive socialissues, or they wentahead of the Partysreform steps, theseworks once createdsome social sensations.Atypical instanceis Jiang ZilongsManager Qiao AssumesOffice (Qiaochangzhang shangrenjj).l3However, theseworks share a commonsymptom of beingoverly simplistic.They generallygive the ideathat Chinas problemswill be solvedby the implementationofcertain new policies,which can be completelycompatible withthesocialist system andMarxist theory.The plots and charactersofthese works arealso stereotyped. Theprotagonists are alwaysopen-minded cadres withgood abilities and honestpersonalities.Theywill be in trouble withtheir conservativecolleagues and superiors,but have the full supportof even higher superiors.Their reformist13For an English translation,see Lee Yee ed. The New Realism--Writing fromChina after Cultural Revolution,New York: HippocreneBooks Inc., 1983:56-85.24measures prove tobe effective and theyare welcomed by themajority of the ordinarypeople.The pro-reform overtoneis very obviousin Turbulence and TheOld Boat. It is intimatelyrelated to the firsttheme we discussedabove and is based onthe authors concerns withthe fate of bothindividual Chineseand China as a nation.The basic idea is thatthings in China cant goon like this; changesare necessary andurgent. So when we saythese works are pro-reform,here theconcept of reformmeans much more thanits official definition.Indealing with the themeof reform, Turbulenceand The Old Boat notonly have gone beyondthe scope of political andeconomic reformsenvisioned by theCommunist Party CentralCommittee, but alsohavereached a depth thatcould be frowned on bythe Communistauthorities. Whencommenting on theworks published in modernChina, one has totake the politicalclimate and the limit ofthewriters freedomof speech into consideration.Blaming the writersideological conservativenesstoo much is often notfair. Comparedwith other works, thetwo novels have also brokenaway from theready model of reformliterature and showedartistic sophistication.They are especially successfulon two points.First, the two works havesuccessfully broughtout the truemental state of the Chinesepeople in the reform years,that is , themood of fuzao’.(Here the Chineseword fuzao does not seemtohave an English equivalent.The word turbulencecan hardly coverall its meanings. It isa mixture of impetuosity, restlessness,25imprudence and perplexity.In this thesis sometimesI will use theChinese word fuzaoinstead of turbulencefor the sake ofaccuracy.)In the preface to Turbulence,Jia Pingwa talks aboutthe PrefecturalRiver, which is apparentlya symbol of Shangzhouin Shanxi Provinceor even all of China: Turbulenceis not the virtue of thePrefecturalRiver, but it is theunique characteristicof this river ThePrefectural River is onlya part of the upper reachesof a big river. Ithas a long way togo to the Yangzi Riverand finally to the Sea.It willget deeper and strongerwhile flowing throughthe land. (Preface,page 2). This statementhas been criticizedfor being too idealistic.14But if we interpret itas the idea that thereis more hope in aturbulent river than instagnant water, itwill be exactly thebasictone of these workswhen dealing with thereform theme.In thesetwo works, thefuzao mood is presentedmainly through the actionsand psychologyof the educated peasants,the peasantentrepreneurs andalso some other characters.The protagonistsof these two novels,Baopu and Jingou,areeducated peasants.Actually they have thecharacteristics ofbothpeasants and intellectuals.Compared with other peasants,they tendto do more thinking. Underthe Maoist control, thewhole nationcould only haveone thought-- Mao Zedongthought. Independentthinking was actuallynot allowed. With Maosdeath and theconclusion of the Maoistera, the Communist Partysideologicalcontrol has been to a considerabledegree relaxed. If peoples14See Liu Huo, On Jingou[Jin’gou lun], Dan2dai zuojiapinglun no.4(1 989):67-77.26freedom is still limitedin speech and actions,they at least havetheright to think. As educatedyoung peasants facingmany social andindividual problems, theprotagonists try veryhard to seek a wayout for both themselvesand their fellow peasants.But the more they think,the more they feelanxious andperplexed. One reasonis their lack of modernknowledge. Baooualways sticks to twobooks: Questions to Heaven(Tian wen) and TheCommunist Party Menifesto.Jingou is a high schoolgraduate, but hereceives his educationin the Cultural Revolutionand after that hecan hardly find timeto do serious reading.Another reason is thatthe problems they attemptto explore are too big and complicated.These problems havehaunted Chinese intellectualsfor generations.Some of the problemshave even agonizedthe worlds greatestthinkers.Another indication ofthe fuzao mood isthe protagonists lack ofa stable mind. Theyare always pushed bythe events happeningaround them and emotionallyaffected by those peoplewho areinferior to them in termsof morality and education.In The Old Boat,Sui Baopu expresses morethan once his admirationto his brotherJiansu for his daring spirit,although at the sametime he is stronglyopposed to Jiansus venture.Finally he decides to take overthe fensibusiness in fear thatit will drop into the hands of somegreedyperson like Zhao Duoduo.Although the people in Walizhenhave laidtheir hopes on him, becauseof his personality and moral values,he isunlikely to be a good entrepreneur.Therefore this action canbe27regarded as anotherindication of hisfuzao. In Turbulence,afterJingou is exposedto Lei Dakongs large-scalebribery, he cannot helpadmiring Lei Dakongsadventurous spirit.He knows very wellthenature of Leis behaviour,but he still thinksthat in the presentsituation, only peoplelike Dakong can dosomething.The emergence ofthe peasant entrepreneuris one of the mostcontroversial phenomenain China duringthe reform years.LeiDakong in Turbulence,Sui Jiansu and ZhaoDuoduo in The Old Boatare all so-calledpeasant entrepreneurs.In fact, this title itselfisthe result of the fuzaomood in todaysChina. It gives one animpression that the gapbetween a peasantand an entrepreneurcanvanish in one night. Onthe one hand, these peasantsdare to defythe gap betweenthe countrysideand the city, or betweenpeasantsand cadres. Theyseize the opportunityto rise rapidly in thesocialhierarchy. Their struggleto change their fateis of great significance.On the other hand, theyare completely unqualifiedfor the role of amodern entrepreneur.The three peasantentrepreneurs” inthesetwo novels all rely onbribery and cheating.Their businessesarelittle more than castlesin the air.(Zhao Duoduos fensi factoryis alittle different, but isstill not managed normally).They also tend tooverestimate theirown ability. They oftenthink that theyhaveused the corruptcadres, but finally findout that they are usedbythe officials. Noneof the peasant entrepreneursin these two workscan avoid meetinga tragic end. It is not thatthey are not awareofthe risky natureof their career. Lei Dakongslife philosophy is quitetypical: I know that I amwalking on the edgeof a knife. One slip28and I will befinished. But I dontcare. I have neitherwife norchildren. I havenothing to worryabout when I die.(321) Hebelieves that Thedaring man hasa full stomach; the cowardstarves.”(3 11) The rapid rise and fall of the“peasant entrepreneursare manifestationsof the fuzao moodin the reform years.These two worksalso show that the fuzaomood is spreadingamong the ordinarypeasants. In Turbulence,the ferryman HanWenju says that Jin’gouhas stirred the heartsof the young people.It is true. The youngvillagers have been encouragedby Jingoussuccess in the river transportbusiness and alltry to improve theirfinancial conditionby risking their liveson the Prefectural River.The peasants ofthe old generation cannot calm down either.HanWenju is alwaysworried that the Partysreform policies mightchange. Jingousfather, the honest buttimid painter, is reluctantlypushed into thestruggles. In The Old Boat,the young peasants ofWalizhen put on jeans,dance disco andbecome crazy aboutforeignmovies. They are veryeager to accept indiscriminatelyeverythingnew from the outsideworld.Another success of thesetwo works in dealing withthe reformtheme is the profundityand insight displayedin their exploration ofsocial problems. Otherreform literature worksalso explore socialproblems, but most of themjust stick to minorproblems such ashiring practices or managementstyle. And when dealingwith theseproblems, they tend toprovide a ready-made solution.Turbulenceand The Old Boat have brokenthis convention. In The OldBoat the29search for the sourceof human sufferingis, as we have mentionedabove, well recognizedby the critics as havingreached a new depth.Baopu realizes thatthe evils in humannature are the rootof all theproblems, so hepins his hopes on moralimprovement. Hehas toadmit that thisidea is hardly practicalbut he cannot see anyotherway out.In this respect, Turbulencehas made some breakthroughs.Turbulence alsopays much attentionto the negative sideof humannature. But unlikeThe Old Boat, it recognizethe position ofhumandesires. instead ofattempting to changehuman nature, thenovelemphasizes controllingand using the evilsin human nature.In myview, the conflictsbetween the Gong cadresand the Tian Cadresaredeliberately designedby the author. Almostall of Jingoussuccessful fights againstthe corrupt bureaucracyare accomplishedby using those conflicts.Readers can hardlymiss this message.Inaddition, when Jingouis the head of the rivertransport team, heknows that the othertwo team heads TianYishen and Cai Daanareboth greedy persons.Instead of fightingto expelling them, whichisimpractical, Jingoudeliberately keeps thesetwo men in conflict.So,in order to defend theirown interests, TianYishen and Cai Daanwatch each other and exposeeach others wrongdoings.This strategyworks very well. Ithink we have reason tosuggest that the authoris implying a possible approachto cope with the evilsof humannature--to establisha system in which the personsin power canwatch each other(albeit for their own interests), thusto preventthem from abusing their power.This is a sensitive political issue,for30it can lead to the ideaof a multi-party system.So the message canonly be conveyedobscurely. To date I havenot seen any criticalarticle publishedin China that mentionsthis message in Turbulence.This is probably for politicalreasons.The third common themeof these two worksis an impliedacceptance of determinism.In Turbulence and TheOld Boat, anotable phenomenonis the recurrence of episodesconcerningpredictions. These predictionsare made in three ways.The firstway is through some specialfigures. Some of themhavesupernatural power toforesee the future.In Turbulence, suchaperson is the monk, andtowards the end of thenovel, also thegeomancer (yingyangshi).The monk is frequentlyconsulted by thevillagers about thingshappening in their lives.After Jingou isarrested, Xiaoshui goesto the monk to ask aboutJingous future. Themonk analyzes a Chinesecharacter jjj.j(return), which Xiaoshui haspicked up randomly. Themonk predicts that notonly will Jingoucome home safe but alsohe will have a sonsoon. When Xiaoshuimentions the fact thatJingou is not even marriedand expresses herdoubt about the prediction,the monk says:Imyself am confused bythis, but it is what this charactermeans. This episodeshows thatthe monk can only tell whatis predestined and has no controlover it.At the end of this novel, Xiaoshuigoes to the monk againto askabout the result of Jingousplan to buy a new motor boat.The monkis not home, but he has foreseenher coming and has lefta messageto recommend her to the geomancerin anothor village. WhenXiaoshui gets there, the geomancer,who is very popular in thisarea,31says in this casehe has to consultthe “three veterans--MaoZedong,Zhou Enlai andZhu De-- instead of the usualdeities. We can seehowpowerful the imagesof the former Communists leadersare in theminds of the ordinarypeople. They even believethat after theCommunist leadersdie they still havethe power to controlthepeoples lives. Afterconsulting the threeveterans, the geomancertells Xiaoshui thatJingous business hasearned the approvalof theformer leaders.In The Old Boat, the personwith supernatural powerto foreseethe future is ZhangWang Shi. One interestingthing in The Old Boatisthat the narratordoes not tell what theprediction really is.Only thereaction of the charactersconcerning theprediction gives thereadersa clue to its content.This helps to createa more mysteriousatmosphere. Beforethe Land Reform,Zhang Wang Shi goestoborrow some moneyfrom Sui Yingzhi.She offers to tell hisfortunein return. Suiswife Huizi is froma very wealthy family ina largecity and hasa very strong senseof superiority.She does not believeZhang Wang Shi, thinkingthat she is just swindlingher husband outof his money. But whenZhang Wang Shi saysthat Sui Yingzhi musthave two moleson his left shoulder,Huizi, who is eatingher dinner,drops her soup spoonin shock. After Sui Yingzhitells Zhang WangShi his eight characters’(birth date and time), she runsawayinstead of telling himthe result. The readercan infer from heraction that she has seen somethingreally terrible. Sui Yingzhitriesevery way he can toavoid a tragic end. He turnsin almost all of thefamily’s property to thenew Communist authorities,but he still dies32a miserable death.Huizi has to believe ZhangWang Shis powerandone day she herselfgoes to Zhang WangShis place. When sheisback, she does notmention anythingabout Zhang Wang Shisprediction. Later, as thesituation gets pressing, shecommits suicideto avoid furtherhumiliation. But in the lastmoment of her life, sheis still insulted byZhao DuoduoAnother person inThe Old Boat who can predictthe future isGrandpa Four ZhaoBing. In the novel,Zhao Bing is the embodimentof all evils. But he is nota simple evil person likeZhao Duoduo. Hehas a very good knowledgeof Chinese culture andalso a keen insightinto matters. Zhao Bing oftentalks about the end(jieguo). ZhaoDuoduo is his favouritehenchman, but hepredicts that Zhao Duoduowill not have a goodend because he has brokenthe rule (guiju)andwhat he has done is“too much. Zhao Duoduofinally dies a terribledeath. Zhao Bing alsopredicts his own end:his relationship withHanzhang will finallycause Hanzhang to killhim. Powerful ashe is,he can not avoid this end.When Hanzhang tellshim that she willnot come again, he replies:Iknow what you are talkingabout. Thismatter is going to have anend soon.” Hanzhang,shivering at hisremarks, asks him whatthe end refers to. He answerscalmly:“Your killing me.”Then he continues,I can notavoid this end.Sooner or later, it will come.I was waiting for you.Before you cameI thought I was lucky: you hadmade up your mindnot to comeagain; you would let me go.But I heard the door and youare hereagain. Now I have realized thatit is unavoidable. To Hanzhang,theend is also unavoidable. She hasno choice. Although the idea of33killing Zhao Binghas been hauntingher since the first nightheviolated her, shehas never had the courageto make this decisionatthe conscious level.Towards the end ofthe novel, she decidestohang herself instead ofkilling Zhao Bing. Shetries to get a rope,butpulls out the scissorsat the same time. Shedoes not rememberputting them together.Still, she closes hereyes to reach therope,but can not help grabbingthe two thingstogether. She hasnofreedom to makea choice. She has togo and kill Zhao Bing.Other kinds of predictionsare made throughdreams. InTurbulence, whenthe ferryman HanWenju is taking anap in hisferryboat, he seestwo dogs talking onthe bank, which inChinesetradition can beinterpreted as symbolizinga Chinese characteryue(jail). Soon Lei Dakongis arrested for choppingoff Tian Zhongzhengstoe. If in this case onecan argue that Han Wenjusworry aboutDakong and Fuyun.plus his knowledgeof traditional Chinesefiction,may have some impacton this dream, then Jingousdream aboutXiaoshui is simplyan omen. Jingou dreamsof Xiaoshui in mourning.This kind of ideahas never happened tohim before. He thinksaboutthis dream again and againbut can not understandwhat it canpossibly mean. Laterit proves to be anomen of Fuyuns deathwhichleaves Xiaoshui a widow.The third way to makepredictions is through somemysteriousevents. In Turbulence, thefloods of the PrefecturalRiver are alwaysomens of some great eventsin the life of the peoplein this area. InThe Old Boat, the missing ofa lead tube containing a grainof radium34has cast a shadow overWalizhens future.This tube will causesomeincurable diseases ordeformed infants.The people in Walizhentryevery way possibleto search for it, but all theirefforts are in vain.Even the usingof a Geiger counter--a symbol of modern technology-- can not help. Thismysterious incidentworries the peasants,butthe peasants can notdo anything aboutit. It is out of theircontrol.The theme of determinismwas forbidden inChina during theMaoist years. TheCommunist power holdersbelieved that they werestrong enough to controlany force(human, natural or supernatural)in the universe. Undertheir influence,the whole nation wasunrealistically optimistic.This trend reacheda peak in the GreatLeap Forward and againin the Cultural Revolution.The morecourage men have, themore grain the landhas to yield and whenwe oil workers are yelling,the earth cannothelp shaking are typicalmottoes of thosetimes. This confidencein mens ability tocontroltheir life subsided atthe end of the CulturalRevolution. Afterexperiencing ten yearsof bloody struggle, theChinese peoplewitnessed a turbulentyear of 1976, whenthe earth literallyshook inTangshan, the highestCommunist leadersdied one after another,andthe gang of four fell overnight.Things seemed really beyondmenscontrol. A feeling ofpowerlessness beganto spring up quietlyamongthe ordinary people.It continued to growin the reform years.When the country openedits doors, the Chinesepeople were exposedto a highly advancedworld. They realizedhow ridiculous theirformer megalomanic attitudewas. To solve China’sproblems, reformseems to be the only solution,but the people alsosee too many35barriers in theirway. Writers, asthe most sensitive and sentimentalgroup in the society,started to expresstheir feeling of frustrationintheir works. Aroundthe middle of the 1980s,the message of fatalismand determinism emergedin Chinese literature.This kind ofmessage is, however,not welcomedby the authorities.In China, thewriters have to takethe authorities attitudeinto consideration.As aresult, in Turbulenceand The Old Boat,this theme ofdeterminism isnot as clearly presentedas the other majorthemes. Also, the ideaofdeterminism is quitegeneral. The novelsonly imply that human lifeis governed by certaininexorable lawsof cause and effect.People donot have much freedomin making choices.The two works havenotspecified thepossible determiningforce. It couldbe fate, Gods will,the action of naturallaw, or the operationof various detailsin dailylife.Because the presentationof the message of determinismisquite obscure in thesenovels. The episodesof predictions discussedabove could be interpretedas only reflectionsof rural religious life.Jia Pingwa and ZhangWei are well-recognizedNativist writers.They both have writtenabout the religiouscustoms and practicesinrural China. For instance,in Turbulence the boatmenworship asnake as the river god; inThe Old Boat, the peasantsseriouslyperform the funeralrites. However,thesereligious customsdo notaffect the fate of the characters,while the mysteriouspredictions wediscussed above alwaysprove true in the characterslife, and thereis no indication in the narrationthat this is merely the resultofcoincidence; so I believethat these episodes of predictionsare not36only the presentationof the peasantsreligious life, butalsoimportant thematicelements. It may alsobe argued that theseepisodes arebut narrative techniquesused for the purposeof givingclues to the plot developmentor creating a mysteriousatmosphere.But there aremany techniques thatcan serve this purpose.We cannot say that the reasonwhy the writerschoose to usethesemysterious predictionshas nothingto do with their ideologicalattitude.Turbulence andThe Old Boat areworks set in the Chinesecountryside, buttheir thematic significancehas gone beyond rurallife. This is probablybecause of the peasantsimportant positioninChina. China is an agriculturalcountry, a greatmajority of itspopulation are peasants.The urban inhabitantsare basically expeasants or their secondand third generations.A more importantfact which affects thesituation in present-dayChina is that Chinasaged ruling circleis generally of peasantorigin and the PLAiscomposed of peasantssons. In 1989,a symposium was heldinGansu to discussthe problemsconcerning peasantsin both real lifeand literature. Thescholars and criticsattending the meetingcalledthe peasants the Grandpain China; and to emphasizethe influenceof peasant consciousnessin China, they alsopointed out that in abroad sense, peasantscan include any personwith peasantsideas.15 In modernChinese literature,works about peasantsandrural life have mademore achievementsthan those addressing other15Wenxuebao, January5,1989: 1.37subject matters.In the next two chaptersI will analyze aseries ofpeasant characterscreated in Turbulenceand The Old Boat, andfurther examine thethematic significanceshown by these characters.38CHAPTER THREETHE CHARACTERS,IAlthough peasantsplay important rolesin Chinese society, theydid not appear as maincharacters in Chinesefiction until the MayFourth era. Since thenpeasants, as wellas intellectuals, have becomethe most importantimages in Chinese literature.The peasant imagesin modern Chinese literaturepossess both positive andnegativetraits. In general, onthe positive side,they are honest, simple,diligent and tenacious;on the negative side,they are narrow-minded, selfish, cowardly,rude, sometimes evencruel. Mostmodern Chinese writersemphasize the positiveside in the characterof Chinese peasants.Because of the Chinesepeasants plight, modernChinese writers usuallyhave too much feeling forthem to disclosetheir negative side.Only great writers likeLu Xun probed with trueinsight into the negativeside of Chinese peasantscharacter. Duringthe Maoist years, writingabout the peasants badtraits was a riskyjob. If some writers had to dealwith this subject, theywould displaysome bad traits in peasantcharacters with the class statusof middlepeasant (zhongnong). Towrite about a poor peasant(pinnong)with serious shortcomings wasnot allowed, not to mention creatingthe image of a poor peasant asthe embodiment of peasant vileness.It is in the post-Mao erathat the writers are able to explore ata39deeper level thenegative side of Chinesepeasants characterandpresent it in theirworks. In this respect,we can say thatTurbulenceand The Old Boatare both very successful.Turbulence and TheOld Boat createa gallery of interestingcharacters, ranging fromhigh officials of peasantorigin to ordinarypoor peasants. It isthe stories of thesecharacters that make thenovels so readable.In certain aspects thetwo works makeimportant breakthroughs.In this chapter, I will discusstheprotagonists in Turbulenceand The Old Boat.Jin’gou and Baopuare the respective protagonistsof these twonovels. Both charactershave received muchcritical attention inChina. It seems to methat the critics interestin Baopu is to a greatdegree due to the ideologicalideas representedby this character. Asa literary image Jingouis more successfullyportrayed than Baopu.Therefore, in the followingdiscussion on thesetwo characters, I willcentre on Jingou anddiscuss Baopumainly in comparisonwithJingou.Jingou and Baopu areboth educated peasants.Jingou is a highschool graduate. This is quitea high level of educationfor a peasantboy. Baopu receives an earlyeducation before theCommunists takepower and continues tostudy by himself during theMaoist years.He has a very good readingability and can alsowrite very well. Atthe end of the novel he writeswithout difficulty a verylongstatement to submitto the court. The image of educatedpeasants is40absent in May Fourthliterature, but can befound in the post-1949fictional works. However,educated peasantsas heroes of literaryworks did not appearuntil the post-Maoera. In Maoist literatureeducated young peasantsare always describedas vulnerable to theattack of the consciousnessof the exploitingclass. They are alwaysin the danger of losingtheir good peasantqualities or classconsciousness.Their urgent needis to receive a class education”from the Communist partyand the poor and lowermiddle peasants(pinxiazhongnong). Theknowledge theyhave received in schoolisoften viewed as impractical.It is only under the guidanceof theParty and the poorand lower middlepeasants that they canmakea limited use of thisknowledge. In short,they are far from idealyoung peasants.In Maoist literature, oneimportant andcommonthing in the backgroundsof ideal youngpeasants is experiencein thearmy. Educationis not important.In the post-Mao era,with thechange in the wholenations attitudetowards educationand culture,the position of educatedpeasants has beenrecognized in Chineseliterature. Famous post-Maoworks like Zheng YisThe Old Well(Laojing) and Lu Yaos Life(Rensheng) all have educatedyoung peasantsas protagonists.In Turbulence and TheOld Boat, it is very clearthat theeducated young peasantsBaopu and Jingouare the heroes. Theyenjoy a very high reputationamong the peasants.The latter viewthem as their hope andtheir leaders. In Turbulence,the peasantsadmire Jingou so muchthat they even believethat Jingou is not anordinary human beingbut the reincarnationof a mysterious bird41named kanshan2ou.Because of Jingou thepeasants start toworshipthe bird and its pricegoes up rapidly inthe market. In TheOld Boat,the peasants also takeit for grantedthat Baopu should bethe leaderof the townsfensi business, its principalindustry. Even thenegativecharacters in the twonovels have to admitthe strength of theheroes. In Turbulence,Tian Zhongzhengoften teaches hisrelativesand henchmen thatthey should not neglectthe influence ofJingouon the villagers. Inturn, Tian himself iswarned in the sameway byhis superior Tian Youshan,the county PartySecretary. In TheOldBoat, even ZhaoDuoduo. the rudeand cruel enemy ofthe Sui familynever dares to neglectSui Baopu. To attachsuch importance totheeducated-peasantheroes is somethingnot very often seenin modernChinese literature.Baopu and Jingouare not only heroes inthe eyes of thepeasants but areobviously also idealpeasants in the impliedauthors view. However,the protagonists are notperfect in terms ofpersonal qualities.We say they are idealpeasants because theyrepresent the highestlevel ever reachedby the peasants; we saythey are not perfect becausethey are presentednot as the simpleembodiment of certainideals but as flesh-and-bloodhuman beings,and no human beingis perfect. In fact the authorshave done theirbest to create the protagonistsas three-dimensional characters.16The two works, especiallyTurbulence, successfullybring out various16I do not agree with the criticism madein the Book Review in the NewYorkTimes (September 22,1991), in which the critic evalutes the charactersinTurbulence asmerely two-dimensionalfigures”42aspects in the heroespersonalities andthe conflicts in theirtemperaments.Although the heroesof the two novels havemany things incommon, such as theireducational level andtheir obsessive concernswith the situation of Chinesepeasants, they are apparentlyofdifferent temperaments.A comparison betweentheir characterswillmake clear the success andfailure of these worksin creating theprotagonists.One important characteristicin Jingous personalityis hisambition and pride.In the Maoist years,individual ambitionis anunacceptable qualityand can not be foundin the heroes of theliterary works. Evenin the post-Maoera, a lot of writers stillhesitate in describingtheir heroes individualambitions. But inTurbulence, the narratorshows Jingous ambitionin a completelypositive light and showsthat Jingous individualambition iscombined with hisambition to improve thepeasants lives.In the beginning ofthe novel, the narratortells about thehistory of Jingousfamily, which implies someinherent reason forJingous ambition and pride.Although Jingous fatheris a timidpainter, Jingous grandfatherwas the leader of a rebellionofboatmen and was killedby the authorities. Jingousstrongcompetitive streak has beenwith him since childhood.On one NewYears eve, the Gong andTian households all hang large lanternsatthe doors of their houses.Jingou and Xiaoshui, then bothsmall43children , are sitting ina boat watching the lanterns.Xiaoshuiadmires the lanterns ofthe Gong and theTian houses. Jingou isnotwilling to give up. Hegoes home and, with thepaper his father hasbought to put onthe windows, he makesa large lantern. Thenhegoes to the Gong andTian houses to competewith the children there.His lantern is very good.As he yells excitedlyover his victory, hisfather comes overto stop him. The painter doesnot like his son to beso wild as to competewith the Tian and theGong families. ButJingou wont listen; hisfather gets angry andgives him a slapin theface. This happens inthe presence of the Gongand the Tian childrenand badly wounds Jingouspride. For this he hateshis father andeven refuses toaccept the New Year giftmoney from him. Inthisepisode Jingous personalityis put in sharp contrastwith his fathers.The painter is a typicalobedient peasantwho has accepted his placeat the bottom of society.but Jingou dares to competewith thoseabove him and has theconfidence to win.Jingou has a strong desireto get a better lifethan that of thepeasants like hisown father. Andto achieve his goal he fearsnothingin the world. When heis only a child, he wantsto go down thePrefectural River withthe boatmen to start arisky but profitablecareer, but his fatherstops him from doing so.When he is grown up,he goes to join the army,not for the purpose ofdefending hiscountry (always the heroesmotivation for joining thearmy inMaoist fiction), but forthe purpose of getting outof the countrysideand having a better life. Hewishes there were a war sohe couldhave a chance for fastpromotion--he is not afraid of death.But44there is no warat that time; so heplans to apply to themilitarycollege, hoping that aftergraduation he can becomea PLA officer.Just then he is demobilizedand has to returnto the countryside.Atthat time, the climatein rural China is conduciveto money-making;so Jingou startsa river transport business.As a peasants son, Jin’gouclosely combineshis individualambition with his ambitionto improve the peasantslives. When hisriver transport businessis booming. the townshipParty SecretaryTian Zhongzheng suggestsreorganizingit into a transport team.Jingou agrees to thissuggestion out of theconsideration thatthis willhelp the other peasantsmake more money.When Jin’gou learnsthatthere is an opportunityto become a reporter.he is excited andveryeager to go. The reasonis twofold: on one hand,journalism is averyrespectable occupationin China and is a wayfor a country boysambitious dream tocome true; onthe other hand, sincea reporterhas the ability to gethis articles publishedin the newspaper andoften has access tothe higher officials,he can speak for thepeasantswhose voice isalways neglected inChina.Intimately relatedto Jingous ambitionsis his pride as apeasants son. Hisreaction to insults abouthis family background isunforgettable to thereader. Jingous fatheris a painter. In theShangzhou area thepainters have a very lowsocial status. They liketo moisten the paint penon their mouths, so theirmouths look funnywhen they are working.People like to laugh at them.On twooccasions Jingou loses histemper over disrespectful attitudes45towards painters.One time he throwsthe paint bowl on thewallwhen the Tianfamily members saysomething insultingabout thepainters. Anothertime he pounces on thedesk and breaksthe desktop glass in angerwhen his mistress Shi Huaspeaks contemptuouslyof painters.Another impressive episodeshowing Jingous peasantpride isin Chapter 12, whenhe first enters the prefecturalcapital to workasa reporter. He asks hisway to the newspaperoffice. The cityresidents laugh at him.At first he blushesin embarrassment; thenhe also laughs andsays in his heart: ‘Youcity residents thinkthatthis city is yours? Butthe man Gong Baoshanwho leads this cityisfrom the countryside.Now I am coming. Youwait and see.’ GongBaoshan is one ofthe Gong officialswhOm Jingou doesnot like at all,but when it comesto the question ofthe dignity of peasants,Jin’goucan not help beingproud of him. Thisepisode is very interestinginrevealing Jingouspeasant psychology.Later, Jingou encountersagroup of city residentsbullying some peasantswho are drivinghorsecarts in the street.Jingou is very angryat this. When he triestointerfere, a man yellsat him and says somethingderogatory. Theyhave a quarrel, whichends up with Jingouhitting the man in theface. When the manthreatens to complainto the newspaper,Jingoulaughs with pride:Ok,when what you writecomes in, I will correctyour wrong charactersfor you.” This revealshis status as a reporterand the city menrun away. Jingou then beratesthe horse cartdrivers:When you cometo the city, come in a dignifiedway. If you46look down upon yourselves,no one here will treatyou like humanbeings.(165)Jingous ambitionand pride as an individualyoung man and asthe son of a peasantmake up the basic motivationof most of hisactions in the novel.The description is sorealistic and themotivation is so convincingthat this character looksvery vivid to us.Compared to Jingou,Baopu has no individual ambitionat all. Healways tries his bestto avoid attractingany attention. One reasonwe can find in thenarration is that Baopualways feels pressurefromthe Communist powerholders like ZhaoBing and Zhao Duoduo,whoconstantly watch himand his family. Ifhe shows any traceofambition, they willnot hesitate to eliminatehim. In the novel,ZhaoDuoduo keeps repeatingone phrase: Do awaywith him (gandiaota),a symbol of the Communistterror during severaldecades.Understandably, Baopuhas to be very careful.In the novel there isa more important reasonfor Baopus lackof ambition. That ishis view of human desirefor power and wealthas the roots of all theevils in the world.This makes him naturallydislike any personalambition. However, Baopuhas a very seriouscommitment to changingthe peasants lives.In his mind the curewill be moral improvement.But he realizes thatto put his idea intopractice, he needs the powerto prevent people fromdoing evilthings and he also needs thepower to promote moral education.Therefore, he is faced witha constant dilemma: to play anactive part47in the world(rushi) or to retire from it(chushi). This is a dilemmawhich has torturedthe Chinese intellectualsfor thousands ofyears.Baopu is tormentedby this dilemma throughoutthe whole novel. Inthis sense, wecan say that the imageof Baopu is more successfulasan intellectualthan as a peasant.Neither Baopu nor theimplied authorrealizes, however,thatBaopu’s ponderingwhether to takeaction or remain inretirement isactually of nogreat significance becausehe wont makea successeven if he decidesto serve the public.He finally makesup his mindto come outof his old mill house andmanage the fensibusiness forthe people in the town.But as I will discussbelow, the resultof thisaction can onlybe a failure. Then hisbest choice couldbe to retirefrom the worldagain. As Confuciussaid thousands ofyears ago, ifhis doctrines madeno way, he would“put to sea on a raft.’17Another noticeablecharacteristic demonstratedin Jingou is hispolitical finesse.Although political gameshave neverstopped goingon in Chinese society,generally it is theChinese literarytradition notto view politicians asideal heroes. Mostliterary works tendtodescribe the heroesas honest and pure.In any case they won’tresortto dishonest politicaltactics. Usually,persistent loyalty andabsolutehonesty are the qualitiesmost celebrated. Thistradition continuesinModern Chinese literatureincluding the post-1949literature. In thepost-Mao literature, imagesof new politicians beganto emerge. Li17Lau, D.C. trans. The Analects,Book V, New York: Penguin Books,1979:76.48Xiangnan in Ke Yunlusfamous work New Star(Xinxing) is acontroversial imageof a politician and he isgenerally well acceptedby Chinese readers.It seems to me that Jingouis a moresuccessfully createdimage of a new politicianthan Li Xiangnan. Thelatter has more repercussionsin China mainly becauseof the T.V.opera based on thenovel. Li Xiangnan, whosefather is a high officialin Beijing, has somepersonal political backgroundto support hisfight with the corruptofficials and his conservativeopponents.Jingou is only the son ofa peasant. His successin fighting thecorrupt bureaucracyis the result of his personalability and politicaltactics.Jingou has a strong senseof justice and is honestto the commonpeople. This is an importantdifference betweenJingou and LeiDakong. But whenJingou is dealing withthe corrupt officialsandother bad persons,he never hesitatesto play political games.Sometimes his tacticscan be viewed as dishonestand even mean.In the first part ofTurbulence, Jingou learnsthat theprefectural newspaperis going to recruit tworeporters from hiscounty, but Tian Zhongzhenghas already decidedto give one positionto his niece Yingyingand the other to hismistress Cuicuis brother.Jingou goes to TianZhongzhengs sister-in-law,who is also havinganaffair with Tian. Jingou deliberatelytells the woman of Tiansrelationship with Cuicuiand adds that Tian intendsto marry Cuicuiand also will help her brotherto become a reporter. Jingouswordsarouse the jealousyof Tians sister-in-law. She then threatensTian49that she will disclose allhis wrongdoingsif he does not breakupwith Cuicui. Tianhas to give up and marryher instead of Cuicui.Cuicui dies in shockand sorrow. Of course,Tian will no longerrecommend her brother, who is too stupid tobe a reporter anyway.So Jingou gets thechance to competefor this position.After Jingou becomesa reporter, he continuesto use his tacticsto get things workingfor him. When he goesto Dongyang County, heneeds the materialswhich can show thetrue situation of thepeasants impoverishedlife. He knows thatit is impossiblefor himto get these materialshonestly. So hetells the Party Secretarythathe needs some concreteinformation to writea report covering thegood situation inthis county. Theofficial is pleased and sayshewill let the peoplein his office give Jingouany materials heneeds.Then Jingou goesto those office clerksand asks for the materialhewants. After heobtains it, ‘Jingouis sort of proud ofhis tactics. Hehas learned how to beatthe unhealthysocial tendency bydishonestmeans. (211)In Fuyuns case, Jingoudeliberately joinshands with theprefectural leader GongBaoshan, whom Jingoudislikes as much ashe hates the Tian officials.Jingou knows the conflictsbetween theGong officials and theTian officials. So he goesto Gong Baoshan andimplies that Fuyun’s caseis a good opportunity forGong to beat theTian officials. Gong Baoshangladly takes up this case.The Tianofficials who are responsiblefor Fuyuns death are punished.So by50helping Gong to beathis political rivalsJin’gou has succeeded inclaiming justicefor Fuyun.After Jin’gou is arrested,the Tian officialsare excited that theyhave eliminateda really tough enemy.Now the Gong andThe Tianofficials both hate Jingouand want him tobe finished. The situationlooks so hopeless thatthe reader can not imaginethis time howJingou can get himselfout of jail. ButJingou is not at his witsend.He makes use of hisrelationship withShi Hua to get himselffreed.Jingou has already brokenup with Shi Hua aftera long affair, partlybecause of his senseof guilt and partlyfor fear that this affairwillsomeday ruin hiscareer. But he knowsShi Hua is still madlyin lovewith him and she willdo anything for hissake. He sends outa noteto Xiaoshui, asking herto contact Shi Hua in theprefectural capital.Jingou knows that ShiHua has connectionsat the provincial leveland she is admiredby some powerful men.At this moment heispractical enoughto neglect the moral issuein this matter. Shi Huagoes to the son ofa high official for help.She agrees to sleep withhim; in return he will askhis father to lookinto Jingous case. AfterJingou is releasedfrom jail, he never triesto contact Shi Hua andhedoes not want to knowhow she managed toget him out. He is fullyaware that therehas to be something untowardinvolved in this case.These things will definitelynot happen to a hero in Maoistliterary works. It takes theauthor a good deal of courageto describeJingou in such a realisticway. However, the novel also showsthatJingou does not do these thingswithout inner conflict. Sometimeshe51blames himselffor being too cunningand tells himself thatcunningis not supposed to bethe quality of’a peasants son. He is constantlyobsessed by the questionwhether he is rightin doing so. When thepeasants are havinga dinner party tocelebrate the correctionofFuyuns case, the ferrymanHan Wenju says in anadmiring tone thathe knows howJingou managed to winthe case: On the onehand,you fight the officials,on the other hand, youtry to please them.”(306) Jingou blushes immediatelyand keeps drinkingwithout aword. He later confessesto Xiaoshui that whatHan Wenju said isright and that ittouches the sore spot inhis heart. He feelshumiliation in playingthese games. It is againsthis will, but whatisinteresting is thatdespite all his inner conflictshe does not stopusing those tactics inpractice. He knowsif he wants to win, he hastoplay political games withthe officials. Jingouis not as naive as SuiBaopu; the latter believesonly moral improvementis the cure forthis dark world.Jingou is more ofa doer, while Baopu ismore of a thinker.Athinker can be concernedonly with the issueof what is right andwhat is wrong.He does not have to be worriedabout whether orhow his belief can beput into practice. Buta doer is different, hehasto consider the resultand he has to win. Forthis purpose sometimeshe has to compromise. Baopumight be a very successfulliteraryimage if he is viewed asan educated peasant thinker,but the authorobviously wants to depicthim as a potential leader whocan somedaylead the peasants out ofthe darkness of their lives.This is amistake.52This mistake is commonin Chinese society. TheChinesetradition always regardedthe scholars as potentialofficials. Thisidea was mainlycaused by the civilservice examinationsystem,which was an importantchannel for the governmentto chooseofficials. The scholarsall expected to assumeoffice someday.If agood scholar failed inthe examination andwas not chosen throughother channels tobe an official, he complained.The scholars oftendidnt seriously examinethemselves to see whetherthey, despitetheir literary talentor academic knowledge,did have the qualitiesfor political careers, suchas skills in dealing withpeople and abilitiesto adapt quickly tochanging circumstances.In Baopus case, hecan become neithera politician nor anentrepreneur. Firstof all he hates to compete.Secondly, he judgeseverything by his moralstandards and hasno tactical skill at all.Despite the strong objectionof Jiansu, Baopu doeshis best to save thespoiled starch in ZhaoDuoduos fensi business,thinking that in doingso he will save the peopleof the whole town from sufferinga greatloss and he can alsosecure fame in thespecialty of this town.Heeven considers thereputation of China,as the fensi produced inWalizhen is popularon the international market.But things do notwork out the way he hopes.Zhao Duoduo takes all theprofits fromthe fensi factory and, ashe gets stronger, he becomesmore arbitrary.He abuses the workers anduses a large amount ofbad quality starchin making fensi, thus destroyingthe reputation of the fensi producedin Walizhen. When Zhao Duoduoslease contract expires, thefensi53factory is open forlease to the people inthe town. It is a goodchance to take it awayfrom Zhao Duoduo.But Baopu considersit isimmoral trying to getthe fensi business backinto the hands oftheSui family. As a result,the fensi business fallsinto the hands ofZhaoDuoduo again.To be fair, we should mentionthat in the novelBaopu doesrealize his mistakes anddecides to takeover the fensi businesstowards the end ofthe novel. But thishas not changed his wayofthinking and doing atall. This is evidentin his attitude towardsHanzhangs case.After Hanzhangis arrested for attemptingto killZhao Bing, Baopugoes to visit Hanzhangin prison and learns ofeverything betweenHanzhang and Zhao Bing.In order to helpHanzhang, Baopu writesa long statement tosubmit to the court.Atfirst this statementincludes the historyof the Sui family for thepastforty years. Onthe advice of Jiansuand other people, Baopuagreesto single out the partconcerning Hanzhangto submit to the court.Hebelieves this can rescueHanzhang, and whathe should do is to waitfor the court topass sentence. Baopulives in a society ruledbycompletely corruptbureaucrats. Thenovel has displayedthis veryclearly through whathas happened in Walizhenand through Jiansu’sexperience in thecity. Zhao Bingssons, who are cadres in thecitieshave come back homeand have required thecourt to punishHanzhang severely andquickly. It is veryunlikely that Baopusstatement will improveHanzhangs fate at all.If Hanzhang had abrother like Jingou, thingsmight be different. We can hardlyimagine that with suchan idealistic and naive attitude,Baopu will be54able to deal withthe complex situationin a business in todaysChina.It is regrettable thatthe novel failsto show this problemandinstead, it demonstratesfull confidence inBaopus future asa“general manager.Another point I will discussis the protagonistsrelationshipswith women. Both Baopuand Jin’gou haveextramarital relationswith women. Baopusrelationship with Xiaokuiis an old fashionedstory. They arelovers, but Xiaokuiis forced to marry someoneelse.Because of Baopusbad class background,he is not in a positiontocompete for Xiaokui.After Xiaokui is married,her husband leaveshome to work ina coal mine. Onenight, Baopu breaksinto Xiaokuishouse from the windowand the two spenda happy night together.Soon Xiaokuis husbanddies in an accidentin the mine. Baopu feelsguilty and afterthis he keeps Xiaokuiat a distance. Baopusrelationship withXiaokui is based ontrue love, althoughit does notconform to the socialnorm. This kindof relationship isnot new inChinese literature.Usually it can be acceptedby the readers eveninpre—modern times.Baopus strong sense ofguilt does not seemwellgrounded. Actually,the death of Xiaokuishusband has nothingto dowith his relationshipwith Xiaokui. If,as some critics havementioned, Baopusestrangement fromXiaokui is due to hisfear ofpersecution fromthe powerful Zhao clan(Xiaokuis natal clan), itwould be more reasonable.But unfortunately,the narration showsthat it is Baopus moralconsideration that accountsmore for hisdeserting Xiaokui. Baopu’shesitation not only destroyshis life, but55also makes Xiaokuimiserable. Theimplied author holdsa criticalattitude towards his behaviour,but it is not strong enough.Compared with therelationship betweenBaopu and Xiaokui,Jingous extramarital relationshipswith Yingying andShi Hua arebetter designed. Theyserve successfully thepurpose of displayingthe hero’s complexcharacter. Jingousrelationships withthe twowomen are not basedon love buton sex. Jingou and Xiaoshuiaredeeply in love, but Xiaoshuiis quite conservativeand to herpremarital sex is impossible.Jingou is not satisfiedwith herattitude. He has sexwith Yingying partlybecause he can notresisther sexual appeal, partlybecause he wants topunish Xiaoshui. Hedoes not love Yingyingat all.Shi Hua is a very attractivewoman. She is marriedand herhusband is Jingousgood friend, who respectsand admires Jingou.Shi Huas marriageis a happy one, butshe is fascinated byJingoustalent and manliness.Jingou does not meanto enter into an affairwith her , but he failsto control himself.He never says he lovesShiHua; however he is attracted byher charming personality.He alsowants to satisfy histhirst for sexual loveafter he loses Xiaoshuiandbreaks up with Yingying.The adultery of a herocan not be found inMaoist literature.Even in the post-Maoliterature where sexuallifeis no longer a forbidden area,adultery is describedin a positive wayonly if it is based on truelove. So it is quite remarkablethat thenovel describes sex as aserious concern in the hero’slife and to acertain extent it rationalizesthe heros affairs withwomen. Here56Jingou is treated asa real human being withweakness shared by allthe human beings.We can say that inthis respect the novel breaksthrough anotherforbidden area in contemporaryChinese literature.The novel does not neglectthe description of Jin’gousguilt andremorse for someof his relationshipswith women. In hisrelationship withYingying, Jingou feels guiltyfor betraying Xiaoshui.After Jingou hassex with Yingying he realizesthat Xiaoshui is agoddess and Yingying is alittle animal. Men respectgoddesses butare attracted by littleanimals. At the spirituallevel, Jingou lovesXiaoshui; at thephysical level he feels satisfiedwith Yingying.However, physical attractiononly lasts a very shortwhile andspiritual love is alwaysthere. Jingou is torturedby guilty feelingsfor all the years before hefinally marries Xiaoshui.Jingous relationshipwith Shi Hua also bringsa lot of agony tohim. First of all he feelsguilty for cheating Shi Huashusband. OnceShi Huas husband mentionsthat he never doubts her faithto him.Jingous face turnsred and he dares not lookhim in the eye.Secondly, he is always infear that their affair will somedaybedisclosed. In a society whichcan sometimes be very harsh toadulterers, exposure woulddefinitely ruin his career, especiallywhen Jingou has so many rivalsand enemies waiting for any chanceto get rid of him. Moral concernis very important to Jingou. Hiscareer as a reporter means evenmore. To Jingou this positionis notonly a respectable job but also hismeans to fight the corrupt officialsand speak for his fellow peasants. However,the novel shows that for57quite a long while,the physical pleasure hefeels in his affairwithShi Hua means somuch to him that it outweighshis moral and careerconcerns. Although heis fully aware of thepotential danger,Jingoustill can not stop seeingShi Hua. The narrator describeshim in thisway:Jingou is justlike a drug addict.A drug addict knowsthat thedrug will ruin his life,but he still finds a greatsatisfaction in usingit.(335) It is quite unusual that the authorputs the hero insuch asituation. In mostChinese literaryworks, a hero is supposedto havea strong will to resistany temptation andalways put his careerfirst.It is also worth noticingthat in Turbulence, Jingoussexualagony is fully displayed,sometimes evenin a way reminiscentof theprotagonists in Yu Dafusfictional works.After Jingou finallydecides not to seeShi Hua again, he worksvery hard duringthe day,trying to forgether. But at night he oftendreams abouther. Whenhe awakes from the dreams,he can not go back to sleep.Sometimeshe has to get upand walk to the dark placesoutside the city.Hetortures himself,swears at himself, pullshis hair and slaps himselfinthe face. These descriptionsfully exhibit the emotionalpains of ahero and are not oftenfound in other literaryworks publishedinmainland China.The endings of these twonovels, especially thefuture of the twoprotagonists are topicsoften discussedby Chinese critics. Somecritics pointed out thatboth Turbulence and TheOld Boat have too58idealistic endings.18I agree with thecriticism about the endingofThe Old Boat.I have already saidthat the optimistic futureof Baopuas a successful entrepreneuris not convincing.But it seems to methat the ending of Turbulenceis not that simple.At the end of Turbulence.Jingou is releasedfrom jail. The Tianand Gong officials influencehas been greatly frustrated,but they arestill strong enough to influencethe leaders of thenewspaper office.As a result, Jingou is askedto stop being a reporterand work in thereference room,where he is unable to doanything significant.Inthis situation, Jingou quitshis job and returns tohis home village toresume his river transportbusiness. This actionsuits Jingouspersonality. In thisway he can make muchmore money thanareporters salary and,being out of the immediatewatch of theofficials, he has morefreedom to do thingshe wants to do. Jingouisdoing very well in hisbusiness after he returnshome. We can notcall this an idealistic endingbecause he wassuccessful in thetransport businessin the first part ofthe novel, and heis the wellknown good boatmanon the river. So his successis understandable.Despite his successas a boatman, the noveldoes not, in myview, predict a brightfuture for Jingou. Xiaoshuisdream toward18For examples, see ZhaoZuhan, At the Backof Karma--A RamblingTalk about Fuzao andGuchuan [Yinguobaoyingde beihou-Guchuanyu Fuzao manyil, Wenxueziyou tan no.5 (1987):87-94.andWang Binbin, The TraumatizedAvengers in ContemporaryChinesefiction [Dangdai xiaoshuo zhongde chuangshang baofuxing renwu],Wenvi Din2lunno.2(l988):37-41.59the end of thenovel is interesting.In Xiaoshuis dream,Jingou hasbought a newmotor boat, as is hisplan in reality. Thisis the firstmotor boat everto sail on the PrefecturalRiver. Xiaoshui isalso toldin the dreamthat Jingou is goingto run for mayorof the county. Butas Jingou, Xiaoshuiand their friends aresailing happily in theboat,they suddenlyfall into the water.When Xiaoshui emergesfrom theicy cold water,she can not findJingou any more.(487) As I havediscussed in the precedingchapter, thedreams in Turbulencearealways prophetic. Thisdream impliesthat the future of theprotagonist is far fromideal. The lastparagraph of thenovel is:Now this is thefifth day before thecoming of the flood,the secondone of the two largestin the PrefecturalRivers history. It isin thedepth of night. Thiscan hardly beinterpreted as the predictionof abright future.However, the criticismof the ending ofTurbulence isnotcompletely groundless.Besides the successof Jingous transportbusiness, someremarks madeby Jingou in the lastpart of the novelalso sound likean indication of anoptimistic tone. Towardsthe endof the novel, Jingouhas a long speech voicingthe implied authorsopinions:...Economicbetterment runs handin hand with culturalprogress. ... Andonly when the peoplereach a certain culturallevelwill the foundationthat bureaucratismrequires collapse. ...(479) Ido not think that thisstatement is completelywrong in content, butit does give the readeran impression that thereis a simple solutionfor the problems inChina: material wealth leadsto a high culturallevel and then the corrupt bureaucraticsystem will automatically60change. Moreover,to let the characterspeak directly forthe impliedauthor in a flavourlessspeech is at leastan artistic defect andreflects the limitationof the author.This episode is criticizedbycritics both in Chinaand abroad.19 Butthis speech can not taketheplace of the basic ideaspresented in the novel,and we can notjudgethe ending of the novelonly by this single statement.The significant ideologicallimitation reflectedin the images ofJingou and Baopu is,in my view, the ideasof rule by persons”(renzhi), which is opposedto the ideas of ruleof law(fazhi).Consciously or unconsciously,the implied authorsshow in the novelsthe belief that changingthe unsatisfactorysituation of the peasantsdepends on certainindividuals with goodpersonal qualities.This isalso called theidea of incorruptibleofficials (Qingguan).InTurbulence, thepeasants viewJingou almost as theirsaviour. Thereis the rumourthat Jingou is the reincarnationof a strangebirdkanshanou.The peasants worshipthe bird for the sakeofadmiring Jingou. AfterJingou is arrested, thepeasants lose theirhope, Han Wenjulaments: “We are finished.In The Old Boat, thepeople in the townare all worried whenZhao Duoduo controlsthefensi business.As soon as Baopu finallyagrees to stand outand takeover the fensibusiness, they all feel relaxed.We have to admit thatin reality, good officialsare better than bad officialsand it isunderstandablethat the peasants hope theycan have more good19See Book Review inNew York Times ,September 22,(1991) and ZhaoZuhan, “At the Back ofKarma--A Rambling Talk aboutFuzao and Guchuan[Yinguobaoying de beihou--Guchuanyu Fuzao manyil, Wenxue zivou tanno.5(1987):87-94.61officials to help them.In this sense, the novelsdo give a truerepresentation of the peasantsmental state. The problemis thatthere is no strongcritical messagein the narration aboutthepeasants ideas of ruleby persons. Thenovels fail to show thatthis kind of idea isharmful in the processof democratizing China.In this regard, theauthors seem to haveas limited a viewas thepeasants.As educated young peasants,the protagonists representthe expeasant authors ideasabout Chinese societyin a more direct sensethan the other charactersin the two novels.However, the othercharacters are alsoof thematic importance,and some are verywellportrayed. I will discussthem in the nextchapter.62CHAPTER FOURTHE CHARACTERS,IIIn this chapter,I will study some other interestingcharacters inTurbulence and TheOld Boat. My discussionwill concentrate ontheco-protagonists andthe villains. The womancharacters and theoldpeasant characters willalso be concerned.The co-protagonistsI wish to discusshere are Lei DakonginTurbulence and Sui Jiansuin The Old Boat. I call themcoprotagonists becauseof their important rolesin presenting the majorthemes, and also becauseof their effects on thedevelopment of theprotagonists characters.These effects are especiallynoticeable inThe Old Boat. AlthoughBaopu is opposed to Jiansusambition, he atthe same time constantlyadmires Jiansus courage.Jiansu serves asa foil. In contrast withJiansu, Baopu sees hisown weakness. It isafter drawing on the daringspirit of Jiansu that Baopufinally decidesto take active steps.In Turbulence, Lei Dakongsbehavior alsoaffects Jingous thinkingand actions. At one pointJingou evenwishes he could be as boldas Lei Dakong.The two co-protagonists are peasantswhose lives haveundergone dramatic changes inthe reform years. They are initially63at the bottom ofsociety, materially impoverishedand spirituallyoppressed. Lei Dakongsparents die early.He lives all by himselfand there are hardlyany utensils in his house.He does everythingto make a living.For several yuan,even in cold weather,he willcarry a woman onhis back to wadeacross the river. SuiJiansussituation is even worse.He was born in awealthy family butbrought up in extremepoverty. His parents die inthe Land Reformand the Communistauthorities takeaway all the familyproperty.Because of his badclass background, anyonecan bully him if theywant to. During the CulturalRevolution, Jiansu, thena young boy, isbrutally torturedby the revolutionaryrebels. In the reformyears,the new governmentpolicy brings greatopportunities to thesecharacters. They leave theland and start doing business.In a veryshort time, they rise likenew stars with theirfinancial success. LeiDakong sets up a companyand becomes the generalmanager. SuiJiansu is the manager ofstores in both Walizhen andthe city.Everybody in the citycalls him Mr. Sui.they associate withthepeople of high socialstatus in the city and becomeregular customersof high class restaurants.People like Lei Dakongand Sui Jiansu are called peasantentrepreneurs in China.The dazzling changesin their lives attractmuch attention and generallyreceive the applause of theChinesemedia. Their stories are naturallygood subject matterfor literaryworks. Peasant entrepreneursare frequently found in post-Maoliterary works. Most of theseworks follow the tone of the Party andthe media. In these works peasant entrepreneursare portrayed as64model Chinese peasants.Their success is attributedto the Partysreform line. Only a smallnumber of seriouswriters attemptto probein depth the complexcharacter of these. peasantentrepreneurs andpresent the negativeside of their characters.Those worksdemonstrate a gooddeal of true insight andartistic courage.Itseems to me that Turbulenceand The Old Boat are amongtheseworks.The peasant entrepreneursLei Dakong and Sui Jiansubelievein the principle ofcombating evil with evil.These kinds ofcharacters are called‘traumatized avengers’by some Chinesecritics.20 Turbulenceand The Old Boat convincinglyshow thereasons why these characterstake the road of ‘combatingevil withevil.’ First, as they wereonce at the bottomof society, they haveastrong hatred for thosewho oppressedthena. They think that tothose evil people,nothing is too much for punishment.So Lei Dakongchops off Tian Zhongzhengstoe; Sui Jiansu wantsto spoil a greatquantity of starch inZhao Duoduo’s fensifactory and alsocontemplates killing ZhaoDuoduo with a chopping knifein Zhaosoffice. Second, thesecharacters are influencedby the corruptpractices of the societyand learn from the officialswho are supposedto be their examples. LeiDakong always talks aboutthe behavior ofthe people in power andthus he rationalizes his ownactions. In thefirst part of Turbulence,Lei is found selling false ratpoison in the20See Wang Bin Bin, ‘The TraumatizedAvengers in Contemporary Chinesefiction” [Dangdai xiaoshuo zhongde chuangshang baofu xingrenwul, Wenyiringlun no.2 (1988):37-41.65city. In response to thecriticism of one oldfellow villager, Leisaid,This is a time whenpeople cheat each other.I am an ordinarypeasant, so I onlycheat for some smallmoney. What about thoseofficials? Unfortunately,you are illiterate. Ifyou could read thenewspapers and see whatthey have been doing,you would feel sobad that you might hangyourself. But thoseofficials get nopunishment for whatthey do. If they becometoo notoriousto stayin one place, theywill be transferred toanother place andhold newoffices.(84) But although Lei Dakongthinks it is airight to followthe evil example of theofficials, he fails atfirst. He tries totraffic insilver dollars, butis caught on the train.All his money is confiscatedand he gets a good beatingfrom the police.It is in jail that Lei Dakonglearns from oneof the inmates howto make good inthis society. WhenLei is released, he decidesto dobig business. Hisfirst step is toget a big amount of moneyas capital.To try the meanshe has just learned injail, he bribes a villagecreditcooperative cadrewith the seven yuanhe has received incompensation forbeing wrongly jailed; thushe gets a loan of seventyyuan. Then he givesthis seventy yuanto the cadre of the townshipcredit cooperativeand gets a loan of sevenhundred yuan.Again hegives this amountof money to the cadreof the credit cooperativeatthe higher level,... in this way he raisesseventy thousand yuanintwo days. This proveswhat he has learned fromhis fellow prisonerand since then he clingsto the way of combatingevil with evil.66Sui Jiansus being affectedby the corrupt societyis notpresented as clearly asin Lei Dakongs case. Buthis experience inthe city, especiallyhis association withpowerful people does teachhim what the people inpower are doing. Duringhis first seven daysin the city he loses several hundredyuan in dealing withthe officialsof various governmentdepartments. Later, hemeets a clerk of theYihua company, a companywith a lot of power butdubiousbackground. Throughthis clerk, he meets theassistant manager ofthis company and startsto do some businesswith these people.They give him old clothesimported from abroadto sell, whichisillegal. One dayby chance he sees the generalmanager of thecompany. This generalmanager is only nineteenyears old and hassome unusual backgroundwhich, in the clerksword, would shockJiansu if he told him.It is quite clear that thisyoung generalmanager is the relativeof a very high official.Jiansu finds outsoonthat the nineteen-year-oldgeneral manager iswell known forphilandering with beautifulwomen. These thingshave openedJiansu eyes and whenthinking about his lifein Walizhen, he talks tohimself in a criticalway: people in the Suifamily think too muchabout others.By showing the reasonswhy the two co-protagonistschoose theway of combating evilwith evil, the impliedauthors blame theCommunist power holdersrather than the two peasantcharacters forthe latters wrongdoings.But we still can seein the narration acondemnation of theway of combating evilwith evil. Through theexperience of the co-protagonists,the novels succeed in showingthat67the way of combatingevil with evil is notacceptable because underthe name of combating evil,these two charactersare actuallyhurting innocent peopleand doing harm to the wholesociety ratherthan fighting the evil officials.Almost all the businessof Lei Dakongs companyrelies onbribery and cheating.A typical example describedin the novel isthe deal in steel products.Steel products are in shortsupply inChina. Lei Dakong doesnot have any. But he entersinto a contractfor the sale of steel products.His purpose is to cheatmoney out ofthe buyer. When thebuyer demands tohave a look at the steelproducts, Lei Dakongtakes him to the warehouseof the countysconstruction bureauwhose guard Lei hasbribed. Lei Dakongshowsthe buyer the steelproducts there to convincehim that this dealisreliable. In their contract,Lei stipulates that ifthe buyer fails to getthe money to the sellerwithin a certain time, therewill be a penaltyon the buyer equalto twenty percent of theprice; if the seller fails todeliver the product afterhe receives the money,he has to pay thebuyer the same amountof money as penalty.This sounds fair. ThenLei Dakong flies to thebuyers city and bribes thepeople in the bankand post office there; sothey will hold the moneyand not let itarrive in Leis company intime. This way Lei getsa huge amount ofmoney from the buyer aspenalty and also getsan excuse for notselling the steel products,which he does not have inthe first place.Lei Dakong makes a hugeprofit by doing these illegalthings and heuses the money to bribethe officials. It is clear thatthe victims ofLei Dakongs evil deeds are not theofficials but the innocent ordinary68people. Because eventuallyit is the general populationwho willhave to pay for theloss of the state-ownedcorporations that havedone business withLei Dakong.Sui Jiansu does notgo so far as Lei Dakongdoes, but his desirefor revenge on ZhaoDuoduo makes himprevent his friendfromimproving the equipmentin the fensi factory. Forthe same purposehis girlfriend helpshim to spoil a great quantityof starch in the fensifactory leased to ZhaoDuoduo. This willmake Zhao Duoduosuffersome loss but will alsoaffect the livesof all the people inthe town.In order to get as muchmoney as possibleto rebuild the Sui familysbusiness, Sui Jiansualso associates withthe people in thebureaucrat-sponsoredYihua Company andsells low quality goodstothe public.The two novels also showthat the co-protagonists,driven bytheir desire to get moneyand power, will sometimesgo so far as tojoin hands with theirsworn enemies; so the claimthat they arefighting evil is nothingbut self-deception. Lei Dakonghates the TianOfficials, but he offersbribes to the county PartySecretary TianYoushan. He also hatesthe Gong officials, butin order to seek theprotection of the powerfulpeople, he is ready tomake his business asubsidiary companyof the corporation supportedby Gong Baoshan.It is only with Jingousstrong opposition that he cancelsthis plan.In The Old Boat, when Zhao Bingsees that his henchman ZhaoDuoduois going to be finished, he offersto help Jiansu obtain the fensifactory. Then he can have controlover Jiansu. Jiansu is very eager69to get the fensi factoryinto his hands, but hisbrother Baopu isopposed to his plan. Jiansuneeds support fromsome very powerfulperson, so he is readyto accept Zhao Bingsoffer. As he laterconfesses to Baopu:’Atone point, I wasso stupid that I was evenready to stand togetherwith somebody in theZhao family to fightyou. (13 1) This episodeis designed toshow that the ploy ofcombating evil with evilsis a complete failure.The true danger of theseco-protagonists liesin the fact that tosatisfy their personal desire,they can do everythingwithout anyconcern for morality ora sense of justice. Thisis an important reasonwhy they are in constantconflict with the protagonists.The latterwill not do anything thatwill harm the wholesociety and theordinary people.If Lei Dakong and SuiJiansu are provided withtheright climate, theywill probably becomeanother Tian Zhongzheng,Zhao Bing or Zhao Duoduo.In this sense, they are nobetter than thenegative characters. However,in Turbulence andThe Old Boat, LeiDakong and Sui Jiansudo not look so bad in the eyesof the peasants.Especially in Turbulence,Lei Dakong is lovedby the peasantcharacters and isviewed as a victim ofsocial injustice. Thishas muchto do with their attitudestowards other peasantcharacters in thenovels.Lei Dakong has a principle:Arabbit does not eat the grassnearits own hole(Tuzi bu chi wobian cao). That meanseven though hecan cheat people in other places,he will not harm his fellowvillagers.He also shows loyalty to histrue friend Fuyun and Xiaoshui.When70he is still a poor peasant,he goes to jail for Xiaoshuissake. After hegets rich, he treats Fuyunand Xiaoshui withluxurious dinners,givesthem presents, andoffers them well-paidjobs. He also valueshisfraternal relationshipwith Jin’gou. Oncehe is at a dinnerparty withXiaoshui, Fuyun andJin’gou. After he is drunk,he asks Jin’gouto putin the newspapera statement that LeiDakong has nothingto do withthese three friends.He says: When I makebig money, we enjoytogether; if there issomething wrong,let me take all thepunishment.(32 1) This is his idea of brotherhood,and this makeshim appear benevolentto both the charactersand the reader.Sui Jiansu has adeep feeling for hisfamily. His main purposeinfighting is to rebuildthe wealth and fameof the Sui familyand seekrevenge on thefamily’s enemies. For thispurpose he willdoanything in the world,including risking hislife. In the CulturalRevolution, the“revolutionary rebelsharass Hanzhang.Baopu triesto protect Hanzhangand is beaten bythose men. To helpBaopu,Jiansu jumps on oneof the men and biteshis hand. He won’t lettheman go until those peoplepry his mouth open withan iron bar. Allthis gives him theappearance of a verygood person.It is understandablethat the narrow-mindedpeasant characterswill judge the co-protagonistsby their personal feelingsand fail tosee the dangerousnature of these “peasantentrepreneurs.” Theproblem is whetherthe implied authors canrise to an intellectuallevel higher than the peasantsand take a critical stancetowards theco-protagonists.In this aspect, The Old Boat doesbetter than71Turbulence, Baopuscondemnationof some of Jiansus behaviourisstrong and this isunmistakably also thevoice of the author.InTurbulence, the protagonistJingou has too muchsympathy for LeiDakong. It is true thatsometimes he blamesLei for his behavior,butmost of this blameis only out of concernfor Leis safety andadvantage. Jingousevaluation of Lei Dakongis fully displayed inhismemorial speech madebefore Leis coffin.In this speech hedescribes Lei Dakongas very smart andvery able.” He thinksLeiDakong is worthyof respect” because Leiis “like a moth knowingthat the flame isahead but not afraidto dart into it.” Jingouaskswith pride: In thousandsof years, where canwe find anotherpeasant like you(Lei)?”(471) Jingou fails to see that LeiDakongonly follows the roadof thousands of peasantsin Chinese history,including the Communistofficials whom Jingouis fighting today.Inthe narration wecan not find the impliedauthors differentopinionsof Lei Dakong, soit is safe to say that Jingousevaluation of LeiDakong representsthe view of theimplied author.Despite all theirsympathy for the co-protagonists,the authorsdo not allow thesecharacters goodends. Lei Dakong is murderedinjail by the bureaucratsto prevent him fromexposing their bribery.Sui Jiansus business suffersgreat losses due tohis being cheatedbythe bureaucrat-supportedcompany and other businessmen.Hehimself suffers froman incurable disease. Althoughhe is still aliveat the end of the novel,his ambition anddream are shattered. Itisalso shown in the novelsthat the tragic fates of the co-protagonistsare inevitable.72One reason is that the co-protagonistslive in a societywithout alegal system that willguarantee the rights ofthe people and limitthepower of individuals.It is extremely hardfor a peasantto climb upthe social hierarchy.The bureaucrats will, forcertain purposes,letthe peasants situationget a little better, but theywill not allow thepeasants to equal themor surpass themin social status. It seemsthat sometimes the officialsgive room for the co-protagoniststodevelop, but this is onlyfor the officialsown interests. As Jingouwarns Lei Dakong:for their own interests,they (the officials) canraise you to the sky; alsofor their own interests,they can throwyouinto Hell. (373) In Turbulence,the cadres at variouslevels allreceive money from LeiDakong. The countyParty Secretary TianYoushan makes LeiDakong a typical modelof enriched peasantunder his leadershipand thus claims creditsfor himself. TheGongofficials want toturn Lei Dakongs businessinto a subsidiarycompany of theircorporation, sothey can infiltrate theirinfluenceinto this county whichis now under the controlof the Tian Officials.In The Old Boat, SuiJiansus store in the cityis used by thebureaucrat-supportedYihua company to selltheir low qualitygoods.When the officialsare in trouble, they alsoneed the peasantentrepreneurs” to serveas scapegoats. In Turbulence,Lei Dakong isarrested and murderedto cover the illegal activitiesof the officialsand their relatives. In TheOld Boat, Sui Jiansu is finedand his stockis confiscated for selling shoddygoods which he has gotfrom theYihua company.73Another reason for theco-protagonists failure liesin their ownqualities and personalities.First, their greed drivesthem to riskillegal business or to associatewith the officials. Indoing so theygive the officials a chanceto use them. And becausethey are alwaysat the front of the stage,it is easy to make themscapegoats fortheofficials evil activities.Secondly, the co-protagonists’limitedknowledge and poor judgementalso determine theirfailure. Beforethey go to the city theyhardly know anythingabout economicactivities and they are ignorantof the true complexsituation incontemporary Chinesesociety. Sui Jiansu doesnot know that sellingimported old clothes isillegal until his storeis sealed by theauthorities. Lei Dakongunderestimates the powerof the Gongofficials and he revealsthe officials’ illegalactivities to the police,which costs his life.Thirdly, their peasantconsciousness is alsoresponsible for their tragicfate. The co-protagonistsboth have astrong sense of inferiority.In order to maintain psychologicalbalance, they tendto seek satisfaction inoverestimating theirownabilities. To Sui Jiansu,his once wealthyfamily is his pride.He oftenthinks that a person withthe blood of the Suifamily can win afoothold in the city. Whenhe is dealing with the officialshe thinksabout his surname andfeels he is equalto them in social status,Thisis unrealistic and remindsthe reader of Ah Qs words:“We used to bemuch better off thanyou’ Who do you think youare?”21 Sui Jiansu’ssurname does not helphim and he is cheated and dropsout of the21Lu Xun, The True Story ofAhQ”[AhQzhengzhuan], in A Collectionof LuXun’s Fictional Works[Lu Xun xiaoshuoxuan], Vol.2, Beijing: Renminwenxuechubanshe, 1952:96.74city. Lei Dakong alwaysthinks that hecan outwit the officials.Whenhe is used by the officials,he thinks that he isbeating the officialsattheir own game.He is also satisfiedwith a superficial triumph. Hegoes to a luxurious restaurantand enjoys the ideathat the Tianofficials can not affordto dine there. After themeetings he alwaysstarts his car beforethe county Party Secretaryso that he will beahead of the Secretaryin the Street. If theParty Secretary is goingto a theatre, Lei willbuy all the tickets in thefront ten rows andleave them unoccupied.These extravagantacts do not have muchmeaning in fightingthe corrupt officials butwill arouse jealousy andresentment againsthim. This partly accountsfor the tragic end ofLei Dakong.Turbulence and The OldBoat also createa group of villains.InTurbulence, these charactersare the Gong and Tian officials;in TheOld Boat, these charactersare Zhao Bing and ZhaoDuoduo. After thedeath of Mao and thedownfall of the Gangof Four, literary worksstarted to portray Communistvillains. In the firstseveral years,most works put thevillains in the backgroundof the CulturalRevolution, giving onean impression that the CulturalRevolution wasthe only thing to blamefor the emergence of thosevillains. Later,Communist villainsalso appear in works setin the earlier periodofCommunist China, such asthe Great Leap Forwardand the Antirightist movementin the l950s. Compared withthese works,Turbulence and TheOld Boat go even further. Althoughthey are setin the reform years, they tracethe roots of these villains backto the75pre-1949 years and portraythe characters fromboth political andhistorical perspectives.These two works suggestthat the villains rootslie in two areasof Chinese tradition.One is the negative sideof the peasantsrebellious goals andthe other is the ideas andpractices of theChinese clan system.The villains of these twoworks are all of peasantorigin. Theyused to be very poorpeasants. In Turbulence,the now powerfulTian family memberswere mere boatmen inthe l940s. One familymember joined the CommunistParty and organized theextremelyimpoverished peasants,most of whom werefrom the Tian clan, torebel against the localgentry. The Gong familywere hunters forgenerations andthey were oppressed bythe mayor of thetown. Oneyoung man in the familyled the otherfamily members to burnthemayors house andto become outlawsin the mountains. TheGongand Tian forces later joinedtogether and formeda guerilladetachment underthe leadership of theCommunist Party. Theywere very activealong the Prefectural River,killing and robbingthelocal gentry. After theCommunist Party tookpower, some GongandTian family members becameleading cadres atthe county andprefectural levels. Theirrelatives and friends,who had fought sideby side with them in the guerillateam, all got positionsin the newgovernment.76In The Old Boat, the evil‘Grandpa Four” ZhaoBing is from apoor peasant family.His father died whenhe was still a child.Itwas only with thehelp of his fathersfriend that he receiveda fewyears of old-fashionededucation. Anothervillain Zhao Duoduowasan orphan. In his childhoodhe often went hungry.He was timid andafraid to watch thekilling of pigs, but hehad to go to the slaughterhouse for some pig entrailsthat people threw away.In the slaughterhouse he was oftenbitten by a dog. He finallykilled the dogwithtrembling hands. Graduallyhis heart became moreand more callous.In the Land Reformhe is the most brutalpeasant ‘activistin thetown.In recalling the pastof the villains, the novelsshow sympathyfor the rural rebelsand legitimate theirresentment againstthegentry, but the worksalso question thegoals of the peasantrebellions. In Turbulence, the Gong and Tianguerilla force oftencome back from combatwith silver dollars andthe heads of thegentry. Their sloganis: ‘Break the city wallof Shangzhou andeverybody gets agirl student.” In The OldBoat, Zhao Duoduo hidesjewelry from the gentry’shouses and gives itto his women. ZhaoBing enjoys the exquisiteutensils from the formerrich households.It is clear that theirpurpose in taking partin the “revolution” isnot,as they often claim,to liberate the “labouringclass”, but to improvetheir individual financialsituation and social status.In this sense,there is no difference innature between the Communistrevolutionand the many peasant rebellionsin Chinese history. The Communistrebellion is still based on thetraditional rebelliousidea “everybody77could be an emperor;maybe it is my turnnext year.(Huan2direnren zuo: minniandao woiia.) This explainswhy the peasantrebels turn intonew rulers and oppressorsof the ordinary peasantsafter they seizepolitical power.It is noteworthy thatthe villains all takewomen as part of thefruits of victory.This is especially trueof the villainsin The OldBoat. Zhao Duoduosattempt to possessHuizi and Zhao Bing’srelationwith Hanzhang bothhave a meaning beyondsex. It is a way forthepeasant powerholders to assert theirequality with theformergentry. Huizi isthe wife of the oncemost wealthy manin the town.Moreover, shehas an obvious senseof superiority over peoplelikeZhao Duoduo. In herpresence, ZhaoDuoduo can not helpfeelinginferior, even whenhe is in power and sheis in distress.Only bysexually conqueringher can Zhao Duoduofeel equal to her.WhenHuizi refuses togive him this kindof satisfaction by committingsuicide, Zhao Duoduofeels so frustratedthat he ventshis anger byinsulting her dyingbody in a beastly way.This peasant psychologicalweakness is more clearlydisplayedin Zhao Bings relationwith Hanzhang ZhaoBing tells Hanzhangthathe will not have a good endon account of his relationwith her, buthe continues: “I have noregret for whatI have done. I am fullysatisfied. Who wasI? A poor man in Walizhen. Andwho were you?You were the younglady in the Sui family, andextremely beautiful.I can die without regret.”(67) Zhao Bing is the most powerfulpersonin the town, but at the bottomof his heart lies a deep-seatedsense78of inferiority. Tohave sex with the daughterof the once richestmanin the town meanshe is even with,if not superior to, the gentry.Forthis satisfactionhe can die without regret.The villains also,as shown in Turbulenceand The Old Boat,havetheir roots in thetraditional Chineseclan system. Itis interestingthat the influenceof the clan systemis made veryclear in thebeginning of bothnovels. The firstchapter of Turbulencegives adetailed outlineof the conflicts betweenthe Tian and Gongclans andalso the conflictsbetween the twopowerful clans and thepeasantswith other surnames.In The Old Boat, thereis an earthquakeepisode in the beginning.That happens in themiddle of the night.Seized with panic, peoplerun out of their houses.Even at thismoment, they do notforget which clanthey belong to. Inthedarkness, the peasantsautomatically form intothree groupsaccording to theirsurnames.The power of thevillains is closely relatedto their positionsinthe clan. In Turbulence,Tian Zhongzhengholds the position ofthetownship Party Secretarymainly because heis the nephew of thecounty Party SecretaryTian Youshan. For thesame reason he isalways under the protectionof Tian Youshan. Whenhe is accused ofa series of wrongdoingsby two other township cadres,at first he isworried and has to behavemore carefully. Buthis uncle TianYoushan soon transfersthe two cadres to otherplaces and promotesTian Zhongzheng fromvice Party Secretary to PartySecretary. Thisencourages Tian and he becomeseven more evil than before.79In The Old Boat, thepower of Zhao Bingis intimately combinedwith his status in theZhao clan. He is theone who belongs totheoldest generationin this clan. It is interestingthat in the narrationhe is always referredto as Grandpa Fourrather than his nameZhaoBing. This reminds thereader continually of hispower as the head ofthe clan. Because thepolitical power and theclan power arein thehands of one person,it is sometimes difficultto tell one from theother. This gives thepower holder an advantagein using them.Whenever it is not convenientfor Zhao Bing to takean action as theParty Secretary,he will do it as GrandpaFour.’ Oncea group ofpeople come to Walizhen,trying to pull down theold wall around thetown. “GrandpaFour” orders the peasantsto break the leg oftheman in the lead. As aParty Secretary,he is not in a positionto givesuch an order, sohe does it as the headof the clan. Xiaokuisengagement withLi Zhaolu can not be renouncedbecause “GrandpaFour” has noddedapproval. As a Party cadre,people’s marriageisnone of his business, butas a clan leader his willshould be respectedin all aspects ofthe clan members’ personallives.Although the negativecharacters have their rootsin the samesoil, they are by no meansstereotyped figures.Each of them has hisown characteristics. Amongthe villains in these twonovels, ZhaoBing is the most complexand interesting character.Just like the protagonists,Zhao Bing is an educated peasant;hehas a very good knowledgeof classical Chinese philosophy and80literature. He alsohas good insight into humannature. He usesthese advantagesto serve his own evil purposes.He is the mostsuccessful puppeteerin Walizhen. For fortyyears, he successfullymanipulates the peasantsand controls everythingin the town. ZhaoBing is as shamelessas Tian Zhongzheng and ascruel as Zhao Duoduo,but he always wearsa mask of righteousness. Peopletrust him verymuch, so he is in an advantageousposition to fulfil his evil plans.He saves the fourteen-year-oldHanzhang from being violatedby Zhao Duoduo andtakes her as his nominal daughter.He protectsher for a few years. Hanzhangis so grateful to him that sheneversuspects any danger fromhim. Actually he is waitingfor Hanzhangto grow up, so he can fullyenjoy the pleasure of havingsex with her.To maintain a nominal father-daughterrelation can makehisintimate association withHanzhang look quitenatural in the eyesofthe people in the town.In the Great Leap Forward,the clever and honestpeasant LiQisheng exposes the cadreshigh-yield crop fraud.For this he istied up and put in prison bythe cadres. That night ZhaoBingsecretly sends some peopleto hang him up and torturehim. ZhaoBing himself calls a mass meetingto talk about this incident. SoonLis wife runs to the meeting toseek help, saying that her husbandisdying from the torture. ZhaoBing rushes to the sceneto rescue him,showing the people how fairand kind he is. At this momentsomebody comes to tell him thathis sick wife is dying too. Zhaopretends to put Lis matter first, saying that hecan not return to her81until he rescuesLi. Everybody is movedby his pose, but actuallyZhao is already tiredof his wife and wants herto die as soon aspossible.In The Old Boat, ZhaoBing has a strange disease.In the wordsof an old Chinese doctor,there are few peoplein the world whoareas poisonous as you(Zhao Bing). Any woman who hassex with youwill be poisoned andat least get sick, somewill die soon.(48) Thisdisease is a symbolof Zhao Bings personality.He is poisonous.Anybody who toucheshim will die. Onanother occasion, ZhangWangShi, the woman whohas some supernaturalpower, sees a snakeinside Zhao Bingsstomach. This alsosymbolizes Zhaos evilinnerworld.However, the noveldoes not portray ZhaoDing simply as an evilperson who maintainshis power only by oppressingand foolingpeople. On some occasions,Zhao Bing standsout as a leaderprotecting his people,as long as this actionwill not conflict withhisown interests. Forthis reason his reputationis well grounded. Inthe famine years afterthe Great Leap Forward,the people in thetown are dying of hunger.The then mayor of thetown fails to obtainany relief grain fromthe county government.Zhao Bing gives him aslap in the face andtells him to go backto the county to argue. Atthe same time he learnsthat the peasants inanother village havereceived a cart of turnipsfrom the government becausethey haveconnections in the county.Zhao Bing leads a groupof starving mento wait at the roadside. Whenthe cart comes, he is thefirst to jump82out and stop the cart.After an almost life-and-deathstruggle, theyget half a cart of turnips,which saves the lives ofthe people in thetown. It is alsointeresting that ZhaoBing does not takethe wholecart of turnipsbut only half. Thisshows that he is reasonableevenat such a moment.In his relationshipwith Hanzhang, ZhaoBing also demonstratessome qualitiesnot usually found in negativecharacters. Althoughherationalizes his relationshipwith Hanzhang in hisplausible Taoist—like theory, he alsorealizes that what hehas done to Hanzhangandthe other Sui familymembers is too much(tai guo). He is notwithout inner conflict.He predicts thatsomeday Hanzhangwill killhim. Powerful and evilas he is, he could stopHanzhang fromdoingit, but he will not. Evenwhen Hanzhangfinally goes to kill him,hedoes not try to escape.He only asks herto finish him quickly. ZhaoBing does push Hanzhangto the ground, but thisis only because he isirritated by her lackof strength and confidence.After pushing her,he blames himself for beingtoo rough. I suggestthat this meansZhao Bing is also torturedby his own conscience,especially when heis getting older. Hewants to be freed bydeath from his feelingofguilt.The image of Zhao Bing hassome special meaning.The educatedpeasant villains could bemore evil than the uneducatedones. Thelatter are often used andmanipulated by the former.This is animportant fact in Chinesehistory, but it is often neglectedin modern83Chinese literature and criticism.In this sense, the imageof Zhao Bingrepresents a new typeof Communist villain image.Besides the main characters,the other charactersare alsointeresting. I wishto make two points hereconcerning respectivelythe female charactersand the old peasantcharacters.Turbulence andThe Old Boat demonstratea strikinglytraditional attitude towardswomen. The ideal female charactersareall old-fashioned. Xiaoshuiis obviously the mostideal woman in theeyes of all the malecharacters in Turbulence,She is also the idealwoman in the viewof the implied author. Sheis pure, good hearted,loyal to her love andfilial to the elders.In short, she has all thevirtues a traditionalwoman is supposedto possess. She is oftenputin contrast to a worldfull of desires andevils. In Jingous mindInthis world, only Xiaoshuiis a pure goddess.(336) In The Old Boat,the personalities ofHanzhang, Guigui andXiaokui are similar tothatof Xiaoshui in Turbulence.Baopu once says to Jiansuabout Xiaokui,Xiaokui is the woman whohas the best personalityin this world.She always lies quietly inher mans arms. If occasionallyshe ishappy, at most she cries alittle. (87) Baopus viewof women istypically traditionaland in the narration we neverfind any differingopinion from the impliedauthor.In order to be fair, we needto mention that the authors dotryto create some female characterswith new ideas, such asYingyingand Shi Hua in Turbulence and Naonaoin The Old Boat. However,84their new ideas arelimited to a superficiallevel. The threeall like towear some fashionableclothes that Xiaoshuiand Xiaokui donthavethe nerve to touch.They also holdmore liberal attitudestowardslove and sex. Yingyingand Shi Hua dareto run after the mentheylike and have extramaritalsex with them. The impliedauthorsattitude towards thesetwo female charactersis apparently critical.Naonao dares to fallin love with Baopu,who is about twentyyearsolder than she andis a widower. Her lovewill be unusualin theeyes of the conservativepeasants and willprobably cause somegossip in the town.In other more importantaspects, these threefemale charactersare as traditionalas other women inthe works.One highly importantthing common tothe female charactersinthese two novelsis their lack of a senseof independence.They allplace their hopesin men. Xiaoshuiencourages Jingouto compete forthe position of reporter,even after he has to breakup with her. Shebelieves thathe will become a personwith power and will beable todo something for thepeasants. She is willingto sacrifice herselfforhim because he isof more importance. Shesays to Jin’gou in herheart: “I am only a girl.I don’t expect to be as ambitiousas you are.I can help you onlyin mundane matters.”(124) Yingying lovesJingou because heis very able and, beinga reporter, he willsomeday bring heran even better life. She saysto Jin’gou: ‘You are aman. A man should goout to make a career.Only when the man issuccessful, cana woman have somethingto rely on.( 13 1 ) Naonaobelieves Baopu is thestrongest man in the town,both mentally andphysically. He is the onlyman she is afraid of; thereforeshe loves85him. None of the femalecharacters in thenovels ever expressesadesire to change herlife on her own. Thenarrators praise thepositive female charactersfor their supportfor the men, but theynever show any regretfor the women’slack of confidenceinthemselves. This reflectsthe limitations of the ex-peasantauthors.While many otherChinese literary workstry to deal with thequestion of women’sroles in society froma new perspective,it issurprising that theauthors of these two novelsstill cling to theveryold-fashioned viewof women.The attitudes of thesetwo novels towardsthe old generationpeasants are generallycritical. This isalso worthy of some notice.InTurbulence, thereare three types of oldpeasants. Jingousfather,the painter, has acceptedhis place at the bottomof society and neverdares to fight. HanWenju, the ferryman,complains all the timebutnever takes actions.Qi Laohan, a boatman, puts his hope in religiousactivities. None ofthese old peasants canbe compared with theyoung peasants likeJingou and Lei Dakong inspiritual strength.In The Old Boat, the most importantold peasant characteris SuiBuzhao. He is Baopusuncle, and in the eyesof the peasants inWalizhen he is “the mostcontroversial personin the town, whosecredits and wrongdoingsare hard to judge.(138) Sui Buzhao isalways eager to know theoutside world. He leaveshome as ateenager and has alife on the sea for many years. Buthe is notsuccessful and has to returnto the town in distress. Among theother old peasants,he is the only one who has the nerve todefy the86traditional restrictions;he is also the one whohas real enthusiasm inlearning new thingsand introducing them intothe life of the town.But unconsciously,he is also limited by thetraditional ideas. Healways talks aboutZheng He, the eunuch wholed a sailing fleetin theMing dynasty. And whatSui Buzhao sticks to isa worn book aboutsailing called HaiDaoZhenjin2. In The Old Boat,as I will discuss inthe next chapter, symbolismis prominent in thenarration. The seain Sui Buzhaos mindis the symbol of the outsideworld. It isattractive, yet full of danger.Sui Buzhao is a representativeof theopen-minded oldergeneration of peasants. Theyare eager to lookfor a new way of life,but the instruments they relyon are out ofdate, so they are doomedto fail. In the novel, SuiBuzhao finally diesin an accident. In an attemptto rescue a youngpeasant technician,he is smashed by thenew machine just installedin the fensi factory.Sui Buzhaos death impliesthat although the oldgeneration of open-minded peasants failin their own lives, they doopen the door, withtheir blood and theirlives, for those who follow.The image of SuiBuzhao is of thematic importance,but artistically speaking,SuiBuzhao is not very successfullyportrayed. One hasthe impressionthat this figure is producedas a symbol rather thana full-fledgedcharacter.So far I have studied mainly thethematic meaning of thecharacters in these two novels.In the following chapter, I willexamine them from an artistic pointof view.87CHAPTER FIVESTYLISTIC FEATURESIn this chapter, I willdiscuss the artisticvalue of Turbulenceand The Old Boat. My studywill centre on the characterizationtechniques employedby the two authors.Turbulence and TheOld Boat have in commonat least threestylistic features.First, both authors characterizethe figures by thecareful reproductionof their speech and movement.Second, the twoauthors both succeedin creating the proper settingsto help presentthe characters thoughtsand feelings. Third,symbolism is themodern narrative techniqueshared by the twobooks. The twoworks also have some differencesin style.To characterize thefigures by their speech andmovement hasbeen the method usedthroughout the wholehistory of Chinesefiction. Both Jia Pingwaand Zhang Wei makegood use of thistraditional techniquein their works. There aremany impressiveexamples in this respect inTurbulence and The OldBoat.In the first chapter of Turbulence,the narrator tells us thatwhen Jingou and Xiaoshuiwere both children, they oftensat in the88ferrymans boatand argued whetherthe sun in the sky andthe sunin the water were thesame one or twodifferent ones.A few yearslater, Jingou is sixteenyears old. One day, whenhe is in theferrymans boat, theParty SecretaryTian Zhongzheng comesinto theboat to cross the river.After asking Jingous age,Tian says thatatthe age of sixteenJingou should have someideas about afuturewife. Tian asks Jingouif his father has alreadyengaged him tosomegirl. Looking at theriver at sunset,Jingou shakes his headwithout aword. The narratorthen does not proceedto tell us whatis onJingous mind. Instead,he lets Jingoumake a remark on thesunset:Gee, it is true that thereare two suns inthe world.(15) A carefulreader can inferfrom this sentence thatJingou is not as indifferentto Tians words ashe looks. WhatTian said makes himimagine hisfuture marriage.At this stage, Jingous relationto Xiaoshui is merefriendship, but inhis subconscious, hislove for her is budding;so atthis moment, Xiaoshuinaturally appearsin his mind. The ideaaboutXiaoshui remindshim of their arguingwhether there isone sun ortwo suns in the world.That is whyJingou, perhaps unconsciously,makes the remarkon the sun. If thenarrator described directlywhat passes throughJingous mind, itcould take a whole page.Buthe uses only one sentenceto disclose the charactersfeelings. Thisindirect description isnot only succinct but alsoeffective in addingaveiled beauty tothe sixteen-year-old boysawakening love.In chapter 16, Jingouwants to break hisengagement withYingying. The two youngpeople have a quarrelin Jingous house.Jingous father, the painter,is worried and does notknow what to89do; so he goesto seek help from Tian Zhongzheng,who is not only theParty Secretary but alsoYingyings step father.Tian agrees togo tothe painters house and seeif he can improve the situation.But, “Assoon as he walks out thedoor he asks the painterto go first. Beforehe follows the painter, Tianlooks around to makesure nobody elseis there.”(242) This movement, lookingaround,effectively revealsTians complex psychology.On the one hand, he likesto have Jingouas his son-in-law, becausenow Jingou is areporter who hassomeinfluence Tian doesnot have; on the other hand,he still looks downupon Jingous family.If he walks with thepainter, he will lookequal to the painterin the eyes of the villagers,especially whenJin’gou wants to cuthis connection withTian. Tian viewsthis trip tothe painters houseas a shame and he doesnot want anybodytoknow.Many more examplescan be be found inTurbulence to showthe successfulemployment of characteristicdetails. After LeiDakong is arrestedfor chopping off TianZhongzhengs toe, Fuyungoes to complain to thecounty Public SecurityBureau. Thepolicemen there want to drivehim out. Fuyun refuses toleave by“holding on to the door-frame.It takes five or six policemento draghim out. The authorcatches the salient featureof Fuyun in thissmall movement holdingon to the door-frame. Abig man likeFuyun has to resortto this almost childish movement.It vividlydisplays Fuyuns anxiety torescue Lei Dakong and alsohis lack ofpower.90In Turbulence, the languageused by the charactersis veryindividualized. From theirspeech, the readercan see the personalityof the speakers. Jingouand Lei Dakong areboth ambitious. Butthere is a difference inthe language theyuse to express theirambition. One night, whileJingou is sitting atthe riverside withYingying; they see thefull moon in the sky.Yingying wants Jingouto compare the moonto something. After themention of somecommon things,Jingou suddenly blurtsout:if I had a seal as big asthe moon, I wouldstamp the skyand the whole skywould be mine.(130)When Lei Dakong comesback from Guangzhouwith all hismoney confiscated,he is in absolute distress.He does not even havea proper pair of pantsto wear. But he is stillambitious. He saystoXiaoshui:Do you know what Iwore in Guangzhou?I even wore asuit jacket. Because I wasout of luck, I hadto sell it. Butyou wait and see, I willsave some money as capitalandstart my business again.Then I wont look asI do now. Onmy birthday, I will seteight or ten dinner tablesto treatmy guests. I will live likeanother Tian Zhongzheng.(252)Jingous words showhis great political ambition.In China,official seal is almost synonymouswith power. The moon andthesky all suggest Jingoushigh goals. But Lei Dakongis interested only91in making more moneyand he is satisfiedwith the superficialtriumph. He enviesTian Zhongzheng andhis goal is to live alife likeTian.In The Old Boat, thesame technique is employedincharacterization.Sui Jiansu is oneof the most successfullyportrayedcharacters in the novel.Here I will discussone episode togive anidea how the author delineatesJiansus psychology withsimple butpowerful descriptionsof his movementsand speeches.During Jiansus stayin the city, he makesthe acquaintance ofXiaofan, a clerk of theYihua Company.Jiansu asks Xiaofan tointroduce him to the assistantmanager of the company.Theassistant manageragrees to see him in ahigh class hotel.Xiaofantakes Jiansu to the lobbyof the hotel and getshim a drink. ThenXiaofan leaves toget the assistant manager.Jiansu waits in thelobby and drinksthe liquid in the colourof orange. Thisdescription of thedrink is from Jiansuspoint of view. At thattimehe is still a bumpkinand does not know thename of the drinkserved in this highclass hotel. He keeps suckingthe straw and soonhe finishes the drink.Instead of saying thatJiansu finishes thedrink, the narrator sayssoon the straw makes a noise.”This is avivid description.It implies that Jiansu is sonervous andpreoccupied thathe hardly pays any attentionto what he is drinking.He is still sucking when thedrink is finished. Also,to make such anoise with the straw isnot acceptable in this place;so it also showsthe peasant Jiansus clumsiness inthis high class hotel. Then the92narration goes on:“He (Jiansu) regrets thathe finishes the drink toofast. He looks towardsthe counter and strikes uponan idea that heshould have the courageto order another one.byhimself. To buyanother drink is a verycommon thing. Butto Jiansu this issomething that requirescourage. This shows hispeasants sense ofinferiority and also his determinationto adjust himself tothis newenvironment. Other peasantsmight not have the courageto makethis move. Jiansu goes tothe counter and saysto the waitressthere:Another drink please,Comrade. As he is fromthecountryside and not usedto the new situation in thecity, especiallyin this hotel, he uses the oldfashioned Communist termComrade.For this he gets a very coldreception from the prettywaitress. Sheturned around slowlyto get a glass and at thesame time sticks outone finger (also very vividdescription). ‘Jiansuknows she is askingfor money. But one yuan?or one jj (tencents)? Jiansu decides thathe would rather takeit as one yuan. And he is right.Whenreceiving the drink,Jiansu notices a name tagon her chest. It readsMiss Zhou Yanyan. Jiansusmiles and says to her Thankyou, MissZhou (Zhou Xiaojie).This time she gives him abig smile. Jiansusquick change from callingher Comrade” to addressingher as “Misssuggests that he is smartand has the ability to adjust. Soonhe seesXiaofan walking outof the elevator with a well-dressedman. Heknows this man must bethe assistant manager. He “wantsverymuch to stand up and meetthem, but he sits there still.This showshis pride and also his peasants inferioritycomplex, for he fears thatif he stands up and reveals hiseagerness to meet the assistantmanager, this man will look down uponhim. But no matter how93hard he tries to maintainhis dignity in this situation,he can notconceal his peasant backgroundcompletely. Thenarrator shows thiswith a powerful detail.After Jiansushakes hands with theassistantmanager, the managerinvites Jiansu togo and have a talkin hisroom. Before theyleave, Jiansu makesa small movement whichhewill regret for allhis life--he gives a glanceto the half glassof drinkleft on the table.The assistant managerfollows the lineof Jiansussight and sees thedrink, he smiles: letsgo, Mr. Sui. We cannothelp admiring the author’stalent for pickingup the most revealingdetails and use themto bring out the character’sinner world. SuiJiansu is a peasant.Although he is froma once wealthyfamily, he isbrought upin poverty. He naturallyfeels uncomfortableat wasting ahalf glass of drink.Despite his effortsto seem as generousas themen he is dealingwith, unconsciouslyhe still acts like apeasant,something he is ashamedof. (99-101)The second stylisticsimilarity of thesetwo novels is thesuccessful creationof settings most effectiveto present thepersonalities andfeelings of the characters.In the preface toTurbulence, Jia Pingwacalls the novel anotherstory on the river. Soit is clear that the novels mainsetting is theriver and the placesalong the river. Jia Pingwaadmits that in reallife there is no PrefecturalRiver in Shangzhou.But in his design,there should be sucha river and this rivershould be the onlybigriver in the Shangzhouarea. (Preface,l)In Jias imagination thisriver should be the most turbulentriver in China. But, likethe other94rivers in the Shangzhouarea, this river shouldbe sometimes clearand quiet and sometimeswild and turbulent.(preface:2) It isobvious that the river isnot presented for its ownsake. The featuresof the river are designedto present the personalitiesof thecharacters.On the one hand, the PrefecturalRiver is a clear andquiet river.The descriptions ofthe scenes along theriver call to mind thepeaceful settingof Shen Congwens TheBorder Town. In Turbulence,the charming scenealong the river is very similarto that in TheBorder Town.The reader can not missthis similarity andcan easilytell the influence ofShen Congwen on Turbulence.The peacefulsettings are createdto present the brightside of human life.InTurbulence, someof the characters andthe relations amongthecharacters arealso strikingly similarto those of The BorderTown. InThe Border Town,there is a ferryboaton the river, the ferrymanhasan orphan granddaughterand a dog. InTurbulence, there is alsoaferryboat on the river,and the ferrymanHan Wenju has anorphanniece Xiaoshuiand also a dog. Eventhe ferryboats areof the sametype. There isan iron cable going overthe river. Sometimestheferryman pulls thecable hand over handto move the boat acrossthe river. The twogirls, Xiaoshui in Turbulenceand Cuicui in TheBorder Town, arealso similar in character.Nurtured by the beautifulscenes, they are bothas pure as the clear watersand as healthy(spiritually and physically)as the green hills. Eventheir namesshow their close relationto the settings. The ChinesecharacteriiinCuicuis name means green,and the character shuiin Xiaoshuis95name means “water”.Jia Pingwa sometimesuses the same wordsShen Congwen usesin describing the thegirls, such as ‘littlecreature”(xiao shou). We have reasonto say that Jia Pingwaadmiresthe atmospherein Shen Congwen’s fiction,including the peacefulsetting and the harmoniousinter-personal relationships.AlthoughTurbulence is set insouthern Shanxiinstead of WesternHunan, JiaPingwa createsa similar atmosphereto present the beautifulside ofhuman natureand human relationships.However, anyone whohas read both Turbulenceand The BorderTown can tellthe difference in theirbasic tones. Thisis because JiaPingwa is not satisfiedwith only presentingthe bright side of thelifealong the river, althoughhe loves it. In Turbulence,he presentsanother side of thePrefectural River: itswild and turbulentfeaturesand correspondinglythe similar traitsof the people living inthissetting.Shen Congwen alsorealizes the riverhas an unpleasant facet,so in The BorderTown he lets Tianbaodie in the river. But ShenCongwen lovesthe pastoral atmospheretoo much. He avoids directlywriting aboutthe cruelty of the river.Tianbao’s deathis told to thereader throughthe mouth of other characters.Turbulence isdifferent. AlthoughJia Pingwa admires the beautifulside of thescenery and humannature, his main purposein writing the novel isto present the turbulentlife of the people living alongthe PrefecturalRiver. Therefore, he doesnot avoid describing thewild and96sometimes cruel featuresof the river. He usesthis river as thebackground ofthe peasants turbulentlife.In Turbulence, theriver gives the charactershope andopportunities to earna better life, butat the same timeit exacts ahigh price from them.In the first chapterof the novel, JiaPingwadescribes the boatmen’slife on the river.He tells how easilytheriver devours thelives of the boatmenand how people,driven bytheir desire formoney, continue to riskthe river transportationbusiness. If one boatmandies in an accident,soon anotherman willmarry his widowand work on the riverin a new boat.In half ayear, seven or eightnewly built shuttle-shapedboats have beendestroyed on the river.This is really frighteningand frustrating,butthese peopleare not afraid of deathas long as they canmakemoney.The river also servesas a harsh backgroundon which theprotagonist exhibitshis heroic traits. Manyof Jingous braveactionstake place onthe river. If there werenot the river, there wouldnotbe Jingou. When Jin’gouis still a child he isalready a goodswimmer. He daresto jump into the waterfrom the height of aboutseven meters. Hepesters the boatmento take him to the citiesfaraway. Tired ofhis pestering, a boatmanknocks him into theriverwith a punt pole. Afterquite a while, Jingou stilldoes not emergefrom the water. As theadults get worried andseveral men jumpinto the water to lookfor him, Jingou surfaceson the other side of97the river and makesfunny faces at the boatmen.Everybody at thescene is amazedby Jingous wonderfuldiving skill.(8)In Chapter 11, Jingou ison the raft with Fuyunand another oldboatman. When theyget to a dangerousshoal, the raft strikesa treestump. Jingou goes underthe water tosaw the stump. Heworksthere for quite a while.Finally, the problemis solved. As he iswashing his feetin the water and almost readyto get back onto theraft, Fuyun, whoat this moment hatesJingou for his betrayingXiaoshui, cuts off thevine serving as a mooringrope. The raft goesrapidly downstream.Jingou is left in thewater. At first heis veryangry, but he understandsFuyuns feeling andsoon he calms down.Later, Jingou is pickedup by another boatand catches up to Fuyunsraft. He sees Fuyunbeing pulled into the torrentby a fallen wireacross the river. Jingoujumps into the waterto rescue Fuyun. Afterhe pushes Fuyun ontoa boat, he himself isdrawn into a whirlpooland his body isstuck in the crack ofa submerged rock. Anotherboatman pulls him out,but Jingous armis dislocated. In thisepisode, Jingousmoral qualities and temperamentare welldisplayed in his confrontationwith the wild river.The general settingin The Old Boat is also welldesigned toeffectively presentthe mood of the characters.Walizhen isenclosed with a lowbut thick mud wall.The wall rises suddenlyat the corner and there arebricks outside the mud.The colour of thebricks has become likethat of iron.’ (4) There is alsoa river goingby Walizhen. ‘The water flowsquietly and seems palein the narrow98river bed. The mill housesstand along the river oneby one, lookinglike old castles. Thereare green vines climbingup the stone base ofthe mill houses. Mostof the mill houses are outof use. Only a few ofthem are still working.They make a big noise frommorning tillnight. Inside the millhouse, moss grows anywherethe feet of the oxdo not touch.(6) This description of the settingat the beginning ofthe novel generatesan atmosphere both boringand oppressive, justlike the life going onin the town for many years.The reader sharesthe mood of the charactersliving in this setting beforehe reads theirstories.Not only the general settingsof the two novels arewell created;many particular settingsare equally good.Jia Pingwa demonstrateshis good foundation intraditional Chinese literaturewhen he usesvery succinct phrasingto vividly create a particularsetting.In Chapter 10, afterJingou sleeps with Yingying,he feels verysad about his now havingto break up with Xiaoshui.It is in thedepth of the night.Across the village, betweenthe two huge rocks atthe entrance of the valley,there are two lanternsmoving around.One voice is calling: “Are--you--back--?.Another voiceresponds:Ye--s, I--am--backThis is somebody summoningthe soulof a newly dead person.(138) This description correspondswith theprotagonist’s sorrow forlosing his true love forever,and it evokesthe same feeling from the reader.99Towards the end ofthe novel, Jingouis released from jail. Heand Xiaoshui go up themountain to seeLei Dakongs coffin, whichisnot buried yet. Afteroffering the sacrificeand making the memorialspeech, Jingou standsup and gazes far afield.In his eye, themountains seem darkgreen and the Prefecturalriver looks likealong ribbon. The settingsun that floats onthe river is in the colourof blood.(472) Since Jingou is sad aboutLei Dakongs death andisdetermined to takerevenge for Leion the corrupt officials,thismagnificent scenevery well reflectshis strong emotion.In The Old Boat, particularsettings are also welldesigned. Forexample, the author arrangesthe old mill houseas the working siteof the protagonistBaopu. Life in the millhouse is very dull.Everything repeatsendlessly in the sameold way. It is a goodenvironment forthe protagonist tocontemplate. Themill is also theembodiment of thenature of Baopus contemplation.It goes aroundin circles, with noend in sight.Sometimes, a particularsetting is createdto provide a sharpcontrast with thecharacter. In thebeginning chapter of TheOldBoat, there is a descriptionof the happy workingscene at the beach,where people dry fensiin the sun. The brightsun, the blue sky andthe silvery white fensimake up a beautiful picture.The girls arecombing the fensiwith their long fingersand the children arepickingup small pieces of fensidropped on the sandyground. People arechatting, joking andlaughing. Then all ofa sudden, Zhao Duoduo,themanager of the fensi factory,appears. Upon his arrival,the100atmosphere of the sitechanges immediately.Zhao Duoduo yellsatthe children, kickstheir baskets upside downand scolds the workers.The contrast of thescenes beforeand after Zhaos appearancesuggests the ugly characterof Zhao Duoduo.The third stylisticsimilarity of the twonovels is the frequentuse of symbols. This featureis more prominent in TheOld Boat thanin Turbulence.Some Chinese critics havealready noticedthe employmentofsymbols in Jia Pingwasworks.22 In Turbulence,many things havesymbolic meanings.As I have mentionedin Chapter Twoof thisthesis, the turbulentPrefectural Riveris the symbol of thesituationin the Shangzhouarea and even inthe whole of China.In the novelthe survey man(kaocharen) should notbe regarded as a character.He is the symbolof modern cultural consciousness.The birdKanshanou symbolizesthe unusual qualitiesand strength of thecharacter. Thefloods signify thebig events in the characterslives.Some critics believethat even the imageof Jingou has a symbolicmeaning.23 His experiencefrom the PrefecturalRiver to theprefectural capital andthen back to theriver suggests the possibleroad the new generationof peasants will take. Jingousfuzao moodis the symbol of the mentaloutlook of the Chinesenation in thereform era.22For example, see Han Luhua,The Aesthetic Mode: Reflection, Expressionand Narration,[Shenmei fangshi: guanzhao, biaoxian hexushu], Dan2daizuojia pinglun, no.2(1990):109-l 15.23Ibid.101In The Old Boat, symbolsare used moreextensively andeffectively than in Turbulence.In the narration ofThe Old Boat, wecan often see a rustychopping knife.It is the symbol of theviolence involvedin the “classstruggle.’ In the LandReform, Zhao Bing suspectsthat his enemiesamong the gentry aregoing to assassinatehim. He tells ZhaoDuoduoabout his suspicion andthat night ZhaoDuoduo volunteers to sleepinZhao Bings room. Heputs the chopping knifebeside the pillow.Atmidnight it is truethat one man sneaks intothe room. Zhao Duoduopretends to be asleep.When the man gets closeto him, Zhao Duoduowields the chopping knifeand kills him. Thisis the first manhe haskilled in his life.So from the beginning,the chopping knifeis theweapon used bythe Communist peasantrebels to breakdown theresistance of the defeatedgentry. After that night,Zhao Duoduoalways keeps thischopping knife with himand every time hekillshis class enemies,he uses the same choppingknife. After theCommunist Party’spolitical power is consolidated,it is still ZhaoDuoduos habit toplace the chopping knifebeside his pilloweverynight. Even in thereform years, when ZhaoDuoduo becomesthemanager of the fensifactory, he still keeps thechopping knife in hisoffice. To ZhaoDuoduo, the chopping knifesymbolizes the power ofthe “dictatorship of theproletariat.’To Sui Jiansu, the choppingknife symbolizes revenge.Everytime he goes to Zhao Duoduo’soffice, he can not help lookingat the102chopping knife.In Chapter15, Jiansu walks into ZhaoDuoduos office.Zhao Duoduois not there. At first Jiansustares at the choppingknife,which makes himnervous. He triesto look elsewhere,but then hesees the pillow with ZhaoDuoduos headprint on it. Jiansuimaginesthat if the choppingknife drops onthe pillow, the pillow willgetwet (78) Itis clear that Jiansuhas in his subconsciousthedesire to kill ZhaoDuoduo with thechopping knife. Atthe end of thenovel, Jiansu learnsfrom his brotherBaopu the truth ofhis mothersdeath. This helpshim make up his mindto kill Zhao Duoduo.ButZhao Duoduo is alreadykilled in a car accident.When Jiansu arrivesat the scene, Baopufinds that Jiansuhas the choppingknife underhis jacket. It is clear thatJiansu was goingto kill Zhao Duoduowiththis chopping knife.From a realistic pointof view, Jiansu’swanting to kill ZhaoDuoduo with therusty old choppingknife is not very convincing.IfZhao Duoduos habitof placing the choppingknife in his officeas aweapon can beexplained as the resultof his nostalgic feelingaboutthis “heroic’ experiencein the Land Reform,then why does SuiJiansu also wantto use the same choppingknife? The rustychopping knife isobviously not an efficientweapon. If Sui Jiansuwants to kill Zhao Duoduo,he can at least finda sharp knife. Smartas he is, he would notfail to see this point. Sohis resorting to thischopping knife canonly be understoodin a symbolic sense.The rust on the choppingknife suggests the longhistory ofviolent struggle amonghuman beings. The choppingknife as a103weapon is also the symbolof the primitive modeof this struggle.Inthe novel, it is made clear thatZhao Duoduo deserveshispunishment, but insteadof letting Jiansu kill himwith the choppingknife, the implied authorlets Zhao Duoduo bringabout his owndestruction. This device canbe interpreted as theauthorsdisapproval of violentrevenge.In The Old Boat, thereis another symbol thatfrequentlyappears. It is the flutemusic of Bosi, the cripple.The first time thismusic appears in the novelis in Chapter 2. Listeningto it, Sui Jiansusuddenly realizesthat “We are the bachelorsin the town. Bosishigh-pitched flute musicis a song for bachelors.(13) In the novel,this flute music is sometimesfull of happiness andsometimespermeated with loneliness.It depends on the moodof the bachelors.In Chapter 16, the villagersare surprised when Bosisflute musicsuddenly soundsvery cheerful. Soon theyfind out that Xiaokuihasagreed to marryBosi. He will no longerbe a bachelor.Bosis flute music can beviewed as a symbolof sexual love. Inthe novel, there isan episode about the deathof one young man inthe Sui clan. He isa soldier and is killedin the war with theVietnamese. The novelalso includes his lovestory with a peasantgirl in the village wherehe is stationed. Becauseof his relationshipwith the girl, he is harshly punishedby his superiors in thearmy.Shortly after this, he diesin combat. The people in Walizhenall goto his funeral. At the funeralthere is a band of classical musicplayers. At first everybodyis fascinated by the charm of the104classical music. But atmidnight there comesthe sound of Bosis flute.It is like a spell; eventhe classical music playersare attractedby theflute music and stopplaying. If here theclassical music symbolizesthe traditional social normsand rites, then in thisepisode, thetraditional norms andrites are defeatedby the legitimate desireforsexual love.In the same episode, thenarrator introducesanother symbol offorce. Grandpa Four” ZhaoBing comes to the funeral,followed bythe Party and governmentleaders in the town. Thisgroup of peopleare the embodiment ofthe political powerin the town. Whentheyarrive, the classicalmusic players allstand up to show theirrespectand Bosis flute musicalso suddenly stops. Thisgives the reader animpression thatnot only do the traditionalrites and norms have tosubmit to the currentpolitical power, butthe natural human desirefor love and happinessis also oppressed by thesame force.In The Old Boat, the centralsymbol is the colourred. TheChinese critics have noticedthat writers from ShandongProvincetend to use red in theirworks.24 As we know,red is the symbolofcommunism, andin mainland China, redis supposed to be the best ofall colours. In The OldBoat, the red colour permeatesthe text. Whatdoes the red colour meanin the novel? In the narrationit is alwaysassociated with blood.I suggest that it is the symbolof the suffering24See Ru Weishi, “Zhang Weis NewWork The Old Boat Is Warmly ReceivedbyLiterary Circles” [Zhang Wei xinzuoGuchuan , wentan fanying qianglie],Shanghai wenxue no.2 (1987):96.105and misfortune broughtabout by the wrongdoingsof the Communistpower. In the beginningof the novel, the oldtemple in the townisstruck by lightning and is thusset on fire. The flamereaches outlike a red finger.(6) This description foretellsthe coming of a hardtime in Walizhen.The red colour is firstof all associated with thesuffering of theSui family under theCommunist power. WhenSui Yingzhi decidestoturn his property overto the Communist authorities,“he gets on hisold red horse and leaveshome.(20) When he comes back,his faceis shining and red.(20) He shows his familya document with a redstamp’ on it.(20) His wife Huizi is so angrywith his giving awaytheir property thatshe pounces on thetable and breaks oneof herfingers. Red bloodsplashes out.(20) Sui Yingzhi’s actionhas notsaved him from beingregarded as the objectof “struggle”, so hehasto leave home again.This time he neverreturns. Only the redhorsecomes to the door.It neighs sadly andshakes its mane, sheddingafew drops of red blood.(2 1) The horse leads theSui family to afield of red sorghum.(2 1) The red horse goes into theforest of thered sorghum and peoplefollow it. On the way theysee red bloodstains on the stalksof the sorghum.(2 1) At last, the red horse stops.Sui Yingzhi is lying ona bank of dry earth betweentwo sorghumfields. Around himis the red grass.(2 1) ‘Sui Yingzhi nods to hisfamily” and “another streamof red blood comes outof his mouth.”(21) He dies in the field of red sorghum.106After Sui Yingzhisdeath, misfortune fallson his family. Thesymbolic imageof Sui Yingzhis red horseon a red backgroundreappears in the mindsof the Sui family membersduring times ofemotional strife.The day Sui Jiansuis going to competewith ZhaoDuoduo for the leasecontract of the fensi business,he dreams of thered horse. In thedream he is walkingon the sandy beachof theriver. The sand under hisfeet is dark blue.It is very quiet aroundand he feels lonesome.All of a sudden, he seesa small red spotfarahead. At firsthe thinks it is the sun,but the red spot leapstowardshim and becomes biggerand bigger. Soon SuiJiansu finds out thatitis the red horse.When the red horsestands before him,he hugs itand cries. He thenjumps onto the horseand rides away on theseemingly endless darkblue sandy beach.(80) Sui Jiansu is eager toget the fensi businessback to theSui family. As the son offormergentry class, he makesthis decision not onlyfor financialconsiderations butmore importantly foremotional reasons.It meansa lot to him. The momentbefore the competition,he is very nervousand the dream isthe reflection of his feelingsabout the Sui familysbitter experience.It is also the symbolicomen of suffering becausethis time Sui Jiansuis doomed to fail inthe competition.Towards the end ofthe novel, Hanzhang decidesto kill ZhaoBing. Before she takes theaction, she remembers herfather ridingon the red horse and gallopingdown the sandy beach. Shealsoremembers the redsorghum field and the red dropsof blood fromthe mane of the horse. Aftershe tries to kill Zhao Bing butonlywounds him, Hanzhang runstowards the riverside. The redscene107appears again. “Therays of the sundye the streets in red.Thewillows at the riversideare swaying in the breeze.Everythingis inblood red.”A girl with dishevelled hairis leaping forward amongthe red willows.That is Hanzhang.She is red all over. Sheruns andbounces, like ridingon the horseback.(141) Although this time thehorse does not appear,Hanzhang is describedas if she were ridingahorse. She is facinga future life in jail.This red scene againsymbolizes the sufferingof the Sui family members.The red colour notonly symbolizes the sufferingof the formergentry, but is alsoassociated with themisfortunes of otherpeasantsunder Communistcontrol.During the GreatLeap Forward, thelocal cadres alwaysmaximize the industrialand agricultural yieldsin their areas. Thenumbers get biggerand bigger. Theyare printed in redin theprovincial newspapers.”“later, people get to knowthat this is anunusual omen.It is the colour ofblood.(46) In the Great LeapForward, one peasantLi Qisheng is torturedfor exposing the cadreshigh yield crop fraud;Zhao Bing calls a meetingto discuss thisincident. At the themeeting, people are thinkingof the rednumbers. The candle isflickering. One momentit is red and anothermoment, the red flameis circled with a ominousblue colour.(47)After Li Qisheng is rescued”by Zhao Bing, he implementsa series ofinnovations for the town.The cadres are very much pleasedbecausethis makes them look good inthe eyes of their superiors.So they108decide to awardLi Qisheng with a red vest.This red vest does notbring good luckto Li Qisheng; instead, itmakes Li Qishenggo insane.The symbols in theThe Old Boat forma framework in whichthethemes are developedand the characters arepresented. Apartfromthese symbols we can notget a good understandingof the wholenovel.The two novels alsohave some stylisticdifferences. Itisobvious that Turbulenceadvances much fasterthan The Old Boat.This has somethingto do with the differenttemperaments andsituations of the maincharacters. As I discussedin the precedingchapters, Jingouis a doer. The focusof the narrators interestis onhis actions and theiroutcomes. Sothe novel has to developat aquick pace. Baopuis a thinker. In thethe novel, he is thinkingnearly all the timeand can hardly findany solution for theproblems.His thoughts lingeraround the historyof the Sui family andthetown. The narratorintroduces long passagesof retrospection topresent the streamof the protagoniststhought. This contributestothe sustained developmentof the novel.. The co-protagonistsLeiDakong and Sui Jiansuare eager to take action.However, Lei is froma poor peasant familyand he has nothing to lose.He never hesitatesmuch before takingaction. But Sui Jiansu isfrom a family with badclass status. His bitterexperience teaches himto be very careful inevery step. Any mistakehe makes will cause a disasterto his familyand himself. Beforehe takes an important step, hehas to think it109over and over andget himself fully prepared.This also causes theslow development ofthe novel.The narration of TheOld Boat has a satiricaltone which wecannot find in Turbulence.As an exampleof the novels satirical manner,we may lookatan episode in Chapter10. During thegreat famine causedby theleftist policies ofthe Communist leaders,many peasantsdie ofhunger. Once, afterthey bury thebody of a starved-to-deathwoman, the peasantssit around and talkabout Communism.Theyhave heard fromthe cadres that Communismis coming soon andwillbring happinessto them. They can nothelp calling: Communism,you kind grandpa,please come quickly,otherwise we peopleinWalizhen wontbe able to see you.One young mantries to explainto them that Communismis not a human being.The peasants all getangry. They retortimmediately: “Howdare you say that Communismis not human? Youare really reactionary!”(55) The peasants areserious when theysay so. They sincerelybelieve that Communismisthe name of a certainperson who cansave them from starving.Intheir miserable situation,the peasants sincerebelief in the politicalideal of which theyare so ignorant is ridiculous,but the reader canonly laugh with a bittertaste in his mouth.Sometimes the narratoruses an assertive toneto describe theabsurdities of life, thusachieving an ironiceffect. For example,inChapter 8, the narrator tellsabout the new turbulentsituation in the110reform years. One peasantspecialized household(zhuanyehu)offers a high annual salaryof 8000 yuan tohire a secretary. Afterlearning this news,a poet can not go to sleepfor three nights inarow. He ponderswhether he should remaina poet or take theposition of secretary.As a result of his hesitation,he loses hischance. He regrets andresents so much that hebecomes a sick man.Here we can not seethe attitude of thenarrator at the explicitlevel,but the ironical implicationis clear.Artistically speaking,the two novels alsoshare one defect. Thetwo authors both add someredundant figuresto the novel for thepurpose of voicing certainideas. In Turbulence,such a figure is thesurvey man (kaocharen);in The Old Boat,they are the PLA soldierDahu and his girl friend.Through the mouthof the survey man,the implied author ofTurbulence giveshis opinions on many socialproblems. Throughthe story of Dahu andhis love for a peasant girl,the implied author of TheOld Boat tries to showhis ideas aboutanother big theme--therelationship betweenwar and human nature,but his attempt fails.These defective elements,however, can beeasily overlookedin these works; therefore theydo not reduce theartistic value ofthe two novels in general.111CHAPTER SIXCONCLUSIONSIn the appendix ofA History of ModernChinese Fiction,C. T.Hsia points out thatwhat distinguishes modernChinese literaturefrom traditional literatureand Communist literatureis ‘its burden ofmoral contemplation:its obsessive concernwith China as anationafflicted with a spiritualdisease and thereforeunable to strengthenitself or changeits set ways of inhumanity.”25He also says that“ theliterature actuallyproduced in CommunistChina shares nothingofthe fiery criticaltemper of the twentiesand thirties andis justifiablydesignated a newphase of Chinese writing.”26When C. T. Hsiamade the above pointsin 1969, his view ofthefundamental differencebetween modern Chineseliterature andliterature producedin Communist Chinawas no doubt correct.However, sincethe death of Mao, literaryworks publishedinCommunist Chinahave undergone a profoundchange. Manyof thepost-Mao works demonstratemore connection withthe May Fourthliterature than withthe Maoist Communistliterature. It seemsto me25C.T. Hsia, ‘Obsession WithChina: The Moral Burdenof Modern ChineseLiterature’, in A Historyof Modern Chinese Fiction,New Haven: YaleUniversity Press, 1971:533.26Ibid.: 534.112that the authors ofTurbulence and TheOld Boat show asstrong anobsessive concern”with China’s spiritualdisease as the MayFourthwriters did andthat the two novels displaya more “fiery criticaltemper than theworks of the twentiesand thirties. In thissense,Turbulence andThe Old Boat are the continuationand developmentof the May Fourthliterature.These two novelsshow the persistenceof the May Fourthtradition. Theirstrong critical attitudestowards the darknessinChinese rural lifecalls to mind thecritical May Fourthrealisticworks. Under thirtyyears of harshCommunist controlover Chinesecultural life, theChinese writers hadin general given theworld animpression of beingdocile propagandainstruments usedby theCommunist Partyto maintain its rule.The birth of matureworkslike Turbulence andThe Old Boat tellsthe world that the“fierycritical temperof modern Chinesewriters couldbe repressed underhigh pressure butnever stifled.In the reform years,this tradition ofcriticizing thedark social realitiesnot only revivedbut also evolved.The authors of Turbulenceand The Old Boatare of peasant origin.When they speakout and claimhuman rights for thepeasants, theyare in the positionof insiders. Thisis something we can rarelyfindin the May fourthliterary works. Inthese two books the indictmentagainst the evil doingsof the ruling politicalpower is strongerthanthat in most of the workswe have read since theMay Fourth era,This is one reasonwhy the two novels were acclaimedby the Chinesecritics and the generalreadership.113The meaning of theMay Fourth literaryspirit lies not only inthe writers couragein exposing the darknessin Chinese life, but alsoin their persistent searchfor the way out of darkness.The MayFourth writers anti-traditionalattitude in their explorationmight betoo extreme, but theirdaring spirit to challengethe authorities inallfields did liberate theminds of a wholegeneration. However,thistradition of explorationdid not develop afterthe May Fourthmovement. The primaryreason, I believe, wasthe emergence andworship of new authorities,in both politicaland literary fields.Anyexploration beyondthe scope and directionset by the authoritieswould naturallybe regarded as heretical.This situation exertednotonly political pressurebut also, and more importantly,psychologicalpressure on the Chineseintellectuals. It fetteredto a great extentthe courage andimagination of thewriters, and wasresponsible forthe thematicallyand stylistically mediocreworks producedin Maoistyears . The worshipof authorities reachedits highest point in theCultural Revolution,when politically oneman had theabsoluteauthority and literarilythere were onlyeight model playsin thewhole of China.As the Chinese sayinggoes, Things will developinthe opposite directionwhen they become extreme(wu ji bi fan).Since the deathof Mao, the Chineseintellectuals have adopteda newanti-authoritarian attitude.I believe in this newattitude lies thehope of both Chineseliterature and Chinaas a nation.In the preface to Turbulence,Jia Pingwa says, ‘Everyperiod oftime has its own literaryworks. ... This is nota time for theemergence of authorities.There will not be anotherMao Zedong in114the political field,and there will not be anotherTolstoi in the literaryfield. (preface:4) Turbulence and The Old Boatboth depict theprotagonists independentexploration fora way out of darkness.Here I use the worddarkness to mean boththe ideologicalpredicament ofthe educated protagonistsand also thesituation ofthe peasants wholive spiritually andmaterially impoverishedlives.It is safe to saythat in these twoworks, the protagonistsexploration is also theauthors exploration.As I discussed earlierinthis thesis, theprotagonists of thetwo works havedifferenttemperaments andtheir views of lifealso differ. Correspondingly,the two authorsexpress differentopinions through theircreativeworks. Whethertheir opinions areright or wrongis not the mostimportant question.The value of theirexploration is notthat theycan find a solutionfor the problems ofthe Chinese peasantslives,but that each of themviews the problemsfrom a new perspectiveand their explorationshave reached anew depth. Thisis anotherreason for the attentionthe two works havereceived in China.Itseems to me thatTurbulence and TheOld Boat very wellrepresentthe new trendof ideological pluralismin Chinese literature.It also seems to methat the two worksshow the authors’freedom in borrowingboth traditionaland modern techniques.Inthe history of modernChinese literature,there has alwaysbeen atension betweentradition and modernity.When Turbulenceand TheOld Boat were published,the discussion concerningthe subject ofliterary modernismand tradition was stillgoing on. The successofTurbulence and TheOld Boat points to thefact that the traditional115narrative techniquesare still full of vitalityin presenting modernlife. The authors ofthe two novels, especiallyJia Pingwa, haveobviously benefitedfrom their reading of traditionalChineseliterature. Modernistictechniques are compatibleand can beblended with traditionaltechniques. A Chinesewriter does not haveto sever his ties withChinese literary traditionto create successfulmodern literary works.As writers born and educatedin Maoist Communist China,JiaPingwa and Zhang Weiboth show in theirworks too much concernwith the political andsocial problems inChina. This concernsometimes affectsthe authors artisticcommitment. MostmodernChinese writers sharethe same problem.This situationisunderstandablein the sense that writersof moral integrity canhardly avoid beingdistracted from exclusiveartistic pursuitswhilethey are witnessingthe suffering of thepeople and facing somanysocial problemsin China. With the improvementof Chinas politicaland economic situation,it is my hope that theChinese writers willbeable to maintaina more stable mindin their artistic explorationandcreate works that haveeven more aestheticvalue than Turbulenceand The Old Boat.116GLOSSARY OF CHINESENAMES, TITLES ANDTERMSBosiCai Da’anchushi1i1IE1Cuicuiq.zDahu1\)cL)- Danfeng.):j-iLDongyangfazhifensiFuyun‘4,Fuzaogan diao taGansuGong;3-7Gong BaoshanGuangzhoujtjiIGuchuan117GuiguiguijuHai dao zhen jingHan WenjuHaoranHuangdi renren zuo; mingniandao wojia&‘44k.,Huangxian4.,4HuiziHunan)jJha PingwaI7hang GuangcihangZilonorjiaojieguoJin’goukanshangou J.-iJkaocharenKe YunluLao jingLei DakongLi Qisheng.41118Li Xiangnan(3Li ZhaoluLu XunLu YaoIManyuer 1LiMao DunMao Zedong iNaonao(ijNongyi chengjipinnongpinxiazhongnong“i‘I)&Qi LaohanQiao changzhangshangren jir*qingguanRensheng‘14renzhi /1rushiShandongShangzhouil1111ShanxiShen CongwenShengli guoshi4:1,1119ShengyinShi HuashuiiKShuihu zhuan 7j>144Sui Baopu14j%Sui BuzhaoSui HanzhangSui Jiansuii LSui Yingzhitai guoTangshanTianTian wen-.&I]Tian Yishen —Tian Youshan -Tian Zhongzheng \iTianbaoTuzi bu chi wobiancao4WalizhenWanyuanhuWenxue shidaiZ.. ‘ 14120Wu ii bi fan&Wu zuxiangXianyouchuanXiaofan?J%(L?xiaojie LJcJ..Xiaokui‘J9-xiaoshouXiaoshuiJXin xingYantaiYi tan qingshui>‘Yihua!1l-—ryingyangshiii)YingyingYu Dafuyuanyue71cZhang Wang Shi1kZhang Wei)17Zhao BingZhao DuoduoZhao Shuli121ZhengYiZhengyue; LayueiE-J -flzhongnong:17 )&Zhou EnlaiF1 ‘Zhou Yanyanj.] ,ZhuDe122BIBLIOGRAPHYCreative Worksha Pingwa, Storiesabout The Mountains[Shandi biji], Shanghai:Shanghai wenyi chubanshe,1980.Jia Pingwa, The Traceof Love [Al dezongji], Shanghai:Shanghaiwenyi chubanshe,1985.Jia Pingwa, Turbulence[Fuzao], Shouhuono.1 (1987): 4-147,reprinted in bookform by Zuojia Chubanshe(Beijing: 1987).Ke Yunlu, “NewStar” [Xin xing], Dangdaizengkan no.3 (1984).Lu Xun, “TheTrue Stroy of AhQ”[AhQzhengzhuan], in ACollectionof Lu Xun’s FictionalWorks [Lu Xun xiaoshuoxuan],Vol. 2,Beijing: Renminwenxue chubanshe,1952: 92-149.Shen Congwen,“The Border Town”[Biancheng], in TheSelectedFictional Works ofShen Congwen [ShenCongwen xiaoshuoxuan],Beijing: Renmin wenxuechubanshe, 1982: 207-293.Zhang Wei, The OldBoat [Guchuan], Dangdaino. 5 (1986): 4-143,reprinted in bookform by Renmin wenxuechubanshe (Beijing:1987).Zheng Yi, “The Old Well”[Laojing], Dangdaino. 2 (1985): 4-73.123Critical StudiesBao Chang, “Howto evaluate the Literaturein the Last Ten Years”[Ruhe pingjia shinianlaide Xinshiqi wenxue], Xinhuawenzhai no.2 (1987): 134-135.Cao Zengyu & Mei Huilan,“The Route of Human Lifeand the Dreamof Human Nature--AComparion between theWorks of Lu Yaoand Zhang Wei” [Renshengzhi lu yu renxingzhi meng--Lu Yaoyu Zhang Wei chuangzuobijiao], Dandai zhoujiapinlung no. 5(1989): 20-25.Chen Yong, “MyViews on The OldBoat” [Wo suo kandao deGuchu], Dangdaino. 1 (1988): 233-239.Duke, Michael S,Blooming and Contending:Chinese Literaturein thePost-Mao Era,Indiana: 1985.Duke, Michael S,“Reinventing China:Cultural Exploration inContemporary ChineseFiction”, Issues andStudies no. 8 (1989):29-54.Fan Zhizhong, “Turbulencein the Old Well”[Fuzao yu laojing derensheng yishi], Dangdaizuojia pinglun no.4 (1989): 83-85.Feng Lisan, “A HeavyLook-back and a JoyfulLook-forward”[Chenzhong de huigu yuxinyue de zhanwang], Dangdai,no.1(1988): 221-232.He Zhenbang, “A GeneralEvaluation of the Creationof Novels in theNew Era” [Xinshiqi changpianxiaoshuochuangzuo de zongtipingjiaj, Xinhua wenzhaino. 12 (1986): 164-166.Hsia, C. T., A History of Modern ChineseFiction, New Haven: YaleUniversity Press, 1971.124Hu Heqing, “On AhCheng, Ma Yuan and ZhangWei: The Evolutionofthe Ingenuity of TaoistCulture [Lun Ah Cheng,Ma Yuan, ZhangWei: Daojia wenhuazhihui de yange],Wenxue pinglun no.2(1989): 71-80.Hu Weishi, “ZhangWei’s New Work TheOld Boat Is WarmlyReceived by Literary Circles”[Zhang Wei xinzuoGuchuanwentan fanying qianglie],Shanghai wenxueno. 2 (1987): 96.un Dacheng, “The AestheticValue of the Charactersand theUnsolved Mystries”[Renwu de shenmeihuayu bukejie de aomi],Dangdai no. 3 (1988):203.Lau, D. C., trans.The Analects, NewYork: PenguinBooks, 1979.Lee Yee ed., TheNew Realism--Writingfrom China afterCulturalRevolution, NewYork: HippocreneBooks Inc., 1983.Li Tuo, “TheCultural and AestheticConsciousness inChineseLiterature--Prefaceto ha Pingwa’s‘Stories about Shangzhou”[Zhongguo wenxuezhongde wenhua yishi he shenmeiyishi--Xuha pingwa zhu“Shangzhou sanlu”],Shanghai wenxue no.1(1986): 86-93.Li Xin, “Reflectionson The FictionalWorks about theReform”[Guanyu gaige ticaixiaoshuo de sikao].Xinhua wenzhaino. 8(1987): 128-130.Li Xing, “On thePsychological Worldof the Writers Who AreCityResidents of Peasant Origin”[Lun “nongyi chengji”zuojia de xinlishijie], Dangdaizuojia pinglun, no.2 (1989): 112-120.Li Zhensheng,“Shangzhou, ha Pingwa’sFictional World”[Shangzhou,ha Pingwa de xiaoshuoshijie], Shanghai Wenxueno. 4 (1986):90-96.Liu Huo, “On Jin’gou”{Jin’gou lun], DangdaiZuojia pinglun, no. 4(1989): 67-77.Luan Meijian, “Thoughtson The Problemsof Peasant Nature inChinese FictionalCreation” [Guanyu zhongguoxiaoshuochuangzuo zhong nongminxingwenti de sikao], Xinhuawenzhaino. 12 (1987): 112-115.125Prusek, Jaroslav, TheLyrical and the Epic,Bloomington: IndianaUniversity Press,1988.Song Suiliang,“My Views on the CurrentSituation of NovelCreation”[Dui changpian xiaoshuochuangzuo xianzhuangde yidian kanfa],Wenhuibao September1, 1986.Tsai Yuanhuan,“The Second Wave:Recent Developmentin MainlandChinese Literature”,Issues and Studiesno. 8 (1989): 11-28.Wang Binbin,“The TraumatizedAvengers in ContemporaryChineseFiction” [Dangdaixiaoshuo zhongde chuangshang baofuxingrenwu], Wenyi pinglunno.2 (1988): 37-41.Wang Hui, “TwoHistorical Views inGuchuan” [Guchuandeliangzhong lishiguan],Dangdai no. 4 (1988):203.Wang Lifen, “Onthe Thematic Evolutionof the New-era NovelandIts Characteristics”{Changpianxiaoshuozhuti yanbian tezhengtantao], Wenxue zivoutan no.5 (1989):27-25.Westbrook, PerryD., Free willand Determinism inAmericanLiterature, AssociatedUniversity Press,Inc., Cranbury, NewJersey: 1979.Zhang Wei, “FourEssays on CreativeWriting” [Chuangzuosuibi size],Zhongshan no. 4(1987): 44-47.Zhao Zuhan, “Atthe Back of Karma--ARambling Talkabout Fuzaoand Guchuan {Yinguobaoyingde beihou--Guchuanyu Fuzaomanyi], Wenxue ziyoutan no.5 (1987):87-94.126


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