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Zhang Ailing's experimental stories and the reader's participation in her short stories and novellas 1987

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ZHANG AILING*S EXPERIMENTAL STORIES AND THE READER'S PARTICIPATION IN HER SHORT STORIES AND NOVELLAS By Evelyne Teichert B.A. The University of Victoria 1985 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Asian Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard The University of British Columbia December, 1987 ® Evelyne Teichert, 1987 In p resen t ing this thesis in part ia l f u l f i lmen t o f t h e requ i remen ts fo r an a d v a n c e d d e g r e e at t h e Univers i ty o f Bri t ish C o l u m b i a , I agree that t h e Library shall m a k e it f reely avai lable fo r re ference a n d s tudy . I f u r the r agree that permiss ion fo r ex tens ive c o p y i n g o f th is thesis fo r scholar ly pu rposes may b e g ran ted b y the h e a d o f m y d e p a r t m e n t o r b y his o r her representa t ives . It is u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r pub l i ca t i on o f th is thesis fo r f inancia l gain shall no t b e a l l o w e d w i t h o u t m y w r i t t e n pe rm iss ion . D e p a r t m e n t o f rQ^<3L4<. S^LQlic^ The Univers i ty o f Brit ish C o l u m b i a 1956 M a i n M a l l Vancouver , Canada V6T 1Y3 • a t e g w "r^fgn- ABSTRACT This thesis i s an in-depth analysis of three l a t e r short s t o r i e s "Lust and R e s t r i c t i o n s " ), "Flowers and P i s t i l s Floating on the Waves" Cvffitrf&&> and "Happy Reunion" ^b^jfyt ) written by the 1921 Shanghai born Chinese author Zhang A i l i n g . The analysis takes a look at the structure of these short s t o r i e s and discovers that they d i f f e r from her e a r l i e r short s t o r i e s , that i s those she wrote ten years e a r l i e r i n the 1940s, i n t h e i r s t r u c t u r a l and narrative approach and thereby place a greater demand upon the reader's p a r t i c i p a t i o n . These three s t o r i e s are the only short s t o r i e s by Zhang A i l i n g that do not develop i n a l i n e a r fashion. The author introduces them i n the preface of the anthology Sense of Loss by c a l l i n g the second story "Flowers and P i s t i l s F l o a ting on the Waves" an "experiment." Because of t h e i r s i m i l a r s t r u c t u r a l and narrative approach, I c a l l e d a l l three of them "experimental" which r e a l l y means the same as "modernists", to d i s t i n g u i s h them from her e a r l i e r l i n e a r s t o r i e s . The three major c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the experimental s t o r i e s , that i s — t h e narrative happening i n the character's minds, the chronological d i s t o r t i o n of the narrative and the almost i n v i s i b i l i t y of a narrator large subordinated to the character's p r e s e n c e — a l l have the e f f e c t of bringing the reader close to the characters' subjective thoughts and r e f l e c t the characters' state of mind i n the s t o r i e s ' present time, depending on the frequency of the switches between the times, that i s between the past happening i n the characters' minds and the s t o r i e s - i i i - present time. The reader's participation in these three stories is largely due to the narrative structure while in some of Zhang Ailing's lienar stories, as examined in this paper, it is based on the stories' content. The political changes in China, and the author's move away from the mainland could account for her increasingly pessimistic outlook on lif e reflected in the disjointed structures of the "experimental" stories. - i v - TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ANALYSIS Introduction • 1 1. The Reader's P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n Zhang A i l i n g ' s Linear Stories 14 2. "Lust and Abstinence": An Anxious Mind. 40 3. "Flowers and P i s t i l s Floating in the Waves: A Mind at Rest.... 64 Appendix to Chapter 3 "Flowers and P i s t i l s Floating in the Waves: Narrative and Story 90 4 . "Happy Reunion": A Conversation 96 Conclusion 122 Bibliography 131 Glossary 133 1 ANALYSIS Introduction E v e r s i n c e the 1921 S h a n g h a i bo rn w r i t e r Zhang A i l i n g ( ^ L _ 1 § r ) s t a r t e d to p u b l i s h her s h o r t s t o r i e s i n magaz ines a t the age of 2 2 , her work has been i n t r o d u c e d and a n a l y z e d f i r s t by C h i n e s e c r i t i c s i n C h i n e s e * and l a t e r i n E n g l i s h ( s e e the o f t e n quo ted A H i s t o r y o f Modern C h i n e s e F i c t i o n by C . T . H s i a , 1961 and Unwelcome Muse by Edward Gunn, 1 9 8 0 ) . There h a s , howeve r , not been much s a i d about he r l a t e s t c o l l e c t i o n of s h o r t s t o r i e s and n o v e l l a s Sense of L o s s ( j f&"^L^ ) p u b l i s h e d i n 1983 . Zhang A i l i n g w r o t e the seven s t o r i e s i n t h i s a n t h o l o g y (among them one mov ie s c r i p t ) i n the 1950s and as e a r l y as 1944 ( " Y i n Baoyan B r i n g s F l o w e r s " ( J § $ J ^ ^y^S^J^jj^t ^ | ' ) a n d p u b l i s h e d a l m o s t a l l of them i n v a r i o u s m a g a z i n e s ( f o r example " S o Much H a t e " (^ty$C ) i n Da J i a , 1 9 4 7 ) . , W e l l v e r s e d i n E n g l i s h she p u b l i s h e d one of the s t o r i e s f i r s t i n E n g l i s h ( " S t a l e M a t e s " i n The R e p o r t e r , 1956) and one y e a r l a t e r , w i t h s l i g h t m o d i f i c a t i o n s , t r a n s l a t e d i t i n t o C h i n e s e (^i^flS^ft ) • The t h r e e s t o r i e s " L u s t and A b s t i n e n c e " ( ^ j , 5 $ c ) , " F l o w e r s and P i s t i l s ^See for example "Discussing Zhang A i l i n g ' s F i c t i o n " by Xun Yu i n Wan Xiang, May 1 9 4 4 ) . In his a r t i c l e "About Xun Yu's 'Discussing Zhang A i l i n g ' s f i c t i o n " 1 Tang Wenbiao refutes C.T. Hsia's statement that no serious research was done on Zhang A i l i n g ' s work during the years she was popular i n Shanghai ( 1 9 4 2 - 1 9 4 5 ) . Tang l i s t s a number of serious a r t i c l e s he found by "randomly l e a f i n g " through magazines published during those years. (In Tang Wenbiao, Zhang A i l i n g Yanjiu (Researching Zhang A i l i n g ) , p. 1 0 8 ) . C.T. Hsia made the statement in his preface to Shui Jing's Zhang A i l i n g de Xiaoshuo Yishu (The Art of Zhang A i l i n g ' s F i c t i o n , p. 3) . 2 f l o a t i n g on the Waves" ( \^-4\L± )2 and "Happy Reunion" ( v j ^ l j | _ J ^ f . ^ L ) are published i n Sense of Loss for the f i r s t time together (except for "Flowers and P i s t i l s " which has i t s very f i r s t appearance in the c o l l e c t i o n ) and have up to now not attracted a l o t of attention. Zhang A i l i n g writes i n the introduction to the book, expressing her obvious fondness for the three s t o r i e s : Actually the three recent works were also a l l written in the 1950s but have repeatedly undergone major r e v i s i o n s . After "Happy Reunion" and "Lust and Abstinence" were published, I added and changed them again in many places. While making the l a s t major changes in "Flowers and P i s t i l s Floating on the Waves" 1 referred to the methods of s o c i a l l i t e r a t u r e . The subject matter i s more scattered than the recent s t o r i e s ; i t was an experiment. These three s t o r i e s a l l pleased me with the result that I was w i l l i n g to change them repeatedly over the years, and when I c a l l them to mind 1 only think about the happy surprise of i n i t i a l l y getting the material and the course of rewriting them, and do not f e e l at a l l the t h i r t y years that have passed in between.3 Compared to her e a r l i e r short s t o r i e s and novellas (compiled i n The Collected s t o r i e s of Zhang A i l i n g ( x J x l t ^ L / ' ^ ) and Zhang's Outlook (95c./^ )) a l l three of the s t o r i e s mentioned appear "experimental" and w i l l for the purpose of this paper be so called as d i s t i n c t from her e a r l i e r , conventional s t o r i e s . The purpose of this paper is to focus on a l l three stories in a comparative approach to her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s (Chapter I) i n terms of the reader's p a r t i c i p a t i o n and furthermore to show why the 'scattered' material in the three stories 2Hereafter "Flowers and P i s t i l s " . 3"Sense of Loss", p. 8. 3 s u i t s the theme of each. (Chapters I I , I I I , and I V ) . Zhang A i l i n g ' s experimental s tor i e s are character ized by a greater demand for the reader's c o l l a b o r a t i o n in that the reader has to follow a n a r r a t i v e happening mostly i n the characters ' minds and thereby, as the n a r r a t i v e catches the moving thoughts of the characters , has to piece together a story chrono log i ca l l y d i s t o r t e d . These three s tor ies are the only s tor ie s which do not have a l i n e a r development but present the mater ia l in jumps between various times, hence the d e s c r i p t i o n ' s c a t t e r e d . 1 • • In order to get a deeper enjoyment from any piece of art the reader (or viewer or l i s t e n e r ) has to get involved c lo se ly with the piece and w i l l with each repeated reading (or viewing or l i s t e n i n g ) f ind some new enjoyment in i t s workings. This is the kind of par t i c ipa ton the reader needs to bring to Zhang A i l i n g ' s l i n e a r s t o r i e s , in order to both grasp the basic plot of the s tory , and savour her deta i l ed charac ter i za t ion and r i c h imagery.^* It can be s a i d , however, that the reader's p a r t i c i p a t i o n in these s tor ies i s more passive (except for the few I w i l l introduce in Chapter I , in which a b i t more act ive c o l l a b o r a t i o n is demanded from the reader as part of the p l o t ) . The atmosphere of the s tor ie s through the various techniques of commentary, imagery and symbols i s spooned to the reader, who can s i t back and indulge i n pure aesthet ic enjoyment. In her ^The author has been commended on as "boast[ing] the r iches t imagery of any contemporary Chinese wri ter" (Hs ia , A H i s t o r y , p. 295. See also Stephen Cheng's d e t a i l e d analys i s of Zhang's techniques i n his a r t i c l e "Themes and Techniques i n E i l e e n Chang's S tor ie s" , p p . 180-89, Xun Yu's a r t i c l e and Shui J i n g ' s study of Zhang's use of the imagery of mirrors . (The A r t , pp. 129). 4 conventional s tor i e s (that i s in those with a l i n e a r development and minimum reader contr ibut ion) these techniques are provided by an omniscient narrator (more or less v i s i b l e ) whose funct ion is to present the characters to the reader and provide an ex ter ior atmosphere into which to embed the characters . (See the comparison of "Happy Reunion" with "Waiting", Chapter IV) . In the experimental s tor i e s the characters provide th i s atmosphere through t h e i r thoughts about the present and the past . The narrator is less ac t ive in descr ib ing a character or an atmosphere, and only does so when the moment, that i s the character , brings i t up i n h i s / h e r thoughts or speech. In other words, rather than standing in front of the n a r r a t i v e , the narrator now lags one step behind the a c t i o n . In the order in which the three s tor ies appear in Sense of Loss , there i s a reduct ion in the use of symbolism and imagery and hence a not iceable departure from the author's techniques used in her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s . The f i r s t s t o r y , "Lust and Abstinence" contains most of these e a r l i e r l i t e r a r y devices such as recurr ing symbols of l i gh t s and glass in various shapes and s izes to point to the f i n a l meaning of the s tory . They support the sensation of J i a z h i ' s move away from a l i f e on stage to an existence in r e a l l i f e . These symbols are p a r t l y provided by the narrator and p a r t l y by J i a z h i ' s own observat ions , embedding her into the narrat ive and i n ef fect r e f l e c t i n g her des ire for f i n a n c i a l and emotional s e c u r i t y . In the second s tory , "Flowers and P i s t i l s " , the frequent mention of countries from around the world gives a sense of space, they suggest Luozhen's mobi l i ty and her independent mind. "Happy Reunion", the th i rd 5 story, appears barren, with hardly any comments by the narrator to convey a sense of the environment the characters are situated i n , as an extension of t h e i r inner l i v e s . The characters provide this atmosphere themselves, through t h e i r words and mostly t h e i r thoughts, as i n a dramatic performance. The narrator here i s subordinated to the characters' presence, his task i s to merely illuminate t h e i r thoughts and provide some b r i e f "stage d i r e c t i o n s " . This absence of adorning, mood-creating comments around the action, r e f l e c t s the uneventful l i v e s the characters lead and th e i r dulled states of mind after a l i f e of ups and downs. This brings us to the structure of the s t o r i e s which, when analyzed from an external point of view, provides an additional sense of "atmosphere." It does this by the p a r t i c u l a r arrangement of the temporal changes in each narrative in accordance with the demands of the f i n a l story-meaning. Due to the temporal switches, the structure here is more apparent than in the l i n e a r stories and therefore detachable from the meaning. Contextually, however, the two, structure and meaning, are interdependent. In order to understand what is meant by "temporal switches" we need to define the various times that govern the structure of each of the experimental s t o r i e s . We d i f f e r e n t i a t e between a present time-action which i s accompanied by dialogues and thoughts about that present moment,5 and various pasts which occur i n the characters' minds i n the form of memories complete with dialogues, and the thoughts the 5lt should be noted that the "present time" i s a c t u a l l y a "present past time" or a " h i s t o r i c a l present" because although the action in the story happens for the characters in the present, the narrative (as translated into English) appears in the past tense. 6 characters had at that time ( f lashbacks) . The interdependence of s tructure and meaning in "Lust and Abstinence" is marked by the quick switches back and for th between the present and the past . This helps to provide the impression of the main character ' s anxious mind. During the few hours of the afternoon in the present ac t ion ; time seems to stand s t i l l , almost a l l act ions J i a z h i performs are recorded, g iv ing a sense of intense concentrat ion. In "Flowers and P i s t i l s " the l i m i t e d present ac t ion but more extensive act ion in various pasts r e f l e c t Luozhen's mind at rest as she re l inquishes a l l r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s on the boat. The present time in the story is extended over a period of more than ten days, only a few actions are mentioned, thus increas ing the i l l u s i o n of stretched time and ease. In "Happy Reunion" the s t a t i c present ac t ion (that i s almost absence of act ion and story development) contrasted with the dynamic thoughts in the four characters ' minds represents the ir current d u l l , sedentary l i v e s compared to the more exc i t ing years of the past . The thoughts within these switches are f i l t e r e d through the voice of the narra tor , as the characters th inking are themselves presented in the t h i r d person and past tense. Throughout the s t o r i e s , however, the i l l u s i o n is maintained that the thoughts are those of the characters due to the s i t u a t i o n at that p a r t i c u l a r t ime. ("It i s said the Chinese are not on time, but once they reached o f f i c i a l c i r c l e s , i t was even worse. If she had to keep wait ing l i k e t h i s , the 6tores would a l l be closed", p. 23).6 On rare occasions the thoughts seem to appear i n the form of a ^ A l l page i n d i c a t i o n s of the experimental s tor ie s refer to Sense of Loss . 7 "stream of consciousness," that i s i f we understand th is term to be "the i l l o g i c a l , ungrammatical, mainly as soc ia t ive patterns of human thought."^ In the f i r s t story for example, the reader follows J i a z h i ' s observations as she enters a coffeeshop and notes various things around the shop. Or when she thinks about a happy memory, the sentences appear d i s jo inted without connecting conjunctions (See Chapter I , p . 44). The bulk of the characters ' thoughts, however, are presented by "narrated monolgue" whereby the " ' n a r r a t e d ' accounts for the i n d i r e c t features - th ird person and p r i o r tense" "and 'monologue' conveys the sense of hearing the very words of the character . As the independent voice of the narrator creat ing the atmosphere gradual ly disappears from the f i r s t story to the t h i r d , there is also an increas ing separation between the past and the present in terms of the cause and ef fects of one time on the other. There i s a t ight i n t e r a c t i o n between the n a r r a t o r ' s external voice (descr ib ing the environment, the characters and i n t e n s i f y i n g the moments by use of imagery and symbols) and the temporal switches in the f i r s t s tory . The i n t e r a c t i o n loosens up in the second story and is almost absent in the t h i r d s tory . In "Lust and Abstinence" the past and present are c lose ly i n t e r r e l a t e d , the reader cannot understand J i a z h i ' s present without her memories of the past . This of course works wel l for the p l o t ; other characters and the reader are kept ignorant up to a c e r t a i n point of J i a z h i ' s rea l i d e n t i t y . As th i s 'Scholes and K e l l o g , The Nature of N a r r a t i v e , p . 177. ^Chatman, Story and Discourse , p . 203. 8 story involves spies and a plotted assasination, the narrator does not explain the situation, nor any of Jiazhi's thoughts, making it appear incongruous at first. Clarity develops gradually when Jiazhi has a moment to herself in the present time and thinks about the past. The past in "Flowers and Pistils" contains passages which could exist as separate entities from the present time, but the various pasts are all related to the present in that they explain Luozhen's presence on the boat and more importantly give a picture of Luozhen's character. In the third story both times (past and present) could theoretically stand by themselves but the present time would amount to a very shallow story as there is virtually no action and the characters do not tell each other very much. The past provides the necessary depth to the story and explains much of the characters' present situation. It appears that also in terms of success, or at least in keeping the reader's interest, the three experimental stories decrease in appeal in the order they appear in the collection. Zhang Ailing is successful at constructing stories which have their emphasis on narrated monologue, but while the reader is kept in suspense by the gradual disclosure of information in the first story and intrigued by the jumps between the various times in the second story, in the third story, besides perhaps enjoying the thought patterns, the reader is in danger of falling asleep over the slow pace and the dullness of the characters' lives, which even their several pasts is not able to enliven very much. The reader is not compelled to feel any sympathy for the characters but remains indifferent to their chatter and their 'hard lives'. As far as these three stories 9 are concerned, Zhang Ailing seems at her best on the middlepath between the conventional and the experimental. On the one hand, she makes use of her talent in creating a mood around the characters, which reflects their inner lives or which forebodes what life has in store for them, and on the other hand she uses the structure of the narrative to represent the characters' state of mind. It has been commented that Zhang Ailing writes mostly about variations on the theme of love and marriage.9 This is only partly true of her experimental stories. As a l l of them portray a relatively short period of a character's or some characters' lives cut from the overall span of their fictional existence (slice of li f e ) , love and marriage, or relationships between men and women appear in each story in various forms, but only the first story deals with love as the central theme. Jiazhi sleeps with a 'traitor' to her country in order to gain his trust so that her group can trap and k i l l him, but in the process she falls in love with him and saves his l i f e . The nature of her relationship with Mr. Yi and the other men of her group points to the fact that she sacrifices her life (and her body) for a cause she intellectually supports when emotionally she wants a secure life with a house and a family. In the second and third story, mentions of relationships between men and women are part of the plot but are only there to point to a meaning beyond these passages. Luozhen's thoughts about Fanny visiting the captain on the boat at night, and her thoughts about Mr. Kali teasing her, reflect her personality (and 9Tang, Researching, p. 178; Cheng, "Themes and Techniques", p. 173. 10 i n p a r t i c u l a r her i d e a of " l o v e " ) r a t h e r t han d e v e l o p a s t o r y abou t l o v e . The t h r e e women i n "Happy R e u n i o n " a re e i t h e r u n h a p p i l y m a r r i e d , r e s i g n e d t o a s t a l e r e l a t i o n s h i p — M r s . X u n — o r s e p a r a t e d f r o m t h e i r s p o u s e — M r s . Wu and Y u a n m e i — . The r e p e t i t i o n o f t h e s t o r y M r s . Xun t e l l s about the man f o l l o w i n g her i n P e k i n g (one of t he fo rms of a r e l a t i o n s h i p between a man and a woman) appears i n t h e n a r r a t i v e t o show the two o l d e r women's l o s s o f memory, no t because t h e even t i s o f c e n t r a l i n t e r e s t t o the s t o r y . I t can t h u s be s a i d t h a t w h i l e Zhang A i l i n g has used the themes of l o v e and m a r r i a g e i n her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s f o r her o b s e r v a t i o n of human b e h a v i o u r , i n p a r t i c u l a r the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between t h e s e x e s , her emphasis i n t h e e x p e r i m e n t a l s t o r i e s has s h i f t e d t o c o n v e y i n g a sense of p a r t i c i p a t i n g d i r e c t l y i n t he c h a r a c t e r s m i n d s . A s e n s i t i v e r e a d e r may a l s o i n t e r p r e t t h e d i s j o i n t e d s t r u c t u r e of t he s t o r i e s as the a u t h o r ' s a t t e m p t to i m p a r t he r v iew of Ch inese s o c i e t y as i t was d u r i n g the t u r b u l e n t y e a r s of t he r e v o l u t i o n . A l t h o u g h she n o t e s i n t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n t o the a n t h o l o g y t h a t she was i n f l u e n c e d by s o c i a l l i t e r a t u r e , the r e a d e r does not f e e l a roused i n t o a c t i o n by t h e s t o r i e s , t h e r e i s a s t r o n g e r i m p r e s s i o n of t he a u t h o r ' s p e s s i m i s t i c o u t l o o k on l i f e , of s t a t i n g w i t h o u t " c a l l i n g t o a r m s " . The d i f f e r e n c e between the f i r s t and the l a s t two e x p e r i m e n t a l s t o r i e s may be i n t h e dynamics o f t h e p l o t , t h a t i s t h e c o n n e c t i o n of t h e changes t h e c h a r a c t e r s undergo i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e e x t e r n a l a c t i o n . Rober t S c h o l e s and R o b e r t K e l l o g i n The N a t u r e o f N a r r a t i v e d i s t i n g u i s h between d e v e l o p m e n t a l and c h r o n o l o g i c a l c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n . I n t he d e v e l o p m e n t a l " t h e c h a r a c t e r ' s p e r s o n a l t r a i t s a re a t t e n u a t e d so as t o c l a r i f y h i s 11 progress along a plot l i n e which has an e t h i c a l basis", in "the chronological, . . . the character's personal t r a i t s are ramified so as to make more s i g n i f i c a n t the gradual s h i f t s worked i n the character during a plot which has a temporal basis. This l a t t e r kind of p l o t t i n g and cha r a c t e r i z a t i o n i s highly mimetic."* 0 Zhang A i l i n g ' s short stories and novellas, most e s p e c i a l l y her experimental s t o r i e s , are of the l a t t e r kind. While the f i r s t of these three has, as discussed before, more narrative elements such as p l o t , commentary and descriptions, and while a l l three of them give the reader the sense of "peering d i r e c t l y into the. mind" of the characters, in the l a s t two stories less action and more character study takes place. Rather than placing emphasis on plot, the emphasis i s on character study by revealing the character's mind as i t travels through time. The inward turning of the narrative, the effacement of the author "to l e t the characters work out t h e i r own fates"** and the emphasis on time (chronological rearrangement) are the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the modern story. "With the coming of the twentieth century," write Scholes and Kellog " p l o t t i n g i n narrative became dominated by time as i t never had been before . . . plots began to be developed which were based on rearranging time so that the resolution became not so much stasis of concluded action as s t a s i s of i l l u m i n a t i o n , when the missing pieces of the temporal jigsaw puzzle were a l l f i n a l l y in place and the picture therefore 10 p. 169. **Wa yne Booth, The Rhetoric of F i c t i o n , p.7. 12 complete".12 i n such 6 t o r i e s the reader, by the fact of not being given n a r r a t o r i a l evaluation and by following the movements of the characters' thoughts as i t d i s t o r t s the temporal sequence of cause and e f f e c t , i s challenged into active p a r t i c i p a t i o n . The nature of the narrative i s such that the reader, i n order to f i n d a p a r t i c u l a r event i n the story, cannot open the book at any page and follow a l i n e of "what happens after what" to f i n d the event, but has to have the whole narrative in mind to know at what point which character thinks about what. It i s the reader who in his mind by the end of his reading joins together a story of a narrative in "disorder". As Zhang A i l i n g i s said not to have commented much on which western l i t e r a r y works have influenced her writing, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to look for any s p e c i f i c work. She i s , however, said to have read S t e l l a Benson, Somerset Maugham, Aldous Huxley, modern western plays and English popular l i t e r a t u r e and to have been aware of such writers as Chekhov, Tolstoy, H .G. Wells, Kafka, Joyce and B r e c h t . ^ In her experimental stories there i s , however, a clear break away from the influence of the Chinese c l a s s i c a l t r a d i t i o n found in her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s as far as the writing techniques are concerned (I w i l l mention more about these in Chapter I) toward an exploration of more modern techniques found i n western l i t e r a r y l 2The Nature, p.235. l^Shu-ning Sciban mentions that Zhang "never seriously discussed any of them [nor] commented on any western l i t e r a r y w r i t i ng techniques" and that therefore "to trace who or which works have influenced her writing i s j u s t l i k e searching for a needle i n a haystack." See "Chang Eileen's Love i n the F a l l e n C i t y , p.52. 13 works. C . T . Hsia mentions "just as [Zhang A i l i n g ] i s absolute ly uninfluenced by the l e f t i s t modes of Chinese f i c t i o n , she is l i t t l e tempted to fol low the dazz l ing fashion of present-day western f i c t i o n — t o pursue, for example, stream of consciousness to the neglect of weightier moral concerns"* 4 and although we have noted that i t i s not exact ly stream of consciousness she uses in her three s t o r i e s , we have seen (and s h a l l explore in greater d e t a i l in Chapters I I , III and IV) tha t , at a l a t e r date, she a c t u a l l y toyed with some of the more recent l i t e r a r y techniques. For now we turn to a s t r u c t u r a l overview of her co l l ec ted short s tor ie s and novel las and the reader's role in some of her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s . 1 4 H s i a , A H i s t o r y , p.397. 14 CHAPTER 1 The Readers Participation in Zhang Ailing's Linear Stories Zhang A i l i n g ' s short s tor i e s and novel las have been c l a s s i f i e d into groups of various k inds . Edward Gunn grouped her s tor i e s into two c lasses : "Those in which an impersonal force in the environment acts out an i n d i v i d u a l ' s fan tas i e s , and those in which an act ive protagonist her s tor i e s into three categories according to t h e i r narrat ive technique (omniscient n a r r a t o r , concealed narrator and the cen tra l inte l l igence)*^ 1 . While these two readers grouped her s tor i e s in r e l a t i o n to the s t o r i e s ' content and the n a r r a t o r ' s p o s i t i o n , I would l i k e , for the purpose of th i s paper to group her s tor i e s (that i s the twenty-five s t o r i e s appearing i n the three anthologies) in to four groups according to t h e i r s t r u c t u r e , a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n which i n some cases is re lated to the n a r r a t o r ' s vo ice . Each group i s again subdivided into two branches. The f i r s t group is character ized by an overt narrator who addresses the implied reader with his own voice and introduces the story he " te l l s" but may not close i t and who disappears wi th in th is s t o r y . In the f i r s t branch, the s tor ie s "Ashes of Descending Incense, F i r s t Braz ier" attempts d i r e c t l y to impose his or her w i l l . "15 Stephen Cheng grouped ) and "Ashes of Descending Incense, Second *^Unwelcome Muse, p . 205. 1 6"Themes and Techniques", p . 189. 15 Brazier ( r£j % ^ "XJj^^ ) are enveloped by the presence of such a narrator, appearing i n the introduction and i n the closing paragraph of the story. To the second branch of this group belong "Jasmine Tea" ($L%\£fLi) and "So Much Hate" ( j | ,)y \tt— ). They are introduced but not concluded by the narrator outside the story. To the second group belong most of her s t o r i e s . The omniscient (and covert) narrator embeds the character into the atmosphere of a story by either a) framing the story with s i m i l a r actions or comments at the beginning and the end of the story ("Blockade" (Jvf̂ jJL ) > "The Golden Cangue" (^J$L*i& ), "Love in the Fa l l e n City ( £ . ) or by b) providing preludes of various lengths to suggest the general mood or atmosphere of the story ("Waiting" { % '), "Lingering Love" (13 ' ^ ) , "Happy Matrimony" \ \ ), "Indian Summer: A Xiao's Antumnal Lament" ( J t ^ f c y & ^h^\\%> ), "Stale Mates" C £ x g ^ ^ ), "Glazed T i l e s " ( ), "The Youthful Years" ( - ^ j^S^ f f lL ), "Genesis" ( i& ) and "The Heart Sutra" (lt£> ). The t h i r d group consists of stories which include anachronics as part of the ov e r a l l narrative structure. To the f i r s t branch belong s t o r i e s whose narrative begin at the end of the story and then revert back to the past to explain how that end came to be. These are "Red Roses and White Roses" ( ),"A Withered Flower" (3£i>)fl ) and "The Interlocking Rings" (^t j l , j f ; ). In the second branch are the three "experimental" s t o r i e s . Their chronology i s di s t o r t e d throughout the narrative and thereby places a greater demand on the reader to piece the story together i n his mind. The fourth group stands somewhat apart as a "miscellaneous" category. It includes on the 16 one hand the movie s c r i p t "The Courting game l i k e a B a t t l e f i e l d " "t^dJ&^fat )» a s t o r y developed chronologically without any i n t e r f e r i n g or atmosphere-creating narrator (other than the cinematographic i n s t r u c t i o n s ) , and on the other hand st o r i e s whose narrator i s part of the story. In "Yin Baoyan Brings Flowers" ^JS^^}^^^j(Ci'^lt^i ) t h e narrator reports the story the main character i s i n the process of t e l l i n g her with a few flashbacks to her own memories of that character. The main character addresses a narrator with the name A i l i n g which could make us assume that the story is a real event although this does not necessarily have to be the case. This i s thus a story which incorporates a few elements of the other groups: a frame story (with a long afterword) a few flashbacks and an implied anachrony: The beginning of the story shows Yin Baoyan t e l l i n g A i l i n g what happened to her in the past. Stephen Cheng maintains that "Days and Nights of China" ( ^ l ^ f e ^ B ^ ) i s n o t a s t o r y , 1 7 and although the narrative does seem more l i k e an essay of some impressions of nature and people, there i s s t i l l a story l i n e (the narrator notices certain things i n her environment on her way home) and a conclusion (the poems that emerged out of these ^.observations). The story unrolls chronologically in i t s small jumps from impression to impression. The s t r u c t u r a l arrangements of the stories in these groups, and the absence or presence of the narrator's voice i n each case support the f i n a l meaning of the story. I w i l l look at a few stories of the f i r s t three 1 7"Themes and Techniques", p. 189. 17 groups. In the twin stories "Ashes of Descending Incense, F i r s t " and "Second Brazier" of the the f i r s t group, the downfall of both Weilong and Roger Empton i s symbolized by mention of the incense slowly burning down i n the prologue and the epilogue which happens while the narrator t e l l s the story to the implied reader. Weilong's incense at the end " w i l l soon be burned down,"1** suggesting her s p i r i t u a l death with her marriage to George. Roger Empton commits suicide at the end of the story,, the incense on the brazier therefore i s already extinct by the end of his narrative. ". . . a t the same time Roger Empton's incense has gradually cooled o f f . The incense has burned down. The f i r e i s extinct and the ashes have cooled o f f . " * 9 i n addition to the symbolic element of incense burning down, the prelude of the narrator and Clementine t a l k i n g about sex-education foreshadows the motif of gossip i n the story (the narrator records the story Clementine told her), the very thing Roger i s harmed by. Also, Clementine's role functions to explain Susie's otherwise inexplicable role i n the story. Both f e e l that, once informed about sex " a l l the beauty [of f a l l i n g i n love] has been destroyed"^. The symbol of the incense i n both s t o r i e s creates less n a r r a t o r i a l distance: the reader knows that he i s about to read a 'sad' story because the narrator herself feels the story i s sad and l e t s the reader know about t h i s . In "Jasmine Tea", a story of the second branch, Zhang adopts the same 1 8Zhang, The Collected Stories, p. 339^ 1 9 I b i d . , p. 382. 2 0 I b i d . , pp. 341, 360. 18 technique for the beginning of the story. The narrator offers the (female) implied reader a hot cup of tea which tastes b i t t e r but has an a t t r a c t i v e aroma at the same time. These contrasting sensations foreshadow the main character's indulgence i n his bit t e r n e s s . "He has been wronged by the world, his vanity l i e s i n his desperate insistence that the world owes him his f a n t a s i e s . " 2 * Chuanqing i s a character p h y s i c a l l y and mentally locked into a p o s i t i o n from which he can see no way out. The story ends with the statement "he could not escape" 2 2 suggesting that his l i f e w i l l go on i n the manner to l d i n the story. The narrator does therefore not close i n his/her own voice but leaves i t open, conveying thereby a sense of Chuanqing's loneliness. The "embedding" comments and descriptions of a covert (or effaced) narrator in the s t o r i e s of the second group may, as for example in "The Golden Cangue" suggest the idea of the never-ending handing down of bitterness from generation to generation. The author uses the image of the moon to support the atmosphere of the gloomy human s i t u a t i o n . Shanghai t h i r t y years ago on a moonlit night . . . the best of moons i s apt to be tinged with sadness. The moon of t h i r t y years ago has gone down long since, and the people of t h i r t y years ago are dead, but the story of t h i r t y years ago i s not yet ended—can have no ending." 2-^ In "Fengsuo", another story of th i s branch, the s i m i l a r words and d e t a i l s at the beginning and the end signal the t r a n s i t i o n into and out of the 2*Gunn, Unwelcome Muse, p. 228. 2 2Zhang, The Collected Stories, p. 278. 23joseph S.M. Lau, C.T. Hsia, and Leo Ou-Fan Lee, eds., Chinese Stories and Novellas (Columbia University Press: New York), pp. 530, 559. 19 psychological state of the characters, that i s , the contrast between the dreary routine of everyday l i f e and the fantasies the two main characters indulge in during the blockade. Stories i n the second branch of this group have preludes of varying length and even though some of them seem to s t a r t with descriptions of the characters' actions ("Indian Summer") or t h e i r spoken words ("The Heart Sutra"), the narrator immediately afterwards provides lengthy s i t u a t i o n a l explications and character descriptions. As an example of a story from the t h i r d group, in "Red and White Roses" the structure of the story, by the systematic introduction of Chenbao's l i f e i n the present time before the narrative retreats ten years into the past, r e f l e c t s Chenbao's orderly mind and his desire to project the appearance of a responsible c i t i z e n . The language of the f i r s t part of the story.adopts an i r o n i c tone, indic a t i n g to the reader from the beginning that Chenbao's judgements are f a u l t y . 2 4 We have already dealt with the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the three experimental s t o r i e s i n the introduction; i t i s , however, s i g n i f i c a n t that in a l l the s t o r i e s of this group, that i s , i n both the f i r s t and the second branch, the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c anachronics give a d i r e c t impression of the characters' minds i n their present s i t u a t i o n and this either p r i o r to the past ( f i r s t branch) or interchangeably with the past (the experimental stories in the second branch). In his study of "The Interlocking Rings" Tang Wenbiao states that the technique of writing a short summary at the beginning of this story and i n 2 4Brown, "E i l e e n Chang's Red Rose and White Rose", p. 78. 20 f a c t the summaries acting as interludes before each new " r i n g " , reminds one of the t r a d i t i o n a l ^ Xf)technique of story t e l l i n g i n Chinese novels, i n which each chapter i s headed by a couplet giving the g i s t of i t s content. 25 A t r a d i t i o n a l influence on Zhang A i l i n g ' s s t o r i e s i s also r e c a l l e d in her use of the opening and closing paragraphs i n the f i r s t group and the f i r s t branch of the second group, paragraphs which are " s i m i l a r , in some ways to prologues and epilogues [ i n t r a d i t i o n a l hua-ben ) s t o r i e s ] to convey certain information related to, but not an i n t e g r a l part of the narrative proper."26 The influence of the Classic Chinese novels on Zhang A i l i n g ' s work i n terms of language, physical descriptions of characters, setting and objects, and the portrayal of characters has been shown to be very strong and mostly related to Dream of the Red Chamber. 2 7 Despite some of the technical differences we have noted to exist between the author's conventional and experimental s t o r i e s , we can assert that the characters i n both story types remain very Chinese as a result of the author's in-depth knowledge of many of the Chinese c l a s s i c s . 2 8 C.T. Hsia's following comment thus applies to both of Zhang Ai l i n g ' s story types: 2^Tang, Researching, p. 76. 2 6 A d k i n s , "The Short Stories of Chang A i - l i n g , " p. 7. 2 7 S e e Hsia, A History, p. 396 and Sciban, " E i l e e n Chang's Love i n the F a l l e n C i t y " , p. 55. 2 8See, for a l i s t of these, Sciban's Thesis, p. 53. 21 The characters in Romances [an e a r l i e r and shorter e d i t i o n of The Collected Stories] are s o l i d l y and in some instances f r i g h t e n i n g l y Chinese; they are therefore s o l i d l y and fr i g h t e n i n g l y r e a l . While she i s primarily concerned with the world of her contemporaries, her study of Chinese f i c t i o n has led her to stress the strong persistence of t r a d i t i o n a l s e n s i b i l i t y even i n an apparently uprooted and cosmopolitan set. S e n s i b i l i t y evolves slowly, old manners die hard even during a period of unprecedented technological and economical change.29 Furthermore, the combination of the author's thorough knowledge of both Chinese l i t e r a r y works and her indebtness "to Freud and western novelists for the psychological s o p h i s t i c a t i o n and metaphorical enrichment of her s t o r i e s " - ^ result i n s t o r i e s which have the i r emphasis on character study. "Many modern heroes win our allegiance because their aesthetic s e n s i b i l i t i e s w i l l not be denied, or because they l i v e l i f e to the h i l t , 7 or simply because they are victims of th e i r surroundings."31 This i s c e r t a i n l y true of her short s t o r i e s and novellas. In these stories there i s " l i t t l e e f f o r t to engage our feelings strongly for or against one or more characters on the basis of their moral or i n t e l l e c t u a l t r a i t s . Instead the value of ' s e n s i b i l i t y ' has been placed at the core of things; those characters who, . . ., have a highly developed s e n s i b i l i t y are sympathetic; the ' v i l l a i n s ' are those who are i n s e n s i t i v e . " - ^ Examples of such characters are Cao Qiqiao i n "The Golden Cangue", Roger Empton i n 29risia, The History, p. 397. 3 0 I b i d . 3lBooth, The Rhetoric of F i c t i o n , p. 132. 32Booth on V i r g i n i a Woolf's 'novel of s e n s i b i l i t y ' i n The Rhetoric of F i c t i o n , p. 143. 22 "Ashes of Descending Incense, F i r s t Brazier" and others, as victims of th e i r surroundings. Mrs. Xi in "Waiting" has our sympathy because of her s e n s i b i l i t y we recognize through the many inside views we have of her (while the inside views of the other characters are purposely withheld to make them less s e n s i t i v e ) . As a ' v i l l a i n ' we can for example single out George i n "Ashes of Descending Incense, Second Brazier" for his lack of s e n s i t i v i t y toward Weilong. Having looked at a s t r u c t u r a l overview of Zhang A i l i n g ' s short st o r i e s and novellas, and the i r underlying focus, we now turn to the reader's p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n some of them. Techniques that engender the reader's contribution may appear both i n her l i n e a r and her experimental work. The difference between the two types, however, is that Zhang uses such techniques as a major s t r u c t u r a l device i n the l a t t e r s t o r i e s , devices which in turn contribute to the meaning of the story, whereas her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s may only contain frac t i o n s of such techniques. The author has for example used the technique of flashback in "The Golden Cangue" (Qiqiao remembers her younger days i n her father's sesame o i l shop). This flashback i s tagged by the narrator, i n d i c a t i n g to the reader that Qiqiao i s thinking about the past. ("The things of the past came back a g a i n " 3 3 ) , i n t n e experimental s t o r i e s there are no such indications, the character's perception of something i n the present time may act as a springboard to a memory i n the past. In "Lust and Abstinence" for 3 3Zhang, The Collected Stories, p. 168. 23 example, J i a z h i s i t s in the coffee house waiting for Mr. Y i . She sees the man observing her across the table who probably t r i e s to make out whether she i s an actress. The narrative jumps without a tag to her memory "She had a c t u a l l y performed i n plays" (p. 24). The reader's contribution can consist i n supplying a piece of information which was l e f t unmentioned. In "Lust and Abstinence" for example J i a z h i h a i l s a pedicab (p. 21), the narrative diverts to her thoughts and a short flashback, and on the next page the information i s given that she has been s i t t i n g i n the pedicab while thinking about the past'("It took a while to drive to the public concession." (p. 2 2 ) . She is not mentioned entering the pedicab, in the reader's mind she could have been standing by the side of the street waiting for the pedicab to a r r i v e . When the above information is f i n a l l y given, the reader has to rearrange the sequential information after the actual and implied event of mounting.the cab. 3^ The reader's contribution i n this example i s d i f f e r e n t from such temporal indications as "After the dinner" ("Happy Reunion", p. 99) or "When the movie ended" 3^ which make clear that the narrative has skipped over an (unimportant) action i n the story and which the reader therefore f i l l s i n as he/she reads along. 3/*In the second story, "Flowers and P i s t i l s " there i s a similar example: the reader does not receive the s p e c i f i c information that the boat, which Luozhen has boarded as the story opens, has started i t s journey. It i s only toward the end of the narrative that we learn the boat has been s a i l i n g for a while "This boat took ten days from Hong Kong to Japan turning l e f t and turning r i g h t , . . ." (p. 76). These examples show that i n these s t o r i e s the characters' thoughts t y p i c a l l y p r e v a i l over the outside action. 3 5"So Much Hate," The Sense of Loss, p. 118. 24 In some of Zhang A i l i n g ' s l i n e a r s t o r i e s , the demand for the reader's contribution i s b u i l t into the plot of the story and can be as challenging as finding one's way in an anachronic narrative. These can be supplying a c r u c i a l action purposely obscured or omitted from the story and evaluating the main character's personality ("Ashes of Descending Incense, Second B r a z i e r " ) , entering the mind of a disturbed character ("Jasmine Tea") or following a double l i n e of action ("So Much Hate"). In "Ashes of Descending Incense, Second Brazier" the reader has to evaluate Roger Empton's psychological health ( i s he a sexual pervert or not) and the attitude of his bride, Susie M i t c h e l l ( i s she the victim of a sexual attack or not, i s she genuine in her love for Roger, or i s she ca l c u l a t i n g , e s p e c i a l l y on the evening of the second day when she f a i l s to t e l l him about her a c t i v i t i e s on that day, the outcome of which w i l l eventually ruin him). Throughout the story the reader i s given information about Roger Empton's personality i n the form of comments by the narrator and thoughts i n Roger's mind both of which could make the accusations of the people around him almost legitimate. At the same time, however, enough information about Roger's actions and thoughts are revealed at c r u c i a l moments to bring the reader onto his side and understand that he i s a sensible man in the midst of a h y s t e r i c a l crowd. His personality Is described as a bi t restrained and overly law abiding. "He was an Englishman and always f e l t that any revelation of fe e l i n g s , unless i t was absolutely necessary, was superfluous. He was af r a i d of genuine, f l e s h and blood l i f e . Unfortunately people were a l i v e but the 25 less this was mentioned the better" (p. 345). 3^ His reputation as a correct and upright person gives r i s e to a l l kinds of speculations after a frightened Susie has woken up the men's dormitory i n the middle of the night. "The more they pose for high morals, the more undisciplined t h e i r personal l i v e s i s . I always f e l t that Empton was too d i s c i p l i n e d , h e ' l l probably become a pervert " (p. 357). His own passionate thoughts about his future wife on the morning of his wedding could give hints of a man not in complete control of himself, thoughts, however, which for a man i n love are only to be expected and would not arouse any suspicion in the reader i f the incident with Susie were not to take place. "He was . . . p i t i f u l to love her so uncontrollably. When they were together he was always a f r a i d he would do some f o o l i s h un-English thing, maybe cry, or kiss her hands and her feet" (p. 350). The reader nevertheless, does not doubt the main character's psychological health; Roger's reactions to a l l the events happening during these few days correspond to those of a sensible person. The reader understands his ' s e l f i s h ' feelings when he does not want to l i s t e n to other people's problems on his wedding day (Susie's s i s t e r M i l l i c e n t ' s and Mrs. M i t c h e l l ' s ) ; he wants other people to be excited and happy. Eventually the reader knows Roger is the only sensible person, and not a sexual pervert, amidst a gossip-hungry crowd of small-minded people, because we follow his thoughts as he t r i e s to make sense of what happened. "He took the picture frame i n both hands and kissed her face. Between them was only the i c e - c o l d glass pane. No, i t was not the glass, his burning l i p s were separating them. . . . But then, 3 6A11 page indications of the s t o r i e s i n this chapter refer to The Collected Stories. 26 was he not right? No, no, there was something else . . . when he went back to bed, i t struck him l i k e a thunderbolt, he rea l i z e d something: a c t u a l l y M i l l i c e n t ' s husband was a very normal man!" (p. 361). The fact that the reader gets an inside view of his mind and sees that he r e a l l y cares about Susie (he worries about her well-being when she runs off on t h e i r wedding night) shows that he would not think of harming her. The reader hopes that everything w i l l work out for Roger i f he and Susie can only leave on t h e i r honeymoon to Hawaii, even though Roger does not know a l l the things that have happened behind his back ever since she ran o f f . A few times the reader wants to poke Roger to help him straighten out the s i t u a t i o n . Roger i s too shocked by the news Dean Bach brings him on the second evening (Mrs. M i t c h e l l and her daughters went to a l l t h e i r r e l a t i v e s and his collegues to spread the 'awful news') that he feels he cannot explain the huge misunderstanding that has taken place. By repeatedly bidding Dean Bach goodbye at the end of the v i s i t without reponding to his v i s i t o r ' s attempts to clear the s i t u a t i o n , he has l o s t his only a l l y . Now i s o l a t e d from everybody, he becomes confused and overly s e n s i t i v e to human touch i n his fear of appearing suspicious, which i n fact makes him more so. On top of that some people are exploiting his reputation as an overly sexual man (women f e e l a t t r a c t e d , men take t h e i r revenge for previous disputes). By that time, however, the reader i s already fir m l y on Roger Empton's side and fears the attacks on him as much as he does. "She was walking behind Roger, when he suddenly f e l t as i f a hand were tapping twice on his shoulder. He was f i l l e d with disgust, his whole body shuddered. He turned his head around to look and saw that i t a c t u a l l y was not her hand but the moss green scarf wound around her neck 27 that was f l u t t e r i n g in the wind and h i t t i n g his shoulder a few times" (p. 377). When a few moments l a t e r Dolinda does put her hand on his shoulder "because she has d i f f i c u l t y walking on her high heels i n the dark" he thinks i t i s her scarf. As soon as he r e a l i z e s the truth he hastens to place her hand on another woman's shoulder to give Dolinda the "support" she needs. Two sides of Susie M i t c h e l l ' s personality appear: c h i l d l i k e and coquettish toward Roger, and decisive and i n charge of the events around her when she feels wronged. These attitudes seem natural for the person she i s described to be but appear incoherent in the sequence of the story's events. Why does she not t e l l Roger what happened that afternoon at school? (She went to see both the Dean and the Headmaster to ask them to get in touch with a lawyer to f i l e for divorce, and got the whole campus gossiping). Does she not r e a l i z e the seriousness of her actions? Does she go back with Roger the second evening because her love for him i s stronger than her fear of his 'animal nature'? Her actions and the narrator's comments seem to point to her genuineness ("Susie leaned her head on his arm and said with a small voice 'Hawaii' . . ." (p. 305)), but when Roger returns from downstairs, where Dean Bach told him of her a c t i v i t i e s that afternoon, to the bedroom where Susie packs her clothes fo r the up-coming honeymoon t r i p to Hawaii, her actions seem inconsistent. Roger at that point knows about a l l the a c t i v i t i e s of the l a s t twenty-four hours, and while he n a t u r a l l y i s f i l l e d with anger, she innocently believes that he wants to kiss her just as he did before he l e f t the room. In l i g h t of his knowledge of her actions during that day, 28 her coquettish attitude now seems ludicrous. "She in c l i n e d her head s l i g h t l y , to the side, yawned, almost closing her blue eyelids and sa i d : 'I want to go to bed. Now you can kiss me, but only once!" (p. 372). Susie's transformation gives the sense of a s i n i s t e r conspiracy that seems to have taken place between mother and daughter that afternoon, the event omitted from the story and the result of which i s Susie's strange behaviour. Has her mother manipulated her to go back with Roger to, with the news, and the eff e c t s of th e i r a c t i v i t i e s during that day eventually reaching him, destroy him? The real ' v i l l a i n ' i n the story thus i s Mrs. M i t c h e l l (she i s not a far cry from Cao Qiqiao i n "The Golden Cangue"), r e s t r i c t i n g any natural sexual a c t i v i t y around her by keeping her daughters overly sheltered and uninformed about the r e a l i t i e s of sex. Mrs. M i t c h e l l i s elusive: on the outside she appears f r i e n d l y and supportive of her daughter's marriage though a bi t mysterious (twice she wishes Roger good luck, comments which unsettle him). Her extremely sheltering presence toward her daughters i s only hinted at by other characters, but none of them reveal ( M i l l i c e n t ) or know of (Roger Empton) the extent of her s t r i c t education, only Roger and the reader see the devastating e f f e c t s . Whereas at the beginning of the story Roger thinks he i s a ' f o o l ' marrying such a young and naive woman, he does not know into what deadly trap he has placed himself. Already before he is married to Susie he i s caught i n the atmosphere of madness that surrounds the three women. He y e l l s at M i l l i c e n t : "Even though I am a most normal man you would manage to drive me to madness!" (p. 349). Susie thus proves to be completely innocent but manipulated by her 29 mother. Her m a l l e a b i l i t y i s evoked i n the symbolic transformations she undergoes during t h e i r wedding. In the church Roger sees her slowly coming towards him. "When she walked past a rose-red window she changed to rose-red; when she walked past a blue window, she changed to blue; and when she passed a yellow-golden window, she and her hair seemed to be ablaze." (p. 352). Because of the de l i c a t e subject of sex in the s o c i a l environment of a white middle class l i v i n g i n Hong Kong, the gossip tends to spread faster and be more malignant. Nobody questions Susie's i n t e g r i t y , e s p e c i a l l y since she happened to walk into the men's dormitory at night and the students are more l i k e l y to take p i t y on a beautiful young woman who seems obviously shaken, than to find out the real reasons for her behaviour. The elusive, unspoken element of sex appears i n the story here and there in a hush, surrounding the characters l i k e some i n v i s i b l e presence. The element of wind in the form of fans, clothes f l u t t e r i n g in the wind or just the impression of gusts of wind supports the impression of an intangible threat. "Mrs. M i t c h e l l sat down next to him and asked slowly: "What were you and M i l l i c e n t t a l k i n g about?" Roger took the napkin to wipe his mouth, he answered" 'About her husband.' As soon as he had uttered these words, a gust of dark wind seemed to blow through the room, Mrs. M i t c h e l l did not talk for a while." (p.350). In the story "Jasmine Tea" the reader's p a r t i c i p a t i o n i s also that of evaluating a character's personality, i n this case that of the secondary character; but, more importantly, i t involves entering the main character's mind and following a narrative'which, for the most part 30 focuses on the thoughts of an introverted adolescent. There i s no question about the personality of the main character, Nie Chuanqing. A l l in d i c a t i o n s for the reader to understand his outlook on l i f e — d i s t o r t e d by his resultant bitterness about his unhappy family l i f e — a r e given in the narr a t i v e . The repeated discouraging comments by his father and stepmother have made him a ph y s i c a l l y and mentally immature teenager. Indications about his s i t u a t i o n are given both by the narrator and Chuanqing himself, he knows how things stand with him. He reasons: "He had l i v e d with his father for twenty years and had already been made into a mental crippl e so that even i f his father gave him freedom, he could not escape" (p. 264). The reader follows Chuanqing's thoughts in passages placed between the present action. He thinks about the present (the more he i d o l i z e s his teacher Yan Ziye, the more he hates his daughter Yan Danzhu) and about a hypothetical past which leads into a hypothetical present (he imagines that i f his deceased mother, Feng Biluo had married Yan Ziye, his whole l i f e would have been d i f f e r e n t . ) He reconstructs the past through the bits and pieces of information he has gathered about his late mother and ruminates about i t so many times that certain passages momentarily become the present losing t h e i r apearance of imagined past. One such p a r t i c u l a r example i s exactly the moment which would have been so decisive for his mother's future and ultimately his existence. The Yans found somebody to act as a matchmaker. Biluo's mother did not say anything. But a former concubine of her grandfather, s i t t i n g at the side smoking opium, giggled and chipped i n : 'It i s much to early to talk about that now!' The matchmaker said: 'But Miss Biluo i s not so young anymore—' The old concubine s a i d : ' I am not talking about her age! No 31 matter how good the Yan's from Changshu are, they're s t i l l a merchant family. If t h e i r young master was a scholar who got on and they came to propose marriage a f t e r two or three more generations, then we might have something to discuss. But now . . . i t i s much too early!' The matchmaker saw that nothing could be done about i t and went back to the Yan's. (p. 262). These decisions were made before Chuanqing's time, but the conversation gives the impression of him as an onlooker. The reader has to evaluate the personality of Yan Danzhu, his classmate, to see whether she i s as kind and f r i e n d l y as she appears on the surface, or whether she i s s a t i s f y i n g her vanity by trying to win Chuanqing for her s e l f , to have him court her l i k e so many other boys do in her school.. The narrative provides instances which could make the reader believe she has s e l f i s h reasons in showing him friendship. She said smiling: 'The day before yesterday I t o l d you about the l e t t e r Dequan wrote me, please forget about i t . Pretend 1 never t o l d you.' Chuanqing asked: 'Why?' Danzhu sai d : 'Why? . . . But i t ' s obvious! I should not t e l l people these things. I'm too c h i l d l i k e , I can't keep anything to myself!' Chuanqing leaned forward pressing both arms on his knees, he smiled. Danzhu also leaned forward and moved closer toward him. She asked in a serious voice: 'Chuanqing, you did not misunderstand my meaning, did you? If I'm t e l l i n g you this i t i s not to brag about i t - I have to t e l l to people, because some things are too p a i n f u l to keep inside. . . ' (p. 254-255). Even though she t e l l s him she i s not bragging about her popularity at school, her very insistence that he not misunderstand her intention could reveal that she a c t u a l l y is_ t r y i n g to make him jealous. In the sharp contrast between both characters her personality seems overly outgoing and compassionate, but, from the story's point of view, reasonable. Her 32 openness sets off Chuanqing's suffering to simultaneously increase his pain by the r e a l i z a t i o n of his unhappiness and his jealousy and to give a sense of his d i s t o r t e d view. For example, he i s aware of the harmonious family she l i v e s i n , compared to his abusive and unhealthy family surroundings. Imagining himself in her po s i t i o n he thinks, "A c h i l d that l i v e d i n a family with love, no matter how unstable th e i r l i v e s were, would s t i l l be f u l l of self-confidence and compassion—as well as be vigorous, enterprising and courageous. He probably would have a l l of Danzhu's q u a l i t i e s and those that she did not have he would have too" (pp. 2 6 6 - 2 6 7 ) . The narrator c l e a r l y presents one image of her and sets off Chuanqing's dis t o r t e d view against i t . "Her l i v e l y face and the golden colour of her skin were set off by the white gauze of her jacket, l i k e some g l i s t e n i n g amber-coloured wine in a glass. But in Chuanqing's eyes she did not merely evoke an aesthetic f e e l i n g of purity" (p. 2 6 4 ) . Chuanqing's s i c k l y appearance as an e x t e r i o r i z a t i o n of his inner pain is even more obvious with the impression of her health around him. His physical appearance signals his feelings of inadequacy. "Chuanqing i n c l i n e d his head lower and lower u n t i l i t almost reached the f l o o r " (p. 2 5 8 ) . She wants to draw him out by showering her friendship on him, but he wants to reduce her to his l e v e l of pain. When he h i t s Danzhu on t h e i r walk at night he pushes her head down, forcing her into a similar posture as his own. "With one hand he grasped her shoulder, with the other hand he pressed her head down with a l l his might, as i f he wanted to press her head back into her chest. She should never have been born into this world, he wanted her to go back" (p. 277). After he has beaten her to the point that she l i e s crouched on the f l o o r , he runs away and thinks "For 33 that short instance, t h e i r hearts were i n t e r l i n k e d " (p. 278). He feels that they have reached the same l e v e l of pain, and although she i s ph y s i c a l l y hurt, i n r e a l i t y the difference between them remains, he cannot take away her happiness. Again the reader i s i n c l i n e d to want to poke the main character to help him straighten out the s i t u a t i o n . The reader f e e l s that Chuanqing's l o t would be easier to endure i f only he would confide i n somebody. Yan Danzhu offers to help him clear up things between him and her father, but his mental state has worsened to the point that he can see no other outlook than his own, he has lost a l l sense of perspective. " ' T e l l Danzhu? T e l l Yan Ziye? Did he s t i l l remember Feng Biluo?' . . . Chuanqing only f e l t the pent up i n j u s t i c e he could not get off his chest. Danzhu drew closer again, she asked: 'Chuanqing, do you have trouble at home?' Chuanqing laughed f l a t l y : 'You're too fond of minding other people's business!'" (p. 2 7 2 ) . Yan Danzhu thus turns out to be genuine i n her attitude toward Chuanqing, she r e a l l y wants to be his f r i e n d . Even i f there is a small amount of vanity i n her (in his desperation to fi n d someone to love and understand him, he t e l l s her that he loves her. Thereupon she thinks "Even this eccentric person loved h e r — t h i s s a t i s f i e d her vanity. Danzhu was a good woman, but aft e r a l l she was a woman." (pp. 276-277)), i t does not outweigh her sincere e f f o r t s to include Chuanqing i n the group. Her a b i l i t y to make friends gives her the slack to try to help Chuanqing, the very thing that makes him angry. In his anger he mistakes her genuine need to infuse him with some of her overflowing happiness to be that of "brushing . . . bread crumbs from the table to feed the dog" because she 34 "has too much of i t " (p. 273). "So Much Hate" i s a lin e a r story u n r o l l i n g on two lin e s of action. The l i n e of the older generation, represented by J i a y i n ' s father (Old Mister Yu) and the Amah i n the Xia household, runs p a r a l l e l to the line of the younger generation, that of J i a y i n and Xia Zongyu, and sometimes meets i t . The actions of the older generation's l i n e happen behind the back of the younger generation and therefore behind their l i n e of action. This technique i s consistently used throughout the narrative and points to the theme of the generation clash (as well as to the clash of country versus c i t y dwellers) i n the story. The two l i n e s converge each time Jiayin's father meets Zongyu, his opposite member in the younger generation. They meet and int e r a c t three times i n the narrative, each time Zongyu's attitude toward the old man changes markedly, while Old Yu himself stays the same throughout the story. Zongyu changes from politeness on t h e i r f i r s t meeting, to restrained impatience on the second (Old Mister Yu v i s i t s Zongyu early i n the morning to borrow some money) and to open anger on the th i r d meeting. Zongyu on that occasion expels him from the factory for breaking the trust of the Company, and never wants to see him p r i v a t e l y again due to his ind i s c r e e t and overly f a m i l i a r attitude toward him. The characters' "true i d e n t i t y " i n this story i s clear from the beginning, the reader i s quickly on the side of the younger generation and although he can understand why the older people act the way they do, the reader wants the happiness of the couple and completely rejects the attitude of the older generation. Both these characters are disagreeable because, as mentioned above, they stay the same throughout the story ( f l a t 35 characters) i n t h e i r extreme frame of minds. The Amah is presented as a narrow-mined, gossipy and suspicious woman from the countryside, the old man wants to organize his daughter's l i f e out of "goodwill" but also out of opportunism and greed. He finds himself completely j u s t i f i e d in his r o l e , p artly because of his status as father and senior, and partly because he has become s e n i l e , a fact which also contributes to his i n s e n s i t i v i t y toward his daughter. On the other hand, the two young people are both seen in various kinds of emotions (round characters). The reader is w i l l i n g to excuse th e i r v o l a t i l e attitudes ( J i a y i n shows no forgiveness towards her father for having divorced her mother and having remarried, and Zongyu has violent outbursts toward his wife who has arrived from the country side) , because a l l the reader wants is to bring these two apparently well matched people to a happy u n i o n . 3 7 Actions that happen behind a character's back (for example Susie in "Ashes of Descending Incense, Second Brazier" taking refuge in the student's dormitory and looking up the Dean and the Vice-president the next day, and in this story J i a y i n ' s father giving the piece of fabric to the landlady so that she would spy on his daughter) have the same time in the story repeated with the "unknowing" character l a t e r in the narrative. The narrative goes back in time, u n r o l l i n g the p a r t i c u l a r moment from a d i f f e r e n t perspective. While s t o r i e s , however, may have the same features 3 7 I t should be mentioned that in a short introduction to this story the author notes that she fashioned "So Much Hate" after popular novels, so-called "non-books". The characters therefore are simpler, that i s , they have a less subtle inner l i f e and can be more e a s i l y divided into 'good' and 'bad' characters. That i s the reason why the reader i s so quickly on the side of the two 'beautiful young people' i n his hope for t h e i r happiness. 36 with s i m i l a r s i g n i f i c a n c e , their proportion in the plot may d i f f e r , according to the effect sought. In both "Second Burning" and "So Much Hate" the r e p e t i t i o n of narrated time shows one character completing actions without the knowledge of the second character and thereby creating an irony. In "Second Burning" Roger Empton spends the day thinking and worrying about Susie, completely unaware of the scandal building around him; i n "So Much Hate" J i a y i n spends the evening with Zongyu in a restaurant and a movie theatre, equally unaware of her father's secret a c t i v i t i e s . In the f i r s t story the effects of the double action are much more far reaching, not only in the time the action takes but also in the devastating repercussions on Roger's reputation that eventually w i l l lead him to his death. In "So Much Hate" the double action i s shorter and shows one of her father's many schemes, but there i s a sense of continuity to i t and p a r a l l e l thoughts permeate the story. Old Mr. Yu's other covert moves happen consecutively between the actions of J i a y i n and Zongyu. The reason for the temporal r e p e t i t i o n in the narrative of this p a r t i c u l a r t a c t i c though, i s because the result of i t w i l l f i n a l l y bring him to meet Zongyu, and thereby accelerate J i a y i n ' s and Zongyu's separation. The couple i s not to consume their love, the reader's hopes are disappointed. It i s ultimately the father's presence and his pushy a t t i t u d e , as well as J i a y i n ' s own attitude towards divorce and the present model of her father that makes her decide to leave Shanghai and Zongyu. This time the reader wants to poke the main character not only to clear the matter by t e l l i n g Zongyu her real reasons for leaving the c i t y but also by making her change her mind about divorce. The reader wants her happiness even though he can understand her dilemma. 37 It i s the demand for the reader's involvement which brings these three s t o r i e s close to the experimental s t o r i e s . "Second Brazier" i s s i m i l a r to "Lust and Abstinence" i n i t s manipulation of the reader, in both cases this i s due to the element of secrecy involved i n the p l o t s . In the l i n e a r story the manipulation i s achieved by giving the reader two kinds of information about the main character without, however, confusing the reader to the point of leaving the character's real personality ambiguous. Because the story i s developed i n a l i n e a r fashion and has a strong narrative presence (to supply "adorning" comments and elaborations around the action), the narrative achieves the necessary sense of secrecy (and possible ambiguity as to the personality of the secondary character) by omitting a scene, the events of which the reader has to supply. In "Lust and Abstinence", suspense i s achieved by retarding the disclosure of information with the flashbacks, but more importantly by constructing the narrative i n such a w a y that i t unrolls for the most part i n the main character's mind and the reader therefore i s manipulated into assuming d i f f e r e n t truths about the characters at d i f f e r e n t times. "Jasmine Tea" i s the one^ li n e a r story which comes closest to the experimental s t o r i e s , i n that large parts of the narrative report the main character's thoughts and the reader i n this case can follow the development of the character's d i s t o r t e d thoughts. This story i s p a r t i c u l a r l y close to "Lust and Abstinence" because i n both the main character thinks about a hypothetical time. To J i a z h i the hypothetical future i s of importance, i t determines whether the man she loves w i l l be k i l l e d , to Chuanging i n "Jasmine Tea" thoughts about the hypothetical past and present give him the p o s s i b i l i t y 38 of imagining what his l i f e would be have been i f his mother had married Yan Ziye. The l a s t of the three s t o r i e s we looked into i s the least complex, the li n e s of action of each character are clear; but, because various characters do d i f f e r e n t things at very close i n t e r v a l s (while J i a y i n and Zongyu try to figure out t h e i r future, the Amah goes off to the countryside to fetch Zongyu's wife, the old man wants to make a concubine out of his daughter, who herself i n turn i s making plans to leave Shanghai), the reader has to think along these various l i n e s of actions and i n p a r t i c u l a r on the l i n e of the older generation behind the l i n e of the younger generation. As we have noted i n the course of the discussion, i n a l l three l i n e a r s t o r i e s there were moments where the reader wanted to "poke" the main character to help him or her straighten out the s i t u a t i o n . This phenomenon, however, i s of course not limited to these three stories i n which, as we have seen, the reader i s asked to p a r t i c i p a t e . In "The Golden Cangue" for example, there are a few instances when the reader wants to intervene to mitigate Cao Qiqiao's or her daughter Changan's agony. This i s , I would assume, one of the basic kinds of p a r t i c i p a t i o n the reader i s manipulated into, one which keeps the reader's i n t e r e s t . It also seems that this kind of. p a r t i c i p a t i o n would be more c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of a dynamic rather than of a s t a t i c p l o t . "Lust and Abstinence" being the most s i m i l a r to Zhang A i l i n g ' s l i n e a r s t o r i e s i n terms of the narrator's presence and the dynamism of the p l o t , could involve a few of these moments. When J i a z h i r e a l i z e s she loves Mr. Y i , the reader may t h e o r e t i c a l l y wish she would t e l l him everything about her spying history 39 and she would become his " r e a l " mistress. This, i s not so, however, because the reader i s always only partly informed about events and about, for example, Mr. Yi's personality. When the reader thus, as i n the linear s t o r i e s , receives an early o v e r a l l impression of the s i t u a t i o n and of the characters' p e r s o n a l i t i e s , he i s more l i k e l y to be able to want to guide the character he i s s i d i n g with i n the right d i r e c t i o n . Also in the other two experimental s t o r i e s the reader at no point i s enticed into wanting to help the characters. The reader in these s t o r i e s lags, l i k e the narrator, one step behind the action and i f there i s to be some kind of helping hand, i t i s the character who i s helping the reader to understand her gradually as the story progresses. 40 CHAPTER 2 "Lust and Abstinence": An Anxious Mind Of Zhang A i l i n g ' s three experimental stories "Lust and Abstinence" bears most s i m i l a r i t i e s to her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s i n that i t s imagery, symbolism and comments by the omnisicent narrator a l l point to the f i n a l meaning to form an a r t i s t i c whole. The difference l i e s i n the d i s t o r t i o n of the temporal order the author uses as a technical device to give the story a sense of mystery. More importantly though, the difference l i e s i n placing the bulk of the narrative into the main character's mind, thereby enabling the reader to follow J i a z h i ' s thoughts and observe the gradual change she undergoes from p a s s i v i t y to a position of control over the events of her immediate surroundings. Her thoughts move between the present as she r e f l e c t s on external events, the past in her memories, and the approaching (hypothetical) future. The chronological d i s t o r t i o n s are created through the interplay of these various times, whereby the memories of the past provide the reader with important background information as to the development of the past events related to the present without which the reader would not be able to understand the c o r r e l a t i o n to the present action. The information of the past (cause) often appears a f t e r the events i n the present time ( e f f e c t ) , requiring of the reader to place the events into t h e i r proper order. The " s c a t t e r i n g " of the material i n this story therefore l i e s more i n the d i s t o r t i o n of the chronological order than i n i t s content. The present action of the narrative takes place between three o'clock 41 i n the afternoon to around midnight of the same day during which a great deal happens: a man i s almost assasinated, a road block stops the a c t i v i t i e s of a c i t y for some time and a whole group of underground workers i s arrested and executed. Because of the general atmosphere of war and the secrecy of the spying a c t i v i t i e s , on the surface pretense i s kept as i f nothing were happening or nothing has happened. The incidents of these few hours would be important for a plot of s o c i a l realism r e l a t i n g a story of intrigue and plotted assasination; they are not important, however, for the type of psychological realism the author wants to construct: a narrative turned inwards, with the minds of the characters opened at various times to reveal t h e i r attitudes on the d i f f e r e n t " l e v e l s of r e a l i t y " according to how much they know of the secret a c t i v i t i e s . These actions therefore, that i s , the blockade and the arrest of the gang, are not developed as actions i n the story but are i n f e r r e d , reported offhand by another character (at the end of the story Mr. Yi remembers the events of the l a s t few hours). The actions the reader experiences at the same time as the characters (for example buying the ring in the jewellery store) give a more immediate impression than the actions reported at a l a t e r date through memory and therefore also coincide with n a r r a t i v e l y decisive scenes i n terms of revealing the characters' a t t i t u d e toward the action. There i s a d i s t i n c t i o n between a past i n r e l a t i o n to the present time of the story, that i s , anything that happens prior to where the narrative opens at the mahjiang table and occurs i n form of memories (Jiazhi i n Hong Kong) or report (Mrs. Y i t e l l i n g the other women that Mrs. Liao had a party "yesterday"), and a past occurring within the brackets of the 42 present action-time (Mr. Yi remembers the events of the afternoon). The past p r i o r to the present action-time reaches back to about two years with some glimpses to even e a r l i e r times (there i s mention of J i a z h i as a c h i l d and of her early teens, which must be about f i v e years e a r l i e r than the beginning of the past action-time of her memories). The future extends beyond the boundaries of the story In a time span of not more than a few days: J i a z h i plans to l i v e with her cousin on Yu Yuan Street for a while to see how things w i l l develop; Mr. Yi plans to have the curtains i n his home taken down. Before we continue to look into the various times and t h e i r i n t e r r e l a t i o n s we need to di s t i n g u i s h the parts of the story which w i l l give us s t r u c t u r a l clues. The story has four parts that are determined by th e i r locations and the actions in the present time of the narrative, each part providing the background decor toward the denouement of the story. The f i r s t and the last part both take place i n Mr. and Mrs. Yi's house under very s i m i l a r circumstances (mahjiang game) and thus s t r u c t u r a l l y have a framing e f f e c t . Whereas the f i r s t part serves to lead into the suspense of what w i l l follow, the l a s t part helps to set off the secrecy of the spying a c t i v i t i e s of that afternoon, with the ignorance of the women at the mahjiang table i n that regard. Their talk i n this part now seems f r i v o l o u s and too sel f important. "'Mr. Y i , i n v i t e , i n v i t e ! ' The three women dressed i n black cloaks were getting louder and f i e r c e r , a l l t a l k i n g at the same time" (p. 43). The second part focuses on J i a z h i as she makes a phonecall i n one coffee-house and then drives to another to wait for Mr. Y i . This part serves to provide the necessary background 43 that led to her present s i t u a t i o n as the reader, follows her thoughts. The t h i r d part which includes the climax and the turning point of the story, takes place i n the car on the way to the jewellery store and in the store i t s e l f . It shows J i a z h i and Mr. Yi i n i n t e r a c t i o n and reveals the core of t h e i r r e l a tionship against the background of J i a z h i ' s changing attitude toward Mr. Yi and her mission. The l a s t part then, v i s u a l l y separated by the preceding parts, has not only the function mentioned above, but also completes the narration through the mind of Mr. Yi now that J i a z h i i s not present anymore to do so, and thereby reveals his p o s i t i o n on the events of the day. The four parts thus have the functions of introducing, providing background, climax and denouement i n the narrative. The story i s partly rendered by descriptions of actions, dialogues and thoughts i n the present time, and memories in the form of flashbacks i n which the past momentarily becomes present with the appropriate dialogues, thoughts and commentaries. One such example i s J i a z h i ' s f i r s t memory f l a s h while waiting i n the coffeeshop. She thinks about how she w i l l have to use her breasts to keep Mr. Yi interested. The narration jumps without introduction into the past ("Two years ago they weren't this way" (p. 22), and two lin e s further into another past ("She seemed to be stung by a needle and immediately saw the detestable looks of these people . . . " ) . A l l her memories and thoughts are rendered i n the t h i r d person singular by a covert, omniscient narrator. They are thus f i l t e r e d through the narrator's words, but the impression i s always given that she i s the one who i s doing the thinking (except for i n the fourth part when Mr. Yi 44 takes over), either b y an introduction ("Jiazhi suspected that Mrs. Ma was jealous . . ." (p. 17) or simply because her action i n the present time suggests that she i s thinking (for example, waiting i n the coffeehouse). The narrator takes on a separate i d e n t i t y when he comments on something we know J i a z h i w i l l not think because she knows i t already ("It was the secret s i g n a l " (p. 20)). Be i t in the present or past time, the reader i s given the impression of following J i a z h i ' s subjective view. When she enters the f i r s t coffeeshop (p. 20) her thoughts move from the general (not many people in the coffeeshop) to the s p e c i f i c (the apricot-red shades of the lamps) and to the general again (the place was large) giving long strings of short impressions separated by commas. The syntax i n these sentences support the impression of her subjective thoughts. When in the past action she i s in Canton, for example, her thoughts jump from sentence to sentence without connecting conjunctions ("She was so excited a f t e r the performance that she could not relax, they celebrated through the night, she was s t i l l not w i l l i n g to go home, with two friends she took a double-decker bus to sightsee the riverbank . . ." (p. 24). The bulk of the narrative i s , as mentioned, locked into J i a z h i ' s mind, taking comparatively more narrative space than the actions stated (looking at her watch, taking the pedicab) or implied (the shooting of the gang). Thoughts both i n the present and in the past, are either i n t e r p r e t a t i v e ("This mahjiang table was r e a l l y a diamond exhi b i t i o n , J i a z h i thought" (p. 18)) or hypo t h e t i c i a l about the immediate future (wondering whether and when Mr. Y i w i l l come, worrying about the correct timing to shoot Mr. Y i ) and the present of that p a r t i c u l a r time ("At the 45 door of this coffeeshop there was probably somebody on the lookout . . ." (present, p. 28) " . . . she l e f t behind her phone number, he must have taken the chance, . . ." (past, p. 26). This changing back and forth between the various times r e f l e c t s J i a z h i ' s anxious mind. She i s r e l a t i v e l y relaxed when she waits i n the coffeeshop and le t s her mind wander off into longer stretches of memory, only interrupted by short returns to the present (the coffee gets cold, the man watching her across the table) and by hypothetical thoughts about the present and the future. Her mind is more agitated at the clim a c t i c moment just before Mr. Yi i s to be assasinated, at which point her thoughts e r r a t i c a l l y j o s t l e s between the various times (past, present, future). In her panic a moment of short duration i n the story may appear longer to her than a moment of longer duration. The narrative captures this atmosphere by stretching the length of the text. The long period of time she waits for Mr. Yi for example (pp. 22-29) and f i l l s with thinking, takes the same amount of pages (seven) as the "tense moment stretching into e t e r n i t y " (pp. 31-38) which st a r t s when they look at the rings and la s t s to the moment when she t e l l s him to leave. The c l i m a c t i c moment ( J i a z h i ' s change of mind) brings about the turning point i n the action of the story ( J i a z h i t e l l s Mr. Yi to leave). As the unavoidable moment of shooting Mr. Y i draws closer, J i a z h i ' s mind moves f a s t e r . Thoughts about the immediate past and the hypothetical future follow each other c l o s e l y ("When just now she had come up the s t a i r s she had been thinking that (immediate past), when coming down they r e a l l y would be going a f t e r an easy prey (hypothetical future) . . 4 6 (p. 3 2 ) to prepare for the clima c t i c moment, the point when she starts to r e s i s t the thoughts about the immediate future. Thoughts about the present and the hypothetical future at that moment appear i n the same sentence. "But because i n a moment there would be gunshots (future) and i n front of her eyes a l l this pink was g l i s t e n i n g (present), what was there s t i l l to lose face over? Although she knew i t would happen this way (fut u r e ) , i n her heart she did not believe i t , because she was r e s i s t i n g i t with a l l her might (present) . . ." (p. 3 4 ) . J i a z h i i s misled by a moment of harmony between herself and Mr. Y i . "She f e l t even more that there were only the two of them alone under the l i g h t facing each other, close and restrained, i t had never been this way" (p. 3 7 ) . This impression has been supported by the narrator e a r l i e r on to increase the weight of her mistake. "At that very moment i t seemed that only they were here together" (p. 3 6 ) . The reader, however, gets an inside view into Mr. Y A 's thoughts soon after J i a z h i ' s impression to show how p i t i f u l l y mistaken she i s . His thoughts, revealing that she is ju s t one woman among many for him, are bracketed by her tender interpretation of his smile. He was not looking at her, the smile on his face was a b i t sorrowful. He never imagined that he would have an adventure l i k e this one after having passed his middle age. . . . His p r o f i l e was facing the l i g h t , the beam f a l l i n g on him, his eyelids looked l i k e cream coloured moths resting on his thin cheeks, to her i t was a warm, p i t i f u l expression.(pp. 37-38) As a result of her thoughts she takes charge of the s i t u a t i o n , brings about the turning point of the story and ultimately her death. 47 As a story with a plot of high secrecy, a l l characters move on d i f f e r e n t levels of r e a l i t i e s separated from each other by misconceptions about each other's true i d e n t i t i e s . They are a l l able to see each other but do not function on the same l e v e l of understanding. Some characters d e l i b e r a t e l y assume various roles to deceive other characters and even though th e i r true i d e n t i t y may be revealed to someone at some point in the story, they a l l remain separated throughout. Mr. Y i for example knows J i a z h i ' s true i d e n t i t y at the end of the story but he i s separated from her by her death. The result i s a story with various levels of r e a l i t y (what one character believes to be true does not represent r e a l i t y for another character) and irony (one character i s aware he/she knows more than another character, the reader has more knowledge than a character.) To include the reader in the l i s t i s not self-evident, as the information of the plot i s released gradually and so even the reader either knows more or less than some characters. Which character's mind is opened to the reader at what p a r t i c u l a r time gives a clue to the i r p o s i t i o n i n the story and their distance from the secret actions going on. J i a z h i i s established as the main character early i n the narrative because we see her r e f l e c t i n g on the sit u a t i o n more often than the other characters (as well as because of the detailed physical d e s c r i p t i o n ) . Seeing a l l the flashing rings she thinks "This i s r e a l l y a diamond e x h i b i t i o n " (p. 18). Mrs. Y i ' s thoughts are disclosed once at the beginning of the narrative to show her version of her rel a t i o n s h i p with J i a z h i . "Somebody introduced her to th i s Mrs. Mai who accompanied her shopping" (p. 16), a version which of course d i f f e r s from 48 J i a z h i ' s side of the story as revealed l a t e r . For a moment also the attitude of the women i n black towards Mrs. Yi i s made clea r . "While poking fun they were s t i l l quite c a r e f u l " (p. 19). They respect the wife of the head of Intelligence and know her weaknesses. Mrs. Ma i s the most watchful of her friends and she makes a comment i n the f i r s t part which makes J i a z h i wonder whether Mrs. Ma could be suspicious ('"I just know that Mr. Y i i s always busy* Mrs. Ma said. Was there a meaning i n Mrs. Ma's words or was she overly sensitive? J i a z h i thought" (p. 20). The last part of the story confirms these doubts by giving the reader a view into Mrs., Ma's mind. ("Judging from his expression i t must be his f i r s t a f f a i r " (p. 43)). There are seven recognizable levels of r e a l i t y and t h e i r implied i r o n i e s . These move conc e n t r i c a l l y away from J i a z h i depending on how deeply involved they are in the i n t r i g u e ( r e a l i t y ) and how much they know about J i a z h i ' s involvement in the plot ( i r o n i e s ) . On the f i r s t l e v e l the reader i s i n i t i a t e d into J i a z h i ' s development of the past through her memories in the necessary amount (how much she t e l l s ) and timing (when she t e l l s i t ) to understand her present s i t u a t i o n . She obviously has more information than the reader but for the understanding of the plot she reveals a l l the reader needs to know to be on the same l e v e l as h e r s e l f . In the present action the reader follows her development step by step as she makes her assumptions and draws the wrong conclusions (thinking that Mr. Y i loves her). The reader at t h i s point knows more than she does and i s i n a sense on the same l e v e l as the narrator. The reader and J i a z h i on the second l e v e l know more than the members of the gang who believe she i s 49 a committed underground worker determined to k i l l a t r a i t o r to their country. They find out about her change of mind at a l a t e r date but they do not know she has a cousin to stay with i n Shanghai. On the third l e v e l Mr. Y i believes J i a z h i i s Mrs. Mai who sleeps with him out of revenge against her husband for. going out with dance g i r l s . By the end of the story he knows about the whole plot to assasinate him and J i a z h i ' s role i n i t , but of course he only knows the external factors, he does not know her inner psychology. S t i l l on that same l e v e l , he w i l l t e l l his wife some story that J i a z h i was a member of a secret spy ring in Chongqing (p. 43) and that she in turn can t e l l Mrs. Ma that "Mrs. Mai" had to return to Hong Kong for an urgent matter. He w i l l also invent a story to defend his pos i t i o n against Zhou Fohai, his superior. On a fourth l e v e l J i a z h i and Mr. Y i know more than his wife and the women in the black cloaks who think that J i a z h i has come to Shanghai to s e l l goods from Hong Kong and l i v e s as a casual v i s t o r at the Y i ' s residence. They also believe that Mr. Y i has a business meeting that day when in actual fact he meets J i a z h i i n secret. A subdivision on that l e v e l i s the surname "Wang" Mrs. Y i gives J i a z h i (p. 19). The nickname gives Mrs. Y i a sense of being closer to J i a z h i but an addit i o n a l name on J i a z h i ' s f a l s e i d e n t i t y creates i n r e a l i t y more distance between both characters. Mrs. Ma on a f i f t h l e v e l i s correct i n assuming that J i a z h i and Mr. Y i are having an a f f a i r , but she misinterprets his f a c i a l expression as his happiness about his f i r s t a f f a i r , whereas the reader (and J i a z h i ) know that he has had several a f f a i r s before. His happiness stems from having escaped death by a narrow margin. In the f i r s t part J i a z h i wonders whether Mrs. Ma has avoided coming over to Mrs. Yi ' s house the la s t few days because she feels 50 jealous. This may be a reason why Mrs. Ma i s more watchful and suspicious than the other women. In the next and s i x t h l e v e l we may include a l l characters who i n the present action of the narrative appear i n close connection to the intrigue but about whose thoughts we have no d i r e c t information. The clerks i n the jewellery store are probably under the impression that Mr. Yi and J i a z h i are a straight forward couple buying a r i n g , but they are seen wavering i n that opinion. (The shopowner checks whether they substituted the r i n g ) . The man i n the coffee shop observes her; she thinks for him ("He couldn't make out what kind of person she was?" (p. 24), but the l a s t sentence could be taken as his assumption ("She didn't seem too much l i k e a dancegirl, i f she was acting in movies or dramas, she didn't look f a m i l i a r " (p. 42). The waiter i n the f i r s t coffeeshop from where J i a z h i makes her phonecall i s made to believe she i s phoning her "second eldest brother" (p. 21). And f i n a l l y to the last and seventh l e v e l belong those characters, mentioned and implied who are not involved in the plot i n any way. Among these are the young pedicab d r i v e r , the man who repairs his bicycle and a l l the people passing J i a z h i on the street from whom she feels separated by a pane of glass. V i s u a l l y the d i f f e r e n t levels may look something l i k e t h i s : 51 The schema represents the levels of r e a l i t y i n which the characters (or groups of characters) move within the context of the story. From a s t r u c t u r a l point of view the narrative begins on the fourth l e v e l , moves down step by step to the f i r s t l e v e l and then moves up to the f i f t h , sixth and seventh l e v e l . The question needs to be addressed at what point the narrative discloses clues for the reader to c l e a r l y see through the various l e v e l s . By misleading the reader, keeping the reader uninformed or imparting the information b i t by b i t as the character(s) proceed through the story, irony and thereby the tension of suspense i s heightened. As the story opens, the narrative gives the impression of a simple game of mahjiang (supported by the short view the reader has into Mrs. Yi's mind), up to the moment Mr. Y i gives J i a z h i the signal with his chin. The reader believes J i a z h i and Mr. Yi are having an a f f a i r and tr y i n g to leave the house to meet outside. ( T r a n s i t i o n from the fourth to the t h i r d l e v e l ) . Without any explanation from the narrator J i a z h i thinks three times: " I f i t did not succeed today . . ." (pp. 20, 21, 24.) Whereas J i a z h i i s preoccupied with the thought whether Mr. Yi w i l l f a l l i n to the trap or not, the reader the f i r s t time s t i l l believes these thoughts refer to herself and Mr. Y i . ". . . i f they had to drag on any longer, Mrs. Y i would know." By the time she thinks i t a second time the narrative has commented on her mysterious phonecall ("It was the secret si g n a l " ) giving the reader the notion of another l e v e l of r e a l i t y . The t r a n s i t i o n from the t h i r d l e v e l to the second i s obscured by the lack of explanation and slowed down by the momentary flashback. When she waits 52 for him in the coffeeshop and thinks "He himself was in the Secret Service and even though he had not grown suspicious, he was a crafty person with many hideouts, he must be quite unpredictable" (p. 23) and shortly after worries for the th i r d time "If i t did not work out today, there would be no other chance", we know she i s somebody d i f f e r e n t from whom she pretends to be. The second l e v e l of r e a l i t y i s gradually made clear by the long s t r e t c h of memory i n which the information unrolls chronologically and joins her present time. Beginning from the end of her memory (p. 2 9 ) i n the mind of the reader J i a z h i i s c l e a r l y the underground worker pretending to be Mr. Yi's mistress. The moment she starts to have doubts about her role in the intrigue ("Although she knew i t would happen this way, in her heart she did not believe i t , because she was r e s i s t i n g i t w i l l a l l her might . . ." p. 3 4 ) , she changes to J i a z h i the young woman who has become attached to Mr. Y i . What then i s the relationship between J i a z h i and Mr. Yi? A rela t i o n s h i p of "hunter and hunted" (p. 167) in which the roles in the end are reversed and played out in a f a i r game: either he or she w i l l get k i l l e d . She saves him for humanitarian reasons (love) but he thinks he has his reputation at stake and has her k i l l e d . J i a z h i s a c r i f i c e s her body to k i l l a ' t r a i t o r ' , she acts as i s required of her, she i s "completely passive" (p. 36). She takes a step from being ordered what to do, to expressing what she wants (save the l i f e of somebody she has become attached to). As the main actress of her troupe she i s chosen to act out the role of approaching Mr. Y i , the head of the Secret I n t e l l i g e n c e Service. In their own group both Mr. Y i and J i a z h i are in a primary p o s i t i o n , but they are s t i l l subordinated to 53 somebody s t i l l more i n f l u e n t i a l . J i a z h i has to wait for instructions from her group and the agent Wu, Mr. Y i has to render account for his actions to Zhou, his superior. Despite these s i m i l a r i t i e s , however, Mr. Y i i s i n a much more powerful p o s i t i o n than J i a z h i because his role i s part of the actual world of the story whereas she i s just a student acting out a r o l e . The reader i n i t i a l l y perceives J i a z h i from a purely external aspect, in probably the very same way Mr. Y i sees her: p h y s i c a l l y beautiful and sexually a t t r a c t i v e . Mention of her breasts occurs on several occasions; they are the medium she works with to keep Mr. Y i interested. As an underground agent her job i s to make him trust her s u f f i c i e n t l y so that he w i l l b l i n d l y run into the trap l a i d for him. At the same time she needs to remain detached from him to make the plan work. Her f a i l u r e to do so and the reasons leading up to this change i s what the narrative is about. She keeps her real personality hidden from him, only the reader has access into the innermost spheres of her mind. It i s only after the drastic change of action that Mr. Y i can i n f e r from her actions how J i a z h i must have f e l t about him. Mr. Y i i s a shrewd man. His physique suggests the elusive professional secret agent who even i n the walls of his own home merges with the background. "Projected onto the fern pr i n t of the curtain he became dwarfed i n a land of giants" (p. 17). He has incorporated the s k i l l s of his trade into his d a i l y l i f e , a man inconspicuous at any time. When he bought g i f t s for women on previous occasions he "was only at the side i n attendance, making sure he was not noticed" (p. 38) and also when he buys the ring f or J i a z h i he only looks at i t in her hand (p. 34) 54 suggesting how l i t t l e he gets involved. His position gives him the authority to order a road block, to stop the a c t i v i t i e s of a c i t y , and he explains his a f f a i r with J i a z h i as re s u l t i n g from his power (pp. 38, 42). He does not know, however, that he i s being manipulated by the basest of his i n s t i n c t s , his l u s t . He deludes himself into believing he is i n control of the s i t u a t i o n when in actual fact his emotions get the better of him. "On the surface he was s i t t i n g so s t r a i g h t , but in the dark he was a l l emotions, f e e l i n g excited" (p. 30). He k i l l s a group of students to save his name in front of his superior and personal role model, Zhou Fohai. The greed of the Yi's and also a certain small mindedness i s apparent i n connection with the curtains covering the whole wall. "Because Zhou Fohai's house had them, they had them too. The imitatio n French curtain style which reached the f l o o r had recently come out i n the West but because during wartime imported curtain material was in short supply, they used a whole bolt, and then the flower pattern s t i l l had to be matched, i t was r e a l l y a bold move" (p. 17). The curtain pattern which previously had suggested his unobstrusiveness and had provided him with a camouflage even i n his own home, reminds him of his lack of control after the murder attempt. "They had the whole wall covered l i k e that, could an assasin be hiding i n i t ? . . .He would remember to have them taken down tomorrow" (p. 41). Ji a z h i ' s experience on stage during her school years has provided her with the necessary s k i l l s to successfully play her role as Mrs. Mai and mistress of Mr. Y i . In f a c t , she i s so s k i l l e d that she can hold these two d i f f e r e n t roles at the same time. In front of Mr. Y i ' s eyes she pretends to Mrs. Y i that she has forgotten the time for an appointment, 55 without Mr. Y i becoming suspicious that her performance may be too smooth. She has moved from a drama group performing "rousing p a t r i o t i c h i s t o r i c a l plays" (p. 142) to acting in real l i f e for equally p a t r i o t i c reasons; this time, however, together with non-actors. Her task i s more challenging now as she, unlike on stage, has to improvise her part along some guidelines, constantly faced with Mr. Yi's unpredictable responses and partly uninformed about the gang's next moves. "She was imagining a l l these things, although she c l e a r l y knew they had nothing to do with her and that she was not to worry about these things" (p. 33). She and her friends never seem to have l e f t the stage of the drama troupe. They s t i l l see the whole procedure as a play, i n the sense of a game. When she thinks about th e i r f i r s t moves i n Hong Kong she remembers that Huang L e i "raised funds, rented a house, borrowed a car and got the actor's costumes (p. 25)." Even two years l a t e r i n Shanghai the members of the gang do not seem to be aware of the difference between f i c t i o n and r e a l i t y . "'They a l l put the muzzle of the gun on the person's body and then shoot, i t ' s not at a l l l i k e i n the movies at a l l where they aim from a great distance.' Kuang Yumin had told her one day laughing" (p. 29). They are too inexperienced and i d e a l i s t i c for the danger involved i n the p l o t t i n g . The r e a l underground worker i s Wu, not seen and untracable. He i s taking advantage of the idealism of these young people who take part in the action with zeal but without adequate t r a i n i n g . J i a z h i knows she i s involved i n a dangerous game, one i n which she could lose her l i f e or at least become wounded (p. 29), but she is too vulnerable and ultimately too self-centered for the job. Compared to the precariousness of the s i t u a t i o n , her thoughts are not focused enough, she 56 has become too personally involved. At the c r u c i a l moment, when she should be cold-blooded and c a l c u l a t i n g , her desire for love and security becomes stronger than her sense of duty to her group, so strong that she even deludes herself into b e l i e v i n g Mr. Y i loves her. "That man r e a l l y loves me, she suddenly thought; her heart jumped, she f e l t distracted" (p. 38). The jeweller's a t t i c transforms into a cosy "comfortable nest" and the r e f l e c t i o n of her feet in the poenies drawn on the mirror reminds her of "a market place . . . in goodnight s t o r i e s " (p. 35). Also paying with gold ingots for the ring seems l i k e a story from 'A Thousand and One Nights' to her (p. 35). Overwhelmed by her emotions she wants to block out the brutal r e a l i t y of the imminent moment from her mind by numbing he senses. "The heavy warmth and sweetness of the a i r covered her face l i k e a cotton q u i l t " (p. 34). These are a l l images which remind one of the i d y l l of family l i f e , a house with a garden, with the purchase of the diamond being the symbolic action leading toward that l i f e . Subconsciously she may want to take the role of his wife, as she remember from the conversation of that afternoon that pink diamonds "are valuable but have no market" (p. 34). Mr. Y i had not been w i l l i n g to buy his wife a ring with a valuable gem but he i s buying J i a z h i a red diamond of even higher value than his wife had wanted. For him this is just a routine that has to be absolved with women. "Presents had to be given to women, but i f they were given too early, i t could appear as i f he were looking down on them" (p. 37). When she waits for him i n the coffeeshop and i s s t i l l focused on her mission she knows she can count on that attitude i n him and so lead him into his trap. ("Moreover, jewellery had always been a weak point in women" (p. 23)). 57 J i a z h i thus undergoes a change. Her carrying these two pe r s o n a l i t i e s within her, however, one duty-bound and one s e c u r i t y - seeking, i s foreshadowed and supported by various l i t e r a r y devices from the beginning i n the narrative and reveals that she had this d u a l i t y before her change occurs i n the story. She i s associated with contrasting elements of brightness and darkness, whereby the brightness points to her pub l i c , external l i f e on imaginary stages i n the present time and the darkness represents her private, personal side that she has not been aware of herself and discovers herself i n the course of the narrative. Her public, bright side outshines her dark side with the sharp contrasts gradually disappearing as the strong l i g h t s dim and give way to colours (the green, white and red pin wheel on the. pedicab at the end of the t h i r d p a r t ) . The l i g h t s are the brightest after she has successfully attracted Mr. Yi i n Hong Kong and she feels her b r i l l i a n c e i s so strong i t illuminates the others (p. 26). The fact that she i s the lightsource herself shows her enthusiasm for the cause. It i s so ardent that she even has enough b r i l l i a n c e to make the "detestable Liang Runsheng" (p. 27) appear not so detestable and have her f i r s t sexual experience with him. This happens "off-stage" from the present action. When she goes "on-stage" i n the present time she i s illuminated by (or i n the presence of) l i g h t s . They shine from strong overhead lamps onto f l a t surfaces (stretched tablecloth) (p. 15) creating a strong contrast between the dazzling white of the table cloth and the cleavage of her breasts ( J i a z h i i n a c t i o n ) . Or they shine at a distance from her onto uneven distances (brown corridor wall i n the second coffeeshop) bringing out lesser contrasts ( J i a z h i by herself but s t i l l on stage). The lamps i n the f i r s t 58 coffee shop from where she makes her phone c a l l to 'Second brother' are under apricot-red shades. The warmer colours may suggest the warm fee l i n g s she has toward her mother tongue. Also the contrast in temperature between her i c e - c o l d hands and her sentiments towards the sounds on the phone at that moment underline her c o n f l i c t between the role she plays and the person she r e a l l y wants to be (and of course her nervousness). Another instance with contrasts in temperatures occurs in the jewellery store between the "cold wind at the back of her head" (p. 34) coming from the store down s t a i r s (immediate future, danger) and the "heavy warmth and sweetness of the a i r " in the a t t i c ('house', saf e t y ) . When Mr. Yi and J i a z h i look at the diamond ring i n the third part she has to move toward the l i g h t to get a good look at the stone, suggesting that the lamp i s not very strong. As the narrative approaches the turning point, the l i g h t i s very weak, i t has no strength to illuminate her public role on the stage anymore. "There was only now, this tense moment stretching into e t e r n i t y , the glimmering l i g h t in this small verandah, setting off the snow-white space of daylight downstairs in the door and the window" (p. 37). For each of her imaginary stages she has spectators: the women and Mr. Yi at the mahjiang table, the man at the counter when she makes her phonecall, and the man watching her while she waits for Mr. Y i . In the jewellery store she alternates between being looked at by the clerks and Mr. Y i , and becoming a spectator herself as she starts to change from being J i a z h i the actress to J i a z h i the person i n real l i f e . The stagelights change the i r focus from shining onto her to shining onto her to shining onto Mr. Yi during the short and only time i n that part the 59 reader gets a view into his mind and this probably because Mr. Y i at that moment i s himself on stage. While J i a z h i i s relinguishing her role, his ca l c u l a t i n g thoughts are revealed. He does not buy her the ring because he l i k e s her but because "present had to be given to women" (p. 37). After he has been warned and has sprung up, he plunges into the darkness of the narrow stairways, moving momentarily into her world. Meanwhile, however, the stage for an act i n the rea l world has been prepared, the a r t i f i c i a l l i g h t s have changed to natural daylight. (". . . the snow white space of daylight downstairs" p. 37). J i a z h i ' s f a l t e r i n g l i f e on stage i s threatened to be destroyed by an act of violence in the real world. " [ D ]ownstairs were the two shopwindows with the door i n the middle, one whole g l i t t e r i n g space, i t seemed l i k e a huge window stretching two fl o o r s up which could explode at anytime" (p. 34). Now that J i a z h i i s not so convinced anymore about her mission, she feels incapacitated i n her role as actress and i s reduced to a mere spectator looking down from a balcony onto a scene of murder. The a t t i c which a moment ago seemed l i k e a "comfortable nest" to her, now changes into a balcony i n a movie theatre. The black and white cartoon f i l m she imagines u n r o l l i n g behind her back represents the terror she feels of what could happen to her i n the near future. "On that dim verandah, bright windows and the glass door behind her were the screen on which a black and white cartoon f i l m was projected, she could not bear to look at the bloody scene, or a spy being questioned under torture" (pp. 34-35). There are several mentions of movie theatres, things being projected onto screens and props for the stage to i n t e n s i f y the atmosphere of u n r e a l i t y J i a z h i l i v e s i n , a l i f e removed from the rea l world by 60 glass panes. When she and Mr. Yi drive to the jewellery store (the fact that the car f i r s t drives away from the store and has to make numerous turns to get back to i t , may symbolize J i a z h i ' s subconscious unwillingness to drive to the place where he w i l l be k i l l e d ) J i a z h i watches the Ping An theatre through the window. " I t was the only clean movie theatre i n town operating with two r e e l s , the greyish red, dark yellow two-coloured door front had a warm f e e l i n g of some coarse knitted wool" (p. 30). Before the c l i m a c t i c moment she i s at ease i n her world of stages (therefore J i a z h i ' s p o s i t i v e and warm impression of the Ping An theatre), she knows she i s acting and accepts the props around her. Items around her are a "wooden model of a three layered white wedding cake i n the shopwindow" (p. 29) and "wooden models s t r i k i n g d i f f e r e n t poses behind the neon, l i g h t s " (p. 31). Shortly a f t e r the c l i m a c t i c moment, when she has changed from J i a z h i the actress to J i a z h i the young women, she would l i k e the stage props be part of her l i f e . "Too bad [the ring] was just a stage prop, and that i t was used for such a short time, i t could make one f e e l disconsolate" (p. 35). When she leaves the jewellery store after the turning point, she feels separated from the l e i s u r e l y and free world by a window pane, including from the "beautiful wooden figures i n the shopwindows displaying furcoats, bat sleeved sweaters, and flowered s h i r t s which could be looked at but not approached" (pp. 39-40). From that point on she knows she has l e f t the stage-(underground) l i f e behind her and although she may not know i t h e r s e l f , her sensation of , being "locked on the outside" (p. 40) may foreshadow that she w i l l never reach the r e a l world. The symbol of glass apearing i n various shapes and forms (the perfume b o t t l e , the g l a s s t i c k , mirrors, glass counters) but e s p e c i a l l y recurring 61 as windows, creates an atmosphere of things and people being v i s i b l e but i n t a n g i b l e . The glass walls separating the characters at the various l e v e l s are often associated with cold sensations i n t e n s i f y i n g the impression of distance: a r e f r i g e r a t i n g glass counter, the cold space the perfume leaves behind on J i a z h i ' s earlobes and just the very element of glass. Another aspect of the glass symbols are the diamond rings. While they too (together with other jewels mentioned) have a function of separating characters, in this case economically ( J i a z h i regrets wearing her jade ring because she feels the other women w i l l laugh at her (p. 18), and the women in the black cloaks wear gold chains to display their wealth, (p. 16)), they also have the function of bringing the secret agents closer to t h e i r foe. Precisely because a stone i s missing from her earing, she can lure Mr. Yi into the store. The diamond ring he buys for her i s red, standing for the lust he f e e l s for her. The ring symbolically represents a union, but theirs i s not to be, as the ring i s only a stage prop. As the atmosphere of secrecy p e r v a i l s , none of the characters are able to perceive each other's true i d e n t i t y . Listening devices are i n s t a l l e d , a physical distance i s created by conversations made by telephone, and the language barriers of Cantonese, Shanghainese, Mandarin, English and Hindi demand some addit i o n a l crossing of b a r r i e r s . They create d i f f i c u l t i e s for the characters to communicate on the same l e v e l . The underground workers again use these complications to t h e i r advantage: because J i a z h i speaks Cantonese, her friendship with Mrs. Yi i s legitimate i n helping her shop. 62 J i a z h i ' s i n a b i l i t y to be part of the real world i s supported by an add i t i o n a l contrast of presence and absence of sounds. Her l i f e on stage i s only an imitat i o n of real l i f e and can therefore not have the same i n t e n s i t y . The sounds are subdued. "On this side the store was in a deep sleep, one could only f a i n t l y hear the c i t y ' s noises" (p. 34). This absence, or muffled presence of sounds i s r a t i o n a l i z e d with the condition of wartime, i t s aesthetic function, however, i s to increase the sense of J i a z h i ' s numbed panic and to suggest the unr e a l i t y of the s i t u a t i o n . Just a f t e r the turning point there are sounds of feet stumbling down the s t a i r s of leather soles running on linoleum, the s h r i l l sound of a car, the sound of a whistle and b e l l s . These are supported by similes, " Y i shot out l i k e a b u l l e t " (p. 38) and the car door shutting close l i k e a gunshot. J i a z h i has come to l i f e , even i f i t i s for a short moment, she hears sounds and sees colours (the three-coloured pinwheel on the pedicab she h a i l s ) . These moments are short, however, because although she has taken charge of the events around her, there i s no return, her underground l i f e has carried her too far away from the re a l world. After she leaves the jewellery store she fe e l s v i s u a l l y separated from the ordinary people on the street by a glass pane and a u d i t o r i l y by the chiming of ironsheets. The blockade i s ca l l e d and J i a z h i knows this means her end. "The street was wide, the sound of the b e l l s l i k e thin ironsheets floated heavily i n midair over the road; the sound did not carry over, but seemed very f ar away" (p. 40). J i a z h i has i n other words made an attempt to break through two levels of r e a l i t y at once (being the fake mistress of Mr. Y i on the thir d l e v e l and the d u t i f u l underground worker on the second l e v e l ) to become 63 h e r s e l f . By revealing herself at the wrong moment, however, she has i r o n i c a l l y only managed to separate herself completely from the world she wanted to return to. In her move to save Y i she has unconsciously doomed he r s e l f . The author's s k i l l e d use of imagery and symbolism i n this story enhances the impression of J i a z h i ' s move away from p a s s i v i t y i n the theatre world to a p o s i t i o n of control over her l i f e , even though, as we have seen, this decision comes at the wrong moment. By the author's adept arrangement of the various times seen mostly through the main character's eyes, Zhang A i l i n g i s also able to control the perspective of the reader and thereby increase the suspense. The information about events and characters i s only gradually disclosed making the narrative at f i r s t seem incoherent, i t is only at the very end of the story that the reader has a complete p i c t u r e . 64 CHAPTER 3 "Flowers and P i s t i l s Floating on the Waves": A Mind at Rest In the short story "Flowers and P i s t i l s Floating on the Waves" the technique of scattering the material i n a chronological d i s t o r t i o n has the function of r e f l e c t i n g a mind at rest, a mind r e l a t i v e l y free of pressures i n the present time, able to roam into the memory of various pasts and give some thoughts to the future. The story has no unity of plot i n that the main character's scattered thoughts do not point to a theme or to a truth within the story. There i s no dra s t i c change in the present action, no enlightenment of the character. A l l the narrative does i s create the i l l u s i o n of the movements of a mind under r e l a t i v e l y relaxed circumstances, challenging the reader to piece the chronological order together and get an approximate picture of the main character's personality. Luozhen's thoughts about the past are not a concentrated pondering to resolve a problem nor is the i r main function to provide information about her past i n order to explain her present s i t u a t i o n but- rather to r e f l e c t her present state of mind. She uses the time at her disposal (ten days) i n a peaceful location (a small f r e i g h t e r ) to think about various aspects of her past, a past she i s prepared to leave behind emotionally and p h y s i c a l l y , as she travels toward her future, the start of a new l i f e i n Japan. With the present action i n the story (and the accompanying thoughts) 65 l i m i t e d to a few short passages, J y the past takes precedence over the present both i n narrative content and textual space. This i s because the scope of the events i n the past i s larger and more i n t r i c a t e than the events in the present. The present action serves as a springboard for thoughts to dive into memories by providing objects or s i m i l a r moments i n the present that trigger associations, which in turn tri g g e r further associations. The present also has the function of supplying reference points, of providing a sense of continuity when the narrative emerges from long passages of memory. Towards the end of the narrative Luozhen's thoughts about the past connect in almost perfect chronological sequence to the present, that i s at the inception of the narrative. Nevertheless, for the content of the story, the past and the present time are not mutually interdependent. The present action could t h e o r e t i c a l l y stand by i t s e l f , but the story would lose in technical and a r t i s t i c depth by having a l l the memories omitted. Luozhen's thoughts are rendered in "narrated report" in the t h i r d person singular through the presence of the narrator who, however, does not i n t e r f e r e with the i l l u s i o n of a t t r i b u t i n g the thoughts and their movement to Luozhen. The narrator's presence can be c l e a r l y perceived 3 ^ i n f a c t , the present action can be l i s t e d in f i f t e e n steps: 1. Luozhen watches the waiter carry her luggage into her room 2.- she carries her typewriter 3. she l i f t s the sofa cushion 4. she observes the foreigners 5. she has lunch with the other two passengers 6. she looks out into the sea 7. she types 8. she greets the Norwegian s a i l o r 9. she p u l l s the l e t t e r out of the typewriter 10. she looks at the photo album with Fanglin 11. she observes the workers on the pi e r 12. from her room she observes Japanese passengers board the ship 13. during the meals her contact i s not as good with the L i ' s 14. she keeps eating during the high waves 15. she wants to wash her hand, leans on wash basin ( l i s t e n s ) . 66 at the beginning of the narrative when the action seems to halt for a moment and the narrator brings in some information about Luozhen's po s i t i o n in her family ("Luozhen was, what i n her native d i a l e c t was c a l l e d , 'the daughter of an old man' . . ." p. 48). Thoughts about her family might f l a s h through her mind at that moment, but the information seems to be coming too much from the exterior as to be part of her thoughts. Thus, a narrator presents enough to put Luozhen into the picture for the reader, and at this point also foreshadows the content of the thoughts (her family) that w i l l most occupy Luozhen's mind during her journey. As Luozhen lets her mind wander, she thinks about her own past, and that of other people. The information she has about them is either supplied by her imagination (she imagines how the couple with her on the boat met), by mentioned report (Miss Solomon t e l l s her i n Shanghai how Mr. K a l i and Miss Fan got married) and by implied report (her older s i s t e r and probably Fanny herself t o l d Luozhen about th e i r days abroad). Her own past and the story of other characters' pasts may occur simultaneously but may have no impact on each other. Some of these, for example (Mr. and Mrs. K a l i , Mr. K a l i and Miss Fan) are of no importance to her situation either in the past or the present within the context of the story; they get l o s t somewhere i n the narrative and have no function other than revealing something about Luozhen's personality. Other characters' pasts (Fanny and Adrian abroad i n Shanghai and Hong Kong) are connected to her past, they merge, interact with her story and play a role i n her decision making that w i l l lead to her current s i t u a t i o n . 67 On the boat Luozhen's thoughts move back into three pasts that are geographically related to her own story and one past that i s geographically removed. The various pasts are, s t a r t i n g with the remotest point from her present: IV. Fanny, Adrian, another s i s t e r and her brother abroad (probably England), Fanny and the captain on the boat. I I I . Shanghai: Fanny and Adrian upon the i r return, the marriage of their daughters, Adrian by himself i n Shanghai for more than a year (work, prison), Luozhen's job, her v i s i t to Miss Solomon's house, the man following her, Luozhen obtaining her e x i t - v i s a by shedding tears, Luozhen and Adrian on the bus to the B r i t i s h Embassy. II . Canton: She takes the t r a i n from Shanghai to Canton, men on the streets assault her, the bridge over Lake Luo, the porters at the end of the bridge. I. Hpng Kong: Luozhen stays one day with Fanny, she finds a room in a crowded boarding house, she moves to a better place, she decides to go to Japan, she receives notice of Fanny's death, she attends the funeral, she receives a small envelope with money from the servant. As we can see from these four groups, Luozhen's memories move within four blocks which, when put into t h e i r proper chronological order as I have done here, form a continuous story. The past and the present are connected by a common theme of t r a v e l , that i s of physical displacement toward the present (the boat) and the present moving into the future (Japan). The remotest past (Fanny and Adrian abroad) i s connected to the t h i r d past (Shanghai) by the boat 68 (Fanny and Adrian return to China) which i n turn i s connected to the second past (Canton) by the exit v i s a and the t r a i n . Canton i s connected to the f i r s t past (Hong Kong) by the bridge over Lake Luo and this l a s t past to the present by Luozhen's announcement that she wants to go to Japan. The uncertain future i s brought into the narrative by mention of Luozhen's former classmate i n Japan (who helps her with the entry v i s a into Japan) and her worried thoughts about her l i f e there without any knowledge of Japanese. The narrative touches Luozhen's future (becomes present) by mention of the boat, passing the small Japanese islands, and by the temporal statements i n the narrative such as "When they had almost reached Japan . . ." (p. 78). The theme of tr a v e l throughout the story and the frequent a l l u s i o n to foreign countries give the story a broad, i n t e r n a t i o n a l scope^1-1 and at the same time give a sense of Luozhen's independent character. More about her character w i l l appear toward the end of the discussion. ^ u T h i s story could be ca l l e d the most i n t e r n a t i o n a l of Zhang A i l i n g s t o r i e s : the Norwegian boat company travels between Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand i n the South China Sea. The t r a i n to Canton i s Russian. The streets i n Canton looks l i k e markets on pictures from India, a Russian documentary f i l m on orchards i n Turkestan i s accompanied by music that sounds l i k e Indian music, the whiskers on the woman's face are a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c feature reaching from the Middle East a l l the way to I t a l y , there i s a f i l m about the Swedish Queen, there are people of mixed races at Luozhen's job (English Jews, B r i t i s h Indians), Fanny and Adrian l i v e abroad, he had his clothes made i n England, the house they build has a 'modern Danish s t y l e ' , they have Mexican candleholders and Dutch foodwarmers, Adrian works for an East European businessman, somebody brings mangoes from Taiwan, Fanny's son has gone to B r a z i l , Adrian gesticulates l i k e an I t a l i a n , he goes with Luozhen to the B r i t i s h Embassy to apply for an entry v i s a into Hong Kong, the wife of the B r i t i s h Indian man i s Japanese, af t e r the Pearl Harbour incident the Japanese Army enters Shanghai, the B r i t i s h and Americans enter concentration camps, Luozhen tastes Malaysian food. 69 Within the numerous switches between the various h i s t o r i e s we can break the narrative down into four parts according to the action of the present time. The f i r s t part s t a r t s with Luozhen i n the present time on the boat, springs back to the second past i n Canton (a c t u a l l y the very t r a n s i t i o n point between the second and the f i r s t past on the bridge over Lake Luo), moves to the beginning of the second past ( t r a i n from Shanghai to Canton), alternates between the t h i r d and the second past (men bothering her both i n Shanghai and Canton) and joins the present again on the boat. The second part has a long memory placed between the brackets from when she starts to type and pulls the finish e d l e t t e r out of the typewriter. This memory starts with her s i s t e r s and the i r husbands abroad (fourth past) and alternates between Fanny and Adrian i n Shanghai and Hong Kong, and Luozhen in r e l a t i o n to them either i n Shanghai or Hongkong. The t h i r d part starts with Luozhen and Fanglin looking at the photo album i n the present time, alternates between Luozhen's thoughts about her job i n Shanghai ( t h i r d past) and thoughts about Fanglin and L i Chaxun (their r e l a t i o n s h i p , how they met). - It continues i n the present time with the cockroaches i n her cabin and i s followed by a flashback of her stay i n Hong Kong ( f i r s t and closest past), chronologically reaching the present time when she boards the ship (implied). The past reaches the present time of the story, but this present time has already become a past i n i t s r e l a t i o n to the time i n the narrative when Luozhen thinks about that moment (she i s about ten days ahead of that "present"). The last and fourth part u n r o l l s c h i e f l y i n the present time ( i t starts with the boat winding round the small islands and ends with Luozhen's thoughts about the 70 future) with a short return to the t h i r d past (Adrian's pleading look on the bus i n Shanghai). We define thus the present time as the actions and the corresponding thoughts which the reader experiences at the same time as the character and of which he/she knows only as much as (or more) than the (main) character. Accordingly, we define the past as the time which the character remembers ( r e l i v e s for the reader) and in which case the character knows more than the reader. We now turn to a detailed look at the d i f f e r e n t ways the narrative renders temporal switches between the various blocks of times, switches which can be either almost i n v i s i b l e or c l e a r l y recognizable to the reader. In a l l of these s h i f t s the reader has to orient him/herself within the chronology, as the narrative, in i t s endeavour to record the flowing thoughts of the character, does not give explanatory comments by the narrator to help the reader find his way. Switches between the various times can occur so imperceptively that the reader may not notice them in a f i r s t reading. They are embedded inside a paragraph without any temporal indications of the t r a n s i t i o n . There are two such examples, one in the beginning of the narrative and one towards the end. They seemed to be going through a hotel passage way, an old building kept in good repair with a carpet swallowing the sound of feet, a wind s t i l l quiet p l a c e — a round tube shaped tunnel t r a v e l l i n g through time,/under her feet i t was slippery and d i f f i c u l t to walk, when walking her knees f e l t weak. The bridge over Lake Luo also had a roof . . . (p. 48) Luozhen compares the body of the boat to the passageway of a hotel which i n turn reminds her of the bridge by Lake Luo without any further 71 elaboration as to where the lake and the bridge are situated and at what time she crossed i t . Before the bridge over Lake Luo and i t s roof are mentioned in the above passage, the reader gets a sensation of the atmosphere which both the boat and the bridge share without Luozhen. c l a r i f y i n g the location. The reader at this point does not know whether her knees are weak on the boat because of the troubled sea (or some other reason) or on the bridge because she i s a f r a i d she w i l l be caught and brought back to the mainland, as i t i s la t e r revealed. This i s what makes the t r a n s i t i o n fuzzy. We can see that this p a r t i c u l a r narrative technique conveys well the quick movements of the mind in which present and past merge, an impression increased by the absence of the narrator's (or Luozhen's own) e f f o r t s to bring the reader into the p i c t u r e . The second example occurs when she i s a f r a i d about the crockroaches at night in the present time. She was also worried they would crawl into her luggage and she would carry them onto land./The room she had rented i n Hong Kong had no f u r n i t u r e , she had gone to buy a strawmat and a spray can of insect r e p e l l a n t . (p. 71) The l i n k between the two times i s the spraycan of insect repellent, something she i s probably wishing for at night on the " l i v i n g sofa". The cockroaches themselves appear i n the same f i r s t past but under d i f f e r e n t circumstances one page l a t e r (she thinks about the unhygienic s i t u a t i o n of the public washroom i n the f i r s t house she stayed i n in Hong Kong). The t r a n s i t i o n i n this passage i s also embedded inside a paragraph but i s a b i t clearer to the reader than the f i r s t example because memories of Hong Kong have occurred e a r l i e r on i n the narrative. 72 Time s h i f t s are the easiest to discern when they start abruptly with a new paragraph and are marked with a clear temporal i n d i c a t i o n . The reader then knows the narrative turns either backward i n time i n r e l a t i o n to the present time or a past, or moves forward from a past. One such obvious example occurs i n the beginning of the narrative, right after the f i r s t "fuzzy" t r a n s i t i o n . Luozhen's thoughts have moved from the present to the second past (bridge at Lake Luo, story t r a n s i t i o n from the second past to the f i r s t past) and then abruptly jump to the beginning of the second past. She thanked him again and again and wanted to give him some money, but he waved his hand and refused to accept i t . On the t r a i n to Canton she had t r a v e l l e d on hard seats, . . . ( p p . 49-50) For this passage the reader needs to have some knowledge of China's geography i n order to know that the incident in Luohu (bridge from Canton to Hong Kong) takes place e a r l i e r i n the story than her t r i p by t r a i n to Hong Kong, although i t appears l a t e r i n the narrative. Temporal t r a n s i t i o n s can occur either within the same time (in the past or in the present) or chronologically from one time to the next. In the l a t t e r case there i s no temporal d i s t o r t i o n . The narrative jumps from one event to a l a t e r event within the chronological order of the story but accelerates the narrative by omitting an event or implying i t ( e l l i p s i s ) . In Hong Kong for example, Luozhen receives the obituary notice about Fanny's death. In the next l i n e (without an explanation) she is already at the ceremony. 73 On the obituary notice was the place of the funeral, i t was in the c e l l a r of a large commercial building i n Zhong Huan./ The double winged large old teakwood door was unlatched, she pushed i t open and went i n . (p. 74) The reader does not know whether she goes to the ceremony the same day or a few days l a t e r , but the period of silence between her reading the notice and going to the ceremony conveys well her fee l i n g of numbness at Fanny's unexpected death. In the same time block of the above example the past joins the present smoothly yet without exact indications about Luozhen's actions during the t r a n s i t i o n . A general statement about t r a v e l l i n g takes the place of explanations as to. when and how Luozhen boarded the ship. . . . in her emotion her nerves had confused her so that her action had been unreasonable. Luckily she l e f t not long after that. Boarding a ship and having the distance of an ocean behind oneself, and sometimes the space and the time can make people forget things. No wonder in foreign novels . . . This boat took ten days from Hong Kong to Japan, . . . (p. 76) General statements thus can function as timeless l i n k s to smooth t r a n s i t i o n s over, either within a chronological order as in the above example or in an anachronical s h i f t . Luozhen's general thoughts about Communism for instance l i n k an abrupt jump from the t h i r d past (the man following her i n Shanghai) to the present time. A t e r r i f i e d face has no i n d i v i d u a l i z e d features, General i t i s a thousand faced person. statement The waiter came c a l l i n g for lunch (p. 53) Present time 74 As " f i l l e r s " i n the present or past action we can also include the previously mentioned elaborations by the narrator on Luozhen's position i n her family. The narrative action seems to come to a ha l t , thereby providing space for the narrator (or Luozhen i n other examples) to supply some additional information. These are mostly short passages inserted within a temporal section of the narrative. Luozhen's short memory f l a s h i n the past about another past (the mangoes from Taiwan (p. 62)) and the short thought i n the present i n regard to her s i s t e r ' s words about typing (p. 67) do not d i s t r a c t from the main action of that p a r t i c u l a r time; they are b r ief views into another time with a quick return to the i n i t i a l time. While these short sentences may have no special meaning in the story other than emphasizing a point i n the i n i t i a l time, Luozhen's recurring thoughts about. Communism, on the other hand, appearing within any time section, r e f l e c t her underlying opinion about Communism. Short sentences of the present time, for example, are inserted into her memories into her memories of the past and show Luozhen commenting in the present time on these past events. There were some scattered laughs which t h i r d past stopped almost as f a s t . (Shanghai) In a f i l m on the Swedish Queen Jiabao had memory without a famous love scene . . . time s p e c i f i c a t i o n Two, three years ago, even Shanghai was present time l i k e that, Luozhen thought. After the show, when the l i g h t s were t h i r d past l i t . . . (p. 52) (Shanghai) 75 The short thought in the present time refers to men following women on the streets as induced by, in her view, the Communist regime. Another instance occurs as the only l i n k to the present time inside the long memory (in the second part of the narrative) which otherwise moves only between various pasts. Just being poor was a l l right too, she had t h i r d past thought (Shanghai) That was l a t e r , f i r s t the c i t y people did not present time know the harm to come. The reason why her s i s t e r and her husband t h i r d past moved to Hong Kong was also because they (Shanghai) were not young anymore . . . (p. 60) In t his case the comment refers to the harsh conditions under the new government. These quick returns to the present give a sense of how strongly Luozhen resents the Communist regime in China. Even when her thoughts are immersed i n the past and occupied with other events, they remind her of the reason why she l e f t her country. We w i l l note more about her attitude toward Communism l a t e r on. Temporal s h i f t s may in some cases i n i t i a l l y appear as short memory flashes but then continue with a whole series of events without returning to the o r i g i n a l p o s i t i o n . Such memory strands occur following the two examples of the "fuzzy" temporal t r a n s i t i o n within a paragraph. Her comparison of the boat to the passageway of a hotel and to the bridge of Lake Luo retreats to another past i n Canton which in turn leads to an e a r l i e r event i n Shanghai without coming back to her observations of the 76 boat. The memory of her room in Hong Kong which was triggered by her thoughts about the cockroaches never returns to the same time at night on the boat but develops the memory into a stretch of consecutive action in the past ending six pages l a t e r and reaching the present time at a d i f f e r e n t point than the o r i g i n a l s t a r t . An analysis of the temporal s h i f t s within the narrative represents s t i l l an "outside" approach to the story i n i t s attempt to see how the narrative s t r u c t u r a l l y r e f l e c t s the movements of the mind. When we l a t e r turn to the thoughts themselves, that i s , f i r s t how they trig g e r each other and then in which order they appear, we w i l l get closer to the " i n s i d e " of the story and can see how the thoughts r e f l e c t Luozhen's personality. Memories of- the past can be triggered by sim i l a r events in the present time or by s i m i l a r i t i e s in the past time, in which l a t t e r case the memory brings her back to an even e a r l i e r past. In the present time for example, the B r i t i s h Indian man on the boat remind Luozhen of people of mixed races at her job. At f i r s t sight Luozhen had a kind of mutual recognition with him—of somebody working as a low clerk i n a foreign firm. In the firm where she was working there were people of mixed blood, . . . (pp. 53-54) In the second past in Canton Luozhen i s annoyed at men bothering her, an incident which triggers her memory of a si m i l a r event i n Shanghai ( t h i r d past). If these were only Cantonese discriminating against people from other provinces, . . ., how could i t be l i k e that i n Shanghai too? . . . Once there had been a t a l l thin man . . . (p. 51) 77 The long memory stretch in the second part of the story i s n a r r a t i v e l y hinged to the present time by Luozhen s t a r t i n g to type (p. 55) and p u l l i n g the finish e d l e t t e r out of the machine (p. 66). The action framing this part i s Luozhen typing; the thought setting i t off i s the Norwegian s a i l o r . She started typing again. The blond man action fi n i s h e d r o l l i n g up the rope and l e f t . Northern Europeans were very casual in their thought r e l a t i o n s between the sexes, they thought of nothing of i t , he had act u a l l y l i v e d up to thei r reputation. She could not help thinking about Mrs. Niu association that time on the ship. (p. 55) Both elements, the outward action (typing) and the thought connection to the present (the blond s a i l o r ) occur again at the end as her thoughts dip into the past. She had finish e d typing the l e t t e r , pulled i t action out of the machine and read i t once over. Somebody knocked at the door. She was s t a r t l e d . Could i t be that s a i l o r coming for her? (p. 66) thought The narrative within t h i s part runs smoothly between the fourth and the t h i r d past (Fanny and Adrian abroad, th e i r l i f e i n Shanghai upon the i r return) and then alternates between the th i r d and the f i r s t past (Luozhen i n r e l a t i o n to Fanny i n Hong Kong and to Adrian i n Shanghai). After her return to the present time her memory s p i l l s over into the thir d part of the n a r r a t i v e , this time triggered by l i n k s i n the present, showing that what happened between Fanny, Adrian and her preoccupies her mind most. 78 Similar to other parts of the narrative, the various pasts inside the memory are connected either by associative links of s i m i l a r i t i e s , or by l o g i c a l sequential jumps. The difference with the rest of the body of the narrative i s that the pasts do not l i n k up with the present within the memory stretch. In the f i r s t category f o r example i s Adrian's bed which Luozhen sees i n Hong Kong, reminds her of Adrian i n Shanghai. It seemed the two white lacquered single beds had been the daughters' beds when they were small, the empty one must be Adrian's. In Shanghai Adrian was l i v i n g at his brother's house, . . . (p. 62) Into the second category f a l l s the moment when her s i s t e r t e l l s her about Fanny on the boat (p. 60) succeeded by Luozhen's thoughts about the same event ("She had probably gone only once, . . . s i s t e r had probably never told her brother-in-law . . .") and followed by the temporal jump but nar r a t i v e l y sequential connection. "Because she was respecting that secret, when Luozhen saw Fanny i n Hong Kong, she had actually forgotten about the i n c i d e n t — " (p.61). The narrative jumps from the third to the f i r s t past but i s l o g i c a l within the content of the story. One gets the sense that the narrative could be cut into sections at the temporal junctions and rearranged into the chronological order of the story (see such an exercise on pages 92-97). One such clear example i s the f i r s t mention of the second past, the incident by the bridge at Luohu (on page 48) which chronologically continues on page 61. She thanked him again and again and wanted to give him some money, but he waved his hand and refused to accept i t . (p. 49) 79 As soon as Luozhen had l e f t the mainland she had gone straight to Fanny's place . . . (p. 61), or the example cited previously of Luozhen s t a r t i n g to type on page 55 and f i n i s h i n g on page 66 with the action i n the present time continuing where i t l e f t off eleven pages e a r l i e r . There are twenty-three temporal s h i f t s in the narrative (thoughts triggered by si m i l a r events i n the present or the past, or l o g i c a l sequential jumps) of which seven are temporal breaks. In a schema, the narrative l i n k s would look something l i k e t h i s : A. luggage st i c k e r s on s i s t e r ' s trunk C. . . . boat l i k e tunnel E. 3./Train to Canton, streets i n Canton, men G. 5./Lunch with couple, be of mixed blood 1. . + B. (Luozhen's position in her (p. 48) family) + foreigners . . . 2. •+ D. bridge from Canton to (p. 4 8) Hong Kong (over Lake Luo) 4. F. man followed her in (p. 51) Shanghai 6. •>• H people of mixed races at (p. 54) her job. English customs . . . on deck, room, types, Norwegian s a i l o r K. M. 0. • • • Fanny and Adrian abroad, s i s t e r t e l l s her about Fanny on boat . . . Fanny's l i f e has changed (poor) . . . Fanny shows Luozhen her room Adrian's bed . . . he accompanies to B r i t i s h Embassy, pleading look 7. •*• J . Fanny on boat with (p. 5 5) captain . . . 8. •*• L. in Hongkong forgot about (p. 61) i t . . . 9. -• N. Adrian already told them (p. 6 2) i n Shanghai (mangoes from Taiwan) « - • . . . 10. -»• P. Adrian in Shanghai . . . (p. 62) 11. •»• R. i n Hong Kong she t e l l s (p. 64) Fanny . . . 80 W. daughter's reaction 13./Finished typing, Fanglin v i s i t s Luozhen . . . Fanglin re s p e c t f u l towards husband, mixed marriages Y. 16./Louzhen asks Fanglin how she met husband A' 18./At night a f r a i d of cockroaches C Fanny has died E' 21./Boat winds around i s l a n d s , waiter looks worried 12. + (p. 65) 14. + (p. 67) 15. - (p. 68) 17. (p. 70) 19. • + (p. 71) 20. (p. 74) 22. +• (p. 76) T. Luozhen does not want to get married, parties at work. V. ( S i s t e r ' s words about typing) «- they look at pictures . . . X. mixed marriages at work, Fanglin resembles Miss Fan Z. imagines how, f i n i s h book B' Cockroaches in her room in Hong Kong D' She attends ceremony tr a v e l to forget . . . F' Adrian had looked worried G' 23./at table contact worse . . . thoughts about the future. ( * temporal s h i f t /temporal break . . . temporal continuation •*" return to time on l e f t s i d e ) . Many of the temporal s h i f t s are scattered thoughts ( b i t s of memories and hypothetical thoughts as for example those about Fanglin's and L i Chaxun's past) without any exact time placement in the past or chronological follow-up. A l l the memories recurring in the narrative about Shanghai related to her own past, for example, are not linked together, and the reader can only roughly place them into a chronological order. The event of the man following her i n Shanghai for example would probaly have happened af t e r she l o s t her job because i t i s mentioned she came back from tutoring, an occupation she might have taken on to get some income. The event though, i s mentioned e a r l i e r i n the narrative than the b i t s of memories about her job. The long memory stretch within the 81 various pasts in the second part of the narrative give more the impression of a story with a chronological follow-up which eventually reaches the present time beyond the boundaries of the memory stretch . Fanny's and Adrian's past merges with Luozhen's past to form the story within the story of the present time. They provide a l l necessary (and less 'necessary) background to understand why she i s on a boat t r i p to Japan. There are some strands of continuation within the memories of her job i n Shanghai i n spite of the fact that each of these i s triggered by a d i f f e r e n t event in the present or the past (6. people of mixed blood, 12. Luozhen's thoughts about marriage, 15. mixed marriages at work). In a l l of these memories a bit more information i s revealed about Mr. K a l i , the manager of the firm where she worked. He seems to have a l i k i n g for her because he "always l i k e d to look for her and tease her" during the Christmas partie s (p. 65) and although she finds him good looking (p. 54) and would have brought him parcels to the concentration camp li k e his secretary Miss Fan who eventually got married to hira did, she does not seem to have any further interest in him. The thoughts about him always cross her mind in passing, among a l l the other events of that memory. If she has an interest i n him at a l l ("After the war she had often thought about this conversation. If she had been his secretary, she thought, she would also have brought him parcels." p. 70), i t i s not strong enough for her to marry him ("She had not married, . . . and she . . . did not want to" (p. 65). The strands of loose chronological follow-ups within the separated memories dealing with her job i n Shanghai are some of the clues that 82 provide us with information about Louzhen's personality (her position toward marriage and men). Her memories about Fanny and Adrian i n Shanghai and Hong Kong on the other hand are held together more i n t h e i r follow-up (alternate switches between t h i r d and second past), and are embedded into the l i n k s of Luozhen typing without returns to the present in between. This shows that these thoughts preoccupy her more (the events are also more recent than those at her job i n Shanghai). Nevertheless, there are also some jumps from thought to thought within the retreat into the past i n the second part of the narrative, strands which f i r s t seem to lead nowhere but are picked up l a t e r i n the memory. "Adrian had a slow way of t a l k i n g , when he phoned home he would open his mouth and say: 'Eh', dragging out the 'Eh' (p. 58). This piece of information about Adrian exists at that point without further elaboration. At a l a t e r moment we learn that away from his wife he "can talk now, he i s r e a l l y blossoming" (p. 62), implying that maybe he r e a l l y has no desire to return to his wife i n Hong Kong because he f e e l s overpowered by her. What kind of thoughts go through Louzhen's mind and in which order they appear in the n a r r a t i v e , may give us clues to Luozhen's personality and her present state of mind. In the f i r s t part of the narrative Luozhen i s kept r e l a t i v e l y busy i n the present time (the waiter, the " l i v i n g sofa" and the other passengers on the boat) so that her thoughts switch to pasts (her journey out of the mainland, her job s i t u a t i o n ) and the immediate future (she hopes for a quiet t r i p ) , thoughts which are a l l associated with each other or to the present, but have no chronological connection with each other. Once she s i t s down by herself in her room (or i s about 83 to f a l l asleep in the evening), her mind has the freedom to think about things that have affected her in the recent past (Fanny and Adrian in Shanghai and Hong Kong). The fact that her outward action i s typing does not seem to d i s t r a c t her thoughts because she i s an experienced t y p i s t . From the arrangement of Luozhen's thoughts about Fanny and Adrian for example, the reader can i n f e r that Luozhen i s a modern and independent woman. T h e . f i r s t memory she has about Fanny i s "Mrs. Niu that time on the ship" (p. 55) thoughts which point to Fanny's sexual encounter with the captain as revealed l a t e r i n the narrative (p. 60). Her i n i t i a l thoughts about the incident, however, stop there and swing back to a much e a r l i e r time of Fanny's and Adrian's days abroad and the period in Shanghai after their return, providing some background to these two characters. This could point to the fact that Luozhen i s not preoccupied or shocked about Fanny's secret v i s i t with the captain. When her thoughts further in the narrative reach the actual moment of her s i s t e r t e l l i n g her the news, her reaction i s to be relaxed and s l i g h t l y i n t r i g u e d . Luozhen heard this and smiled too, she did not say anything. She did not want to ask which country the ship was from, i f she asked.she f e l t the secrecy would be broken, i t would not seem a female ghost had walked quietly around uninvolved in any moral question, (p. 60) When she sees Fanny l a t e r i n Hong Kong the incident has slipped into her subconsciousness. Because she respected that secret, when Luozhen saw Fanny i n Hong Kong, she had ac t u a l l y forgotten about the incident (p. 61) 84 Her a r r i v a l in Hong Kong in the above example ( i n f a c t , i t is mentioned twice on the same page), coincides temporally with her a r r i v a l i n Hong Kong appearing four pages l a t e r i n the narrative in a s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t context. The narrative has switched to Luozhen and Adrian i n Shanghai. She had noticed his pleading look on the bus not to t e l l Fanny about his l i f e i n Shanghai, and although she decided not to say anything, she changed her mind. She did not expect that in the f i r s t night i n Hong Kong she would be talking with Fanny in the dark bedroom . . . That Adrian was r e a l l y annoying. . . . She soon told her everything.(p. 64) We can thus i n f e r that by the time Luozhen arrives i n Hong Kong, she knows that Fanny's and Adrian's marriage is not harmonious. She also knows the i r personal secrets, things which both would rather keep from each other: she knows that Fanny went to v i s i t the captain at night on the boat and that Adrian ( i n Fanny's words) "says there i s no way for him to [leave the mainland] but a c t u a l l y . . . he does not want to come out" (p. 64). Because of the time that has passed between the moment she learns about Fanny and the captain, and her a r r i v a l i n Hong Kong, plus her i n i t i a l attitude toward the incident (respect for the secret and not much i n t e r e s t ) , she never t e l l s Adrian about i t or embarrasses Fanny with her knowledge of i t . She does, however, reveal Adrian's secret because of her sense of "having a mission" ever since reaching Hong Kong (p. 64) and because she might have thought i n a manner si m i l a r to her s i s t e r and her brother-in-law who looked down on Adrian for accepting the job in Shanghai (p. 63) rather than, making e f f o r t s to j o i n his wife i n Hong Kong. 85 The fact that the very f i r s t memory she has about Fanny is "Mrs. Niu on the boat" and not the most recent event, that i s , Fanny's death and the death ceremony, might suggest that Luozhen does not f e e l responsible for Fanny's death by having told her about Adrian i n Shanghai. Luozhen's sense of independence i s obvious by her very decision to leave her country and her family behind f o r Japan and by her views about marriage. "She had not married, her s i s t e r blamed i t on the fact that she had not entered u n i v e r s i t y . . . she herself did not want to [get to know somebody]" (p. 65). Also i n the present action we can see that she has a mind of her own and l i k e s to be by h e r s e l f . . . . But she valued this time i n the vacuum tube too much, with nothing to worry about, euphorically comfortable, i t only seemed l i k e once one sat down one could f e e l how t o t a l l y exhaused and t i r e d one was. (p. 77) After a l l the years of working and the la s t agitated months of preparations to leave her country, the ten days on the boat represent a period in which she can "completely r e l i n q u i s h any r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and f e e l carefree" (p. 54) before a l i f e of new challenges and work await her i n Japan. The boat t r i p thus represents for Luozhen a t r a n s i t i o n from a past she wants to leave behind to an uncertain and rather scary future. Boarding a ship and having the distance of an ocean behind oneself, and sometimes the a i r and the time can make people forget, (p. 75) The terror of leading a wandering l i f e was locked outside, so near and yet so f a r , so very f ar away and uncertain, (p. 78) 86 Luozhen may wish to leave the troubles of her family behind her, her i n i t i a l move though, was because of the new government i n China. She voices her clearest statement against the Communist regime when she ponders about men assaulting women in the c i t y s t r e e t s . She thought i t was a f e e l i n g of the apocalypse. When the Communists f i r s t came, the simple townspeople did not know how t e r r i b l e they were, but i n two or three years they knew how things stood. After putting t h e i r own fates i n someone else's hands, they were held firmly by the neck, they sort of wriggled l i k e insects, and they would do whatever they could when they had the chance, (p. 53) The same thought appears i n a shortened version i n her longest dip into the past (part two) as the only return to the present, giving a sense of how strong she feels against the new government. ("That was l a t e r , f i r s t the small c i t y people did not know what was going to happen" (p. 60)). While the atmosphere of mutual d i s t r u s t and fear under the Communist regime as portrayed in the story may r e f l e c t the actual experience of c i t y people (". . . in these years even a good friend did not dare say a few more meaningful words." (p. 63) and see quotations above), her thinking of the Communist regime being the p a r t i c u l a r cause for men following and bothering women on the st r e e t s , seems far-fetched. . . . i n Shanghai t h i s was happening now too, i n broad daylight i n the crowded streets with the L i b e r a t i o n Army on sentry, men dared to be f r i v o l o u s toward women, (p. 50) But those without the t r i c k of the photograph would t a i l one too, i t was becoming a fashion of the times. She thought i t was a f e e l i n g of the apocalypse. When the Communists f i r s t came the simple townspeople did not know how t e r r i b l e they were, but i n two or three years they knew how things stood, (p. 53) 67 The actual reason seems to find an explantion in the conversation of Mrs. Xun and Mrs. Wu in "Happy Reunion". " . . . when women were f i r s t coming out onto the streets they often complained that somebody was following them but afterwards i t was not heard so much anymore" (p. 109). Thus what Luozhen i s experiencing might s t i l l be a holdover from the period when men were getting used to seeing women walking f r e e l y on the streets rather than the new government inbuing in them a new 'women hatred'. It does, however, perhaps make sense that when people are put under pressure from "above" they w i l l look for somebody seemingly weaker than themselves to oppress. Luozhen i s quite well read. In the present time she compares Mr. L i on the boat to a character in a novel by Charles Dickens (p. 68), and she views the world and the people around her mindful of Somerset Maugham's prose. The boat with i t s 1920s to 1930s atmosphere, i t s crew and passengers, and the food served remind her of the atmosphere in Maugham's prose. When she cannot figure out the personality of Mrs. L i she thinks: "There must be a story inside, one that was missing from a c o l l e c t i o n of Somerset Maugham's s t o r i e s " (p. 54). She seems a b i t too g u l l i b l e , a b i t too easy i n her evaluation of l i f e around her based on what she has read. "Maugham had said that, because of a self-abasing psychology, people of mixed races were a l l overly s e n s i t i v e . " (p. 78). She reasons thus as she thinks about Mr. L i : "He must have talked to her i n priva t e , blaming her fo r bringing shame onto h e r s e l f . " Also i n her assumptions about his past she seems overly harsh. "His father had begotten this l i t t l e dark person, i t was not l i k e l y he had wanted to keep him at his side, but at least he had given him some e d u c a t i o n — " (p. 70). 88 The reader has access into Luozhen's mind during the whole of the narrative, receiving thereby pieces of information about her personality and her past. Whenever she wonders how she appears to other people (to the waiter (p. 47) and to the Cantonese (p. 50), the reader obtains a picture of her physical appearance. Twice the minds of other character's are opened to give the reader an outside opinion of Luozhen, the true value of which the reader has to evaluate according to what s/he knows of her. When Luozhen i s about to leave Fanny's funeral for example, the maid blames Luozhen for Fanny's death. "Hadn't she heard i t from young Mistress and Young Master: i t had been she who who had t o l d Mistress everything . . . How could she be that a person!" (p. 75). The reader knows that Luozhen herself thinks she does not know how to deal with people ("She behaved so unharmoniously and so unexpectedly toward people . . ." p. 61), and that she thinks she acted too rashly whe she was handed the envelope at the ceremony (". . . in her emotions her nerves had confused her so that her action had been unreasonable" p. 75), but the reader i s not i n c l i n e d to blame Luozhen for Fanny's death because we know that Fanny appreciated Luozhen t e l l i n g her. "Ever since she had rendered Fanny a service by t e l l i n g her about Adrian, Fanny talked to her in a gentle voice" p. 7 2). Had Fanny been perturbed by the news to the point of i t d r i v i n g her to her death, she probably would not have made the e f f o r t to t a l k to Luozhen i n a "gentle voice". The reader, however, can believe the waiter's view of Luozhen on the boat. The waiter, seeing that the meals were so bad, but that she was eating everything, and that she had no companion, but was so s a t i s f i e d with i t a l l , was wondering how she could possibly be an experienced world t r a v e l l e r . (p. 77) 89 We can believe the waiter's view of her because we have found out that Luozhen i s happy on her own and we know from her own words that she enjoys the period of ten days " l i v i n g i n a vacuum tube" (p. 77). The "experimental" format of this story provides the reader with an approximate idea of Luozhen's personality at the time of her journey to Japan. The picture i s l e f t r e l a t i v e l y vague as the impression is given of Luozhen's random thoughts, without enough r e p e t i t i o n i n the information (acting as reinforcement) to supply a d e f i n i t e image of her. Her personality i s , l i k e r e a l human beings, a bi t ambiguous, a mixture of many personality t r a i t s . She i s on the one hand a modern woman with quite a free and independent mind, and on the other hand a bi t fast i n her judgements. 90 APPENDIX TO CHAPTER 3 FLOWERS AND PISTILS FLOATING ON THE WAVES Narrative 1. On boat, rooms, Cantonese waiter. Luozhen's thoughts. 2. Luggage with st i c k e r s - her p o s i t i o n i n her family. 3. Cockroaches in bed, Norwegian f r e i g h t e r travels i n A s i a . 4. Observes two foreigners boarding, hopes for quiet t r i p . 5. Boat with 1920s, 1930s atmosphere, l i k e tunnel - Bridge over in Lake Luo. 6. Bridge i n Lake Luo, porters at end of bridge, her porter runs, they reach Hong Kong. 7. Train to Canton, man's eyes, young woman sings, her thoughts. 8. In Canton, d e s c r i p t i o n hotel and st r e e t s , men assault her, thoughts. 9. In Shanghai men act f r i v o l o u s towards women on st r e e t s . 10. Man h i t s her head on, others whistle, she goes back to hotel, her description. 11. Man followed her i n Shanghai (photo), movie, he disappears, her thoughts. 12. Waiter c a l l s for lunch, only three people in second class, her impression of the couple (description, no conversation, he of mixed blood). 13 At her job, people of mixed blood. 14. No names addressed at table (English custom). After lunch she looks into the sea. 15. In her room she types, Norwegian s a i l a r , thoughts ( p i c t u r e , Europeans and sex). 16. Thinks about oldest s i s t e r on the boat, she and her husband abroad. Fanny buys a car, they i n v i t e guests for dinner. 17. Return to Shanghai, house cook, children, Adrian and s u i t s . 91 18. Luozhen and s i s t e r talk about Fanny and Adrian. 19. Description Fanny, parties for daughters to marry. 20. Niu family moves to Hong Kong, her thoughts about those with money, and Communism. 21. Luozhen loses job, prepares to leave the country. 22. Si s t e r t e l l s her about Fanny on the boat, her thoughts. 23. In Hong Kong Luozhen has forgotten about the incident (Fanny on boat). 24. She goes straight to Fanny, looks for room, Fanny's l i f e has changed. 25. Adrian returned to Shanghai, says business in Hong Kong slowed down. 26. Meagre dinner at Fanny's, thoughts. 27. Somebody had brought mangoes from Taiwan for Fanny. 28. Fanny shows Luozhen her room, she sees Adrian's bed. 29. Adrian in Shanghai for more than a year, dancing, works in a factory, he i s attacked, t e l l s them about hard times in prison. 30. When Luozhen goes to Hong Kong, Adrian has been in and out of prison many times. 31. Luozhen gets her e x i t - v i s a by shedding tears. 32. Luozhen and Adrian on bus to B r i t i s h Embassy, his pleading look. 33. In Hong Kong she can not help but t e l l Fanny, Fanny's reaction, next day she t e l l s her daughter, her reaction ( s p i n s t e r ) . 34. During l a s t year of middle school chose typing, never married, does not want to marry. 35. Her job, i n t e r n a t i o n a l spinster business. Lives together with her s i s t e r and her brother-in-law. 36. Christmas party at work, Mr. K a l i l i k e s looking for her, his des c r i p t i o n . 37. She has fi n i s h e d typing her l e t t e r , somebody knocks. Fanglin takes her l e t t e r to show her husband, memory of s i s t e r ' s words about typing. 38. Fanglin brings photo album, pictures of her family, one of husband, Luozhen's thoughts. 92 39. Mixed marriage at job, Cantonese secretary (Miss Fan) with Mr. K a l i . AO. She heard news from Miss Solomon when she v i s i t e d her (description her and her s i s t e r ) . 41. Asks how she met husband, imagines how, thinks about language. 42. At night a f r a i d of cockroaches. 43. In Hong Kong she had bought spray can for cockroaches in her room, slept on f l o o r , the Y i ' s , young couple. 44. Takes showers at Fanny's, moves to new place, no contact with Fanny, then t e l l s her wants to go to Japan, Fanny's reaction. 45. Does not v i s i t her for a while, receives death notice, wonders, goes to death ceremony, servant's envelope, servants thoughts. 46. Boards a ship to forget, thoughts about t r a v e l . 47. Boat winds around islands, she observes workers on pier. 48. Boat stops at small is l a n d , Japanese board. 49. She enjoys ten days on boat, waiter worried. 50. Adrian had looked worried, believed she would not say anything to Fanny. 51. At table contact with Mr. and Mrs. L i not as good, because she did not return v i s i t . Thoughts about what she could have done. 52. Before boat reaches Japan, high waves (at dinner table talk again). 53. She hears them s p i t after dinner. Thoughts, f e a r f u l of world outside (future). 93 FLOWERS AND PISTILS FLOATING ON THE WAVES Story ABROAD 16. Thinks about oldest s i s t e r on the boat, she and her husband abroad. Fanny buys a car, they i n v i t e guests for dinner. SHANGHAI 17. Return to Shanghai, house cook, chil d r e n , Adrian and s u i t s . 18. Luozhen and s i s t e r talk about Fanny and Adrian. 27. Somebody had brought mangoes from Taiwan for Fanny. 3A. During l a s t year of middle school chose typing, never married, does not want to marry. 19. Description Fanny, parties for daughters to marry. 20. Niu family moves to Hong Kong, her thoughts about those with money, and Communism. 22. Sister t e l l s her about Fanny on the boat, her thoughts. 25. Adrian returned to Shanghai, says business i n Hong Kong slowed down. 29. Adrian in Shanghai for more than ,a year, dancing, works in a factory, he i s attacked, t e l l s them about hard times in prison. 13. At her job, people of mixed blood. 35. Her job in t e r n a t i o n a l spinster business. Lives together with her s i s t e r and her brother-in-law. 36. Christmas party at work, Mr. K a l i l i k e s looking for her, his d e s c r i p t i o n . 39. Mixed marriage at job, Cantonese secretary (Miss Fan) with Mr. K a l i . AO. She heard news from Miss Solomon when she v i s i t e d her (description her and her s i s t e r ) . 9. In Shanghai men act f r i v o l o u s towards women on st r e e t s . 94 11. Man followed her in Shanghai (photo), movie, he disappears, her thoughts. 21. Luozhen loses job, prepares to leave the country. 31. Luozhen gets her e x i t - v i s a by shedding tears. 32. Luozhen and Adrian on bus to B r i t i s h Embassy, his pleading look. 50. Adrian had looked worried, believed she would not say anything to Fanny. CANTON 7. Train to Canton, man's eyes, young woman sings, her thoughts. 8. In Canton, des c r i p t i o n hotel and st r e e t s , men assault her, thoughts. 10. Man h i t s her head on, others whistle, she goes back to hotel, her descri p t i o n . 6. , Bridge over Lake Luo, porters at end of bridge, her porter runs, they reach Hong Kong. HONG KONG 24. She goes straight to Fanny, looks for room, Fanny's l i f e has changed. 30. When Luozhen goes to Hong Kong, Adrian has been i n and out of prison many times. 23. In Hong Kong Luozhen has forgotten about the incident (Fanny on boat). 26. Meagre dinner i n Fanny's, thoughts. 28. Fanny shows Luozhen her room, she sees Adrian's bed. 33.. In Hong Kong she can not help but t e l l Fanny, Fanny's reaction, next day she t e l l s her daughter, her reaction ( s p i n s t e r ) . 43. In Hong Kong she had bought spray can for cockroaches i n her room, slept on f l o o r , the Y i ' s , young couple. 44. Takes showers at Fanny's, moves to new place, no contact with Fanny, then t e l l s her wants to go to Japan, Fanny's reaction. 95 45. Does not v i s i t her for a while, receives death notice, wonders, goes to death ceremony, servant's envelope, servants thoughts. 46. Board a ship to forget, thoughts about t r a v e l . PRESENT TIME ON BOAT 1. On boat, rooms, Cantonese waiter. Luozhen's thoughts. 2. Luggage with stickers - her p o s i t i o n i n her family. 3. Cockroaches in bed, Norwegian f r e i g h t e r travels i n Asia. 4. Observes two foreigners boarding, hopes for quiet t r i p . 5. Boat with 1920s, 1930s atmosphere, l i k e tunnel - Bridge over Lake Luo. 12. Waiter c a l l s for lunch, only three people in second class, her impression of the couple (d e s c r i p t i o n , no conversation, he of mixed blood. 14. No names addressed at table (English custom). After lunch she looks into the sea. 15. In her room she types, Norwegian s a i l a r , thoughts (picture, Europeans and sex). 34. During l a s t year of middle school chose typing, never married, does not want to marry. 38. Fanglin brings photo album, pictures of her family, one of husband, Luozhen's thoughts. 41. Asks how she met husband, imagines how, thinks about language. 42. At night a f r a i d of cockroaches. 47. Boat winds around islands, she observes workers on p i e r . 48. Boat stops at small i s l a n d , Japanese board. 49. She enjoys ten days on boat, waiter worried. 51. At table contact with Mr. and Mrs. L i not as good, because she did not return v i s i t . Thoughts about what could have done. 52. Before boat reaches Japan, high waves (at dinner table talk again). 53. She hears them spi t after dinner. Thoughts, f e a r f u l of world outside (future). 96 CHAPTER 4 "Happy Reunion": A Conversation This story gives the strongest i l l u s i o n of a s i t u a t i o n in real l i f e by v i r t u e of i t s r e a l i s t i c treatment of the action i n the present time. The story i s r e l a t i v e l y banal (two women and the daughter of one of them chat for a few hours one afternoon, the husband of the second woman drops by l a t e r and joins them in the conversation. A few months after that afternoon a l l four characters are shown for a short time in a very s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n ) , but what happens i n the minds of the characters, textually appearing between the spoken words, brings i n the larger dimension of the character's inner l i v e s and the i r pasts. The story i s r e a l i s t i c i n that i n a real dialogue l i k e this one we would hear what other people say but we would not know what they are thinking. It i s the role of the narrator to open the characters' minds and t e l l the reader a l l the information the characters do not t e l l each other because they already know i t , as well as give information the characters may only suspect about each other or do not know at a l l . The narrator always goes "with" the action (revealing something when i t comes up i n the action of the story) without independently creating an atmosphere around the characters into which to embed them. The dialogues by themselves are not relevant to the f i n a l meaning of the story, they are only an extension of the characters' thoughts about the present and the past. (Mrs. Xun talks more i n the present time than Mrs. Wu, the past reveals why Mrs. Wu l e t s Mrs. Xun talk more). These memories extend the 97 furthest into an unspecified time of Mrs. Wu's and Mrs. Xun's girlhood. The past i n this story cannot be neatly grouped into blocks of time according to the i r l o cation as i n "Flowers and P i s t i l s " (and to a lesser extent i n "Lust and Abstinence") as three characters here are thinking about various locations and d i f f e r e n t times (even though these sometimes coincide) and the maze therefore i s more complex. This mingling of thoughts, however, strengthens the impression of a r e a l i s t i c s i t u a t i o n . The thoughts in the characters' minds take s p l i t seconds, paradoxically, however, they take up more textual space than the few comments the narrator makes about the characters' actions, actions which r e a l i s t i c a l l y would take up more story-time. When viewed next to the two other experimental s t o r i e s though, the action i n the present time of t h i s story i s the most limited and the plot the most s t a t i c due to i t s subject matter (conversation). The mentioned and implied actions of the story amount to roughtly the same number as in "Flowers and P i s t i l s " ^ but they tend to be actions of shorter duration, and because they are performed by d i f f e r e n t characters rather than one character, they give the impression of brief moments interspersed within longer periods of physical immobility ( t a l k i n g and thinking). Another difference from to the other two experimental s t o r i e s ^ M r s . Xun arr i v e s (greetings) 2. the two cousins search each others' heads for white hair 3. Mrs. Xun smokes 4. Mrs. Xun looks at her shoes 5. Mrs. Xun t r i e s on a Qipao 6. Mrs. Wu places an orange on the oven, af t e r she has eaten the orange she places the peels on the l i d of the oven 7. the three women have dinner (implied) 8. Shaopu arrives 9. Yuanmei smokes 10. Yuanmei fetches calendars 11. Mrs. Xun choses one 12. Mrs. Wu leaves to answer a telephone c a l l 13. she returns 14. Mrs. Wu receives injections (implied) 15. Shaopu yawns. 98 l i e s in the fact that there are three main characters here, each with th e i r respective background and t h e i r present state of mind revealed through t h e i r thoughts, a l l of which are interwoven due to their close family t i e s . Instead of having one character remembering and r e f l e c t i n g on her own past ( J i a z h i ) or one character thinking about other people's pasts in addition to her own past (Luozhen), there are now three main characters r e f l e c t i n g on t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l pasts and each other's (Mrs. Xun, Mrs. Wu and Yuanmei). Shaofu arrives in the l a s t t h i r d of the story and although he contributes to the conversation and reveals some of his personality through his thoughts, his main function i s to strengthen the role of Mrs. Xun in underlining what she stands for in a broader sense. Yuanmei is the character with the most distance from the present s i t u a t i o n , at various points in the narrative she is shown in a spectator's p o s i t i o n , r e f l e c t i n g on the action the two cousins provide. Because of her younger age and therefore d i f f e r e n t experience, and her t a c i t u r n state of mind (she feels dejected because a l l those of her age group in her family are studying abroad), she has a greater detachment from the s i t u a t i o n than the two older cousins involved in exchanging news. She provides the necessary d i f f e r e n t perspective to the older generation's without which the story would seem f l a t t e r . The subject matter resembles Zhang A i l i n g ' s e a r l i e r story "Waiting" written i n 1944, the action of which also u n r o l l s mainly in form of conversation between the characters. The difference between the two st o r i e s though, l i e s i n the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c temporal switches between present and past i n the narrative of the experimental story compared to 99 the l i n e a r development of "Waiting". In both stories the characters' inner l i v e s are revealed, but i n "Waiting" the characterization and the actions described by the narrator dominate the characters' thoughts whereas i n "Happy Reunion" the characters' thoughts about present and past dominate everything e l s e . Also, while both stories have about the same story-time (a few hours of one day), "Waiting", i n s p i t e of i t s ' s t a t i c ' t i t l e , has a more dynamic present-time action due to the coming and going of the patients. "Happy Reunion" i n contrast has an almost 'inert' present time action (again in spite of a t i t l e that could suggest animated t a l k i n g and action), however, because of the "hidden" elements of thoughts and memories happening beyond the action of the present time, the story has an a d d i t i o n a l f l u i d i t y and wider temporal scope. This could explain why the story i s double the length of "Waiting." In "Waiting" the narrator plays an important role in providing the atmosphere of the gloomy waiting room and of embedding the characters into the cheerlessness and desperation of wartime. The windows of the waiting room were closed, yellowed str i p s of old newspapers were pasted crosswide on the windows to seal them in case of a i r raids. Outside i t was a l i g h t and cloudy day, the colour of the sky seemed just l i k e a sheet of white paper glued onto the window panes. (p.123) The narrator has an obvious guiding role by s e l e c t i n g what the reader i s to v i s u a l i z e and by bringing an i r o n i c tone into the narrative, selecting what the reader i s to know. He moves with a cinematic eye through the s e t t i n g of the story, describing each character minutely from the outside and chosing to focus on the inner l i v e s of some of them (Mrs. X i ) . For 100 most characters he 'paves the way' to their entrance, describing them before they start to act (for example Mrs. Pang and her daughter Afang p.110), or their way of t a l k i n g before they start to t a l k ("After quite a while, he suddenly turned his head around, looked at the maid and spoke up—one could hardly believe that these words were coming out of the mouth of a f i v e or six year old c h i l d : 'I don't want to buy mantou. Mantou don't taste good." (pp. 109-110)). The reader f i r s t hears other characters before receiving a description of them. Mr. Pang for example i s f i r s t described talking to Mr. Gao, interpreted and mocked by the narrator, before he appears ("Mr. Pang laughed and recited a s t r i n g of formulas put into verse. The seven characters in Mr. Pang's mouth took on weight, l i k e amber pearls of a rosary, they had the flavour of an old lady's room; venerable, peaceful, f u l l of grace. And to that Mr. Pang added backbone, nerve and s c i e n t i f i c explanation" (p. 109)). From the description of Mr. Pang's words the narrator moves to a selective view of his practice (cinematic focus). On the wall hung a picture of the human body drawn in perspective in a half western s t y l e . There also hung a license for p r a c t i s i n g Chinese medicine issued by the o f f i c e of hygiene, in a picture frame with a small photograph of Mr. Pang t h i r t y years e a r l i e r glued on. (p. 109 The narrator i s i r o n i c or outright s a r c a s t i c when he describes Mr. Pang. Mr. Pang had the broad yellow face of a l i o n , and a thick neck, the head and the neck formed one sturdy piece, no matter i f seen from the front or the back i t looked l i k e a fat man's knee. (p. 111). 101 The i r o n i c descriptions of external aspects of the characters and the comments on the i r manner of expressing themselves ("Mr. Pang seemed to be speaking very d e l i b e r a t e l y , smacking his tongue while choosing his fine words. It was as i f some chewing gum were stuck between his teeth.and he was trying to l i c k i t away with much e f f o r t ; he paused for a while (p. I l l ) ) serve to undermine t h e i r self-centered seriousness. The story.has, as Stephen Cheng has shown i n his study of Zhang A i l i n g ' s short s t o r i e s , an extended meaning beyond the "action" of the present time. "A story ostensibly about some middle aged women gathered in a c l i n i c waiting for th e i r appointments with the massage doctor, i s i n r e a l i t y a penetrating study of their "waiting" for the fulfilment of th e i r dreams that can never come true. The gloom i n the c l i n i c , the overcast sky in the wet afternoon, the shabby dresses worn by the women, a l l help to evoke a mood of f o r l o r n pathos."^1 True, many of the characters seem to be waiting for the war to end so that they can start new l i v e s . (Afang might have more chance to get new clothes after the war so that she can fin d the partner she wants, Mrs. X i wants the war to stop so that her husband can return, and the c h i l d i s coaxed into the massage with the words "Right, i n the future, when the p o l i t i c a l s i t u a t i o n has quietened down, y o u ' l l be getting married, but i f you don't i n v i t e me to the wedding fe a s t , I ' l l be angry!" (p. 122)). It seems, however, that the story also has a strong s o c i a l message, i n showing how people do not seem to 41Cheng, "Themes and Techniques" p. 181. 102 change the ways they interact with each other even though the p o l i t i c a l structure i s changing. Perhaps they hold on to their s o c i a l differences j u s t because the outside world i s in a turmoil. The narrator brings out these s o c i a l differences and the subtle ways they communicate their status to each other through strong characterizations. Each character brings an aura of his/her s o c i a l milieu and portrays i t s inherent a t t i t u d e s . Mrs. Tong for example expects p r e f e r e n t i a l treatment as soon as she enters the practice and pays more money to get an e a r l i e r turn. As she gets dressed the narrator describes her: "She extended one hand to take down her grey woolen knitted jacket from the hanger, pulled i t over unhurriedly and in one gust of wind had wrapped the whole room inside i t . " (p. 122), implying that she believes she i s at the center of the world. Mrs. Wang has the frozen smile of a small gloomy peaceful a l l e y and answers the doctor's and the other women's questions d o c i l y , almost frightened (p. 113). Mr. Pang has a patronizing, a t t i t u d e . "[He] always believed he could talk with people from any cl a s s , right away entering into other people's worlds" (p. 115). Once, however, they start t a l k i n g , they reveal a l l th e i r problems, bringing each of them down to the same desperate l e v e l of need for self-expression. Mrs. Xi for example, very soon penetrates Mrs. Tong's big a i r s . In her frustrated attempts to have Mrs. Tong l i s t e n to her problems, Mrs. Xi has changed her mind about her, she d i s l i k e s her out-right now. "[Mrs. Tong] handed Mrs. X i back the jacket that had covered her grand daughter, thanked her again not at a l l f e e l i n g the cold shoulder of the other woman . . . Her short jacket whisked by Mrs. Xi's 103 face and shoulder, Mrs. Xi dodged with an expression of disgust" (p. 122). When Mr. Gao's concubine has helped him l i k e a c h i l d into his clothes and overzealously says goodbye to the people i n the room one by one, the narrator comments "The women did not pay attention to her" (p. 112), making clear they a l l look down on her. The narrator's strong presence i s es p e c i a l l y f e l t when he conveys the character's desperation to the point of transforming the waiting room into a kitchen for a moment, and takes over the character's account when the character can not go on. Her eyes reddened and from her mouth only the cold swishing breathing sound of her old age came out. The f l o o r underneath her feet changed to the black and white kitchen t i l e f l o o r , the whole world seemed l i k e i t had been wiped with a damp clo t h , (pp. 119-120) Mrs. long can not continue talking for anger and resignation. 'I've been t h i r t y years i n his house, anything that had to be done, wasn't i t I who did i t a l l ? . . . ' . . . The parents-in-law who had given her the many hardships, . . . (p. 119) In "Waiting" thus, the emphasis i s on strong a narrator's presence for charac t e r i z a t i o n and commentary, and providing the atmosphere of the story into which the characters are embedded. In "Happy Reunion" the narrator i s less v i s i b l e , he stays i n the background, occasionally o f f e r i n g a longer external d e s c r i p t i o n (for example of Mrs. Xun i n the beginning of the narrative) or just b i t s and pieces ("Mrs. Wu used to be an ugly ducking" (p. 83), "Mrs. Wu was 104 wearing glasses" (p. 82)), and occasionally putting the reader into the picture in regard to something the characters already know. ("Of course she was s t i l l t a l k i n g about her mother-in-law" (p. 86), "She did not need to explain, Mrs. Wu knew of course knew what she was t a l k i n g about: . . ." (p. 95). The narrator i s a step behind the action, he describes or supplies information only when i t comes up in the dialogues. Even when he describes the room without the oven a few months aft e r the f i r s t afternoon, he does not seem to create an atmosphere "before the characters go into action"; the language he uses i s as terse as the s i t u a t i o n the characters find themselves i n , his presence is hardly f e l t . "The weather had become warm, they had dismantled the oven. The black iron oven did not f i t the modern decoration" (p. 109). The characters in this story have for the most part taken over the role of the narrator for i n t e r p r e t i n g and supplying past information and they do this through th e i r thoughts and memories. The reader therefore knows that the descriptions we get of the other characters, for example, are subjective. "[Mrs. Wu] had already seen Shaofu before that time . . . he was dark, short, and f a t , looked rather stupid but very conceited and with quite a temper" (p. 86). "Yuanmei was short sighted; when she looked over to Shaofu he looked round and dumpey—he was wearing a cotton gown and had no shoulders whatsoever—in the dim l i g h t of the lamp he looked earth coloured, a b i t dazed, l i k e a t a l l and upright a n t h i l l " (p. 101). As a l l four characters have t h e i r own views about each other, the reader receives various kinds of information about each, in the form of thoughts which reveal just, as much of these characters doing the thinking. One 105 of the reader's contributions in "Happy Reunion" therefore i s to trace the characters' p e r s o n a l i t i e s and h i s t o r i e s through the maze of the four d i f f e r e n t minds at work simultaneously and within the switches of past and present times. In "Waiting" the characters come together for the purpose of being massaged. The people waiting to take t h e i r turn do not chose whom they s i t next to in the waiting room; they might know each other from outside the confines of the room (Mrs. Tong and Mrs. Bao) or might have seen each other for a number of years by coming to the practice (Mrs. Xi has been coming for two years),but they are not as intimately connected as the characters in "Happy Reunion" who have known each other for many years and are of the same family. Their l e v e l of knowledge about each other's past and therefore of each other's weaknesses i s deeper than in "Waiting". Mrs. Xun, for example, knows why Yuanmei i s at her mother's home and why she i s not fond of speaking (she feels dejected because her husband and her brother-in-law have gone abroad leaving her behind). "Therefore, Mrs. Xun, besides asking her with a smile 'And Zifan?' did not pursue the conversation with her" (p. 82). She i s care f u l not to touch the sore points. She also knows that Mr. Wu has gone to Hong Kong with another woman and has a c h i l d with her. "Mrs. Xun did not ask about him" (p. 82). Through the thoughts and past memories the characters have about each other, the reader can follow the changes these characters have undergone and the wearing e f f e c t of l i f e on them. The fact that other characters are aware of these setbacks and care for another character heightens the e f f e c t of t h e i r close r e l a t i o n s h i p . Mrs. Wu for example feels protective 106 about Mrs. Xun. Mrs. Wu was r e a l l y sorry for her. With so many r e l a t i v e s and frie n d s , but they just had to give her to the Xuns. One day Yuanmei had said behind her back that her face was s t i l l pretty, but Mrs. Wu had said indignantly: 'You did not see how bright her eyes used to be, she had a kind of naughty expression. Once she got married, her eyes dulled. She completely dulled.' As she spoke, the rim of her eyes reddened and her voice hardened, (p. 86) The narrator presents a more complete image of Mrs. Xun by dedicating more narrative space to her. He does this by interspersing the narrative with information about her through his voice (descriptions and comments), Mrs. Xun's own voice and the thoughts, memories, and actions of the other characters. The narrator gives the longest external description of her (p. 81). Mrs. Wu thinks about her in the present time (see above example) and i n the past ("She did not know whether she should laugh or cry when she r e a l i z e d Mrs. Xun had 'tipped' the postal service" (p. 87). Yuanmei remembers the small room the Xuns li v e d i n Shanghai, she saw i t when she v i s i t e d Mrs. Xun one day. Inside a memory of Mrs. Wu another character expresses her opinion about Mrs. Xun ("Mrs. Sun . . . had asked her a few years l a t e r : 'How i s that Mrs. Xun now? . . They a l l speak well of her. She i s so soft-spoken!'" p. 102), thus o f f e r i n g another outside perspective. More importantly, when her husband Shaofu appears in the l a t t e r part of the narrative, his function i s to show the couple in action i n the present time and give the reader a chance to v e r i f y their r e l a t i o n s h i p against the largely subjective information offered up to that point. Comments such as "Ever since Shaopu had come after dinner, 107 Mrs. Xun had adopted an attitude of ordinary s o c i a l intercourse, she did not say too much and did not even smoke" (p. 103), ". . . Mrs. Xun saw that her husband was t e l l i n g a joke, she would always laugh, and i f 6he did not understand i t , she would laugh even more" (p. 101), and "[Shaofu] f i n a l l y l e t go of the deep, long yawn he had been suppressing, because just now i t had been his wife t a l k i n g , i t did not matter" (p. I l l ) , c e r t a i n l y reveal the relationship of a couple i n which one takes more space and the other y i e l d s . There i s , however, a short, almost tender moment between the couple in the present time when Mrs. Wu leaves to answer the phone. Mrs. Xun asks Shaofu i f he found the food she l e f t f o r him. When he answered, his voice was low and deep, almost gentle. Due to his sudden change of voice i t was a bi t hoarse, he had to cough once to clear his throat. He had not l i f t e d his head to look at her, and he had reddened s l i g h t l y , he looked even darker now, as i f the l i g h t i n the room had grown dimmer, (p. 106) He has been observed avoiding eye contact with his female r e l a t i v e s according to t r a d i t i o n (p. 101), but his sudden shyness could be attributed to the fact that Yuanmei i s present; i t i s through her eyes the conversation between the couple i s seen. In her relationship to Mrs. Wu, Mrs. Xun takes a l l the space Mrs. Wu gives her, s t a r t i n g most of the conversation topics and doing most of the t a l k i n g , while Mrs. Wu l i s t e n s and responds with short comments. This could be because Mrs. Wu on the one hand feels sorry for her and wants to give her space to unburden herself but also because Mrs. Wu i s less confident than Mrs. Xun. "Although Mrs. Wu had not been pretty i n her youth, she could understand the feelings of a bea u t i f u l woman past her prime" (p. 87). 108 Unlike Mrs..Xun, Mrs. Wu's husband does not appear i n person i n the present time, a l l the imformation the reader has of him i s f i l t e r e d through her subjective memory. There i s some evidence that she feels she has been too harsh i n her complaints about him to her cousin (she does not make these comments i n the narrative, we are to assume that Mrs. Xun i s well-informed). Although the couple is separated, they regularly write each other l e t t e r s . In f a c t , on the same day as her cousin v i s i t s her ("today" in the narrative, but a memory to the present time), she writes him a l e t t e r that she feels comes close to being a love l e t t e r . " If she l e t [her cousin] see that at her age she was s t i l l writing 'Brother' and 'Sis t e r ' i t would be too embarassing, also, i t would look l i k e her temperament was too strong, that she had asked for her sympathy for nothing" (p. 9 7 ) . This revelation and also the intimate dialogue between Mrs. Xun and Shaofu in the present time may indicate that the two women have a tendency to exaggerate t h e i r lot i n the i r frequent conversations i n order to get some sympathy. In the whole narrative Mrs. Wu is less vocal i n the present time, her story i s revealed through memories and much of her personality through past dialogues (she and Yuanmei talk about Mrs. Xun, each time revealing Mrs. Wu's relationship to Mrs. Xun), giving a less f o r c e f u l image of her because she holds herself i n the background. Mrs. X i in "Waiting" resembles Mrs. Xun i n that she has the most narrative space a l l o t e d to her. Rather than getting other peoples' views of her to make her into a "round" character, we see her in a range of emotions giving her an add i t i o n a l dimension. She i s f i r s t of a l l the only 109 woman in the waiting room who stays throughout the story even though she does not always act. The reader has a mental picture of her from the minute descripton of her physical appearance (p. 113) and then follows her through her complaints about high p r i c e s , her embarrassment when she suddenly receives attention from Afang and the other women i n the waiting room, her enjoyment of i t at the same time, always accompanied by the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c fingering of her bag, an expression of her inner anxiety. "The whole room was l i s t e n i n g to her t a l k i n g , Mrs. Xi f e l t this was the way i t should be, in her b i t t e r complaints she f e l t a somewhat exultant, she made a gesture with the netbag i n her f i s t " (p. 115). She i s p o l i t e to Mrs. Tong by o f f e r i n g her her jacket to cover Mrs. Tong's grand daughter and gives some advice for anger. "Mrs Tong, when you have time you should try out a C h r i s t i a n Church, when you hear them talk you won't be angry anymore. Any C h r i s t i a n Church w i l l do." (p. 120). She i s as vocal as Mrs. Xun in talking about her problems and has changed her mind quickly about Mrs. Tong when she i s not ready to l i s t e n to her but instead talks about her own worries. Unlike a l l the other characters she is hurt when slighted by another character, showing her to be more sen s i t i v e . When Mrs. Pang spi t s into a spittoon standing close to Mrs. Xun, Mrs. Xun smiles at Mrs. Pang to show her f r i e n d l i n e s s , but Mrs. Pang pretends not to see her. "Mrs. X i quickly looked outside the window, as i f she had been in s u l t e d , she thought warmly of her husband" (p. 124). The r e l a t i o n s h i p between the characters i s more remote in "Waiting" and more intimate i n "Happy Reunion". The connection between the two cousins in p a r t i c u l a r i s very close, not just because they are of the same 110 family but because they share many childhood memories. In the past they had been apart for long periods, there were large parts missing which needed to be f i l l e d i n . Yuanmei had seen such cases of innocent homosexuality before. . . .[This generation] had no chance after [girlhood] to f a l l i n love with a person of the opposite sex, therefore the f e e l i n g was deeper and longer l a s t i n g . (p. 9 9 ) In spite of the physical closeness of the characters "Waiting" i n the waiting room, they are a l l i s o l a t e d from each other. They talk at cross purposes, l i s t e n to each other out of cold c u r i o s i t y rather than out of compassion ("Afang smiled the smile of her black rimmed eyes, one hand playing with the set of keys dangling from a button of her blouse, she drew nearer [to Mrs. Xi] and said in a low voice: 'Maybe your husband has somebody over there!'" p. 114) or because they have been moulded into the p o s i t i o n of l i s t e n i n g ("Because [Mrs. Bao] had never been good looking, she had always been, from her young days to today, in the position of companion, she could not but wholeheartedly sympathize with those near her" p. 117). They might offer each other some quick advice, (Mrs. Xi t e l l s Mrs. Tong about the church, Mrs. Tong in turn gives her some off-hand advice for her hair l o s s ) , but they are so desperate for someone to l i s t e n to them that they pour out t h e i r sorrows to anybody who lends an ear to them. Mrs. Xi t e l l s Afang w i l l i n g l y about her b i t t e r s i t u a t i o n , although one could wonder that she reveals her personal l i f e to somebody so much younger than h e r s e l f . ("It i s not that I don't know i t , Miss Pang! I guessed long ago that he probably took another wife." p. 114) . Ill Mrs. Tong takes advantage of Mrs. Bao's sympathy. "Having somebody who sympathized, Mrs. Tong became sad right away." (p. 1 1 7 ) . When Mrs. Bao leaves to take her turn, "they a l l were suddenly quiet" (p. 1 1 7 ) suggesting a sense of l o n e l i n e s s , also implied by the Chinese character for 'lonely' i n the word * quiet'J ^ . ^ j g f . Both Mrs. Tong and Mrs. X i , maybe because they do not know each other or do not have enough compassion, cannot l i s t e n to each other. Mrs. Tong hearing t h i s , was at a l o s s , the regular features of her fat face became confused for a moment and f u l l of red pockmarks, she said: 'Eh? Eh? . . . times are bad now, r e a l l y bad, Eh? Once a fortune t e l l e r told me . ...' (p. 1 2 0 ) Mrs. Tong frustrates Mrs. Xi by repeatedly returning the topic of the conversation to her problems when Mrs. X i wants to talk about her own worries. Hearing her t a l k , Mrs. X i was getting impatient, she answered now and then 'Mm . . .Mm. . . 'and occasionally nodded her head, gradually getting a b i t l a z i e r and just blinking her eyeli d s , . . . she decided that Mrs. Tong was an old muddlehead. (p. 1 2 1 ) Wartime and the unfortunate position society puts the women in are the cause the women to desperately search for a sympathetic ear. In "Happy Reunion" the stormy times of the war have retreated into the past, and the scene of meeting and l i s t e n i n g to each other has been repeated so may times that there i s nothing new to t e l l any more. Old s t o r i e s have to be warmed up and new ones found ("Mrs. Xun was also thinking hard, looking for something she had not told her yet" p. 98). The textual break on p. 109 and the temporal i n d i c a t i o n that a few months 112 have gone by ("The weather had become warm, . . . " ) , showing the characters i n the very same positions, suggest that this scene has been repeated many times. Although the time i s a few months l a t e r , the characters seem not to have moved from th e i r seats, the afternoon of the winter day seems to continue. "The same four people were s i t t i n g in the same places under the l i g h t of the lamp, they a l l had t h e i r arms crossed and f e l t a b i t c h i l l y from s i t t i n g so long" (p. 1 0 9 ) . Their "happy reunions" have become a routine, so much that they have forgotten what they told each other in a span of a few months. Their reunions have more importance i n the physical action of meeting than in the exchange of news. The r e p e t i t i o n of the story Mrs. Xun t e l l s of the man following her i n Peking, and Yuanmei being the only character r e a l i z i n g i t , i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s fact ("Yuanmei could not believe her ears, . . . how could one of them forgot she told the story before and the other forget she heard i t before?" (p. 110)), as well in the wear and tear l i f e has taken on both women, numbing the sharpness of t h e i r memory. In a sense one story ("Happy Reunion") could be the continuation of the other with the plight of the women not very much changed. During war times couples are geographically separated due to the p o l i t i c a l s i t u a t i o n (Mrs. Xi's husband has a good post i n the i n t e r i o r but does not send her money, and he has another woman), and a f t e r the war the couples are divided by new p o l i t i c a l trends and for educational reasons. (Mr. Wu i s i n Hong Kong and Yuanmei's husband i s abroad). After the war Hong Kong was abnormally prosperous; because of the Communists, sens i t i v e business men had also moved there. The separation due to p o l i t i c s f a c i l i t a t e d many things for an unharmonious couple wedded in the t r a d i t i o n a l styles just l i k e during the war i n Chongqing and the occupied areas, (p. 82) 113 In f a c t , some characters share very s i m i l a r c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s in both s t o r i e s : Mrs. Tong talks about anger i n her stomach l i k e Mrs. Xun does, she also had to work hard i n the household of her parents-in-law l i k e Mrs. Xun; but from the appearance and d i s p o s i t i o n (as well as presence i n the narrative) i t i s Mrs. X i who resembles Mrs. Xun most. Mrs. Xi i s i n the same po s i t i o n as Mrs. Wu with her husband gone, Mrs. Wu l i k e Mrs. Bao has always been 'ugly'. As the daughter of the house, Afang would be in the same s e n i o r i t y rank as Yuanmei, and Mr. Pang would be equivalent to Shaofu in "Happy Reunion" in terms of his physical presence in the story. The point i s , however, that these characters a l l have very similar s t o r i e s because they are members of the same culture and class and share many of the same pli g h t s even though the times and p o l i t i c a l trends have changed. The conversations in "Happy Reunion" give an impression of a natural s i t u a t i o n through the breaks and jumps in topics. The actual conversation topics in the present time are quite few^ 2 a n ( j less important in meaning than the narrative parts between the spoken words, and therefore shorter Greetings 2. Hair, household of Mrs. Xun's parents-in-law, the fur n i t u r e i n the i r house 3. Mrs. Xun comments on her shoes and the cat of the landlady 4. She talks about the time the Old Master died 5. She talks about Shaopu during the war 6. She talks about him lending his money 7. They talk abour Mrs. Xun's children i n Peking 8. Mrs. Xun says she w i l l not move in with her son when Shaopu dies 9. She talks about the anger i n her stomach 10. She talks about the sickness of her si s t e r - i n - l a w 11. Mrs. Wu talks about ch o l e s t e r o l , they talk about food 12. Mrs. Wu talks about a sweater she saw f o r Mrs. Xun 13. A l l four t a l k about a movie they saw together 14. Shaopu talks about Zhou Deging's wife i n Changqing 15. Mrs. Wu asks i f they have a calendar for the new year 16. Mrs. Xun and Shaopu talk about the food she l e f t for him 17. Mrs Xun says she i s worried about the dark, somebody followed her in the dark 18. Mrs. Xun t e l l s the same story a few months l a t e r . 114 i n textual space, than the rest of the narrative. The present time can reveal that Mrs. Xun brings up most of the new topics and does most of the ta l k i n g while Mrs. Wu follows and responds. We have already looked into the meaning of this previously. The narrative parts between the spoken words, that i s , the thoughts of the characters about each other, t h e i r memories including the conversations of the past and the delaborations of the narrator, bring in a wider background for each character so as to explain t h e i r present s i t u a t i o n . The text i s stretched by these narrative parts. Sometimes they are positioned between an ongoing dialogue, setting the response to a question much further in the narrative, thereby creating a longer narrative-time although the story-time is much shorter. The result is many layered and p a r a l l e l s r e a l i t y . 'That day when Shaofu got his salary Shen Bingru came to borrow money.' The couple c a l l e d the husband of his younger s i s t e r by his f u l l name. . . Yuanmei saw that she had hesitated before she spoke, obviously she could not decide whether she could talk i n front of her. . . Mrs. Wu thought i t inapporpriate to say anything, both women looked at each other and smiled, (p. 93) Mrs Xun talks to Mrs. Wu expansion by the narrator Yuanmei's thoughts Mrs. Wu's reaction There are three of these 'talk/thought/talk' s i t u a t i o n s in the story, each time to bridge over an uncomfortable moment of embarrassment or surprise (p. 93, 94, 107). 115 Mrs Wu was astonished, she asked: 'They c a l l you old lady? Who?' She did not look old her s e l f , . . . The other day Yuanmei had teased her: 'Mother. . .' Mrs. Wu asks a question Mrs. Wu's thoughts past dialogue 'At the market, somebody c a l l e d me old lady,' Mrs. Xun answers Mrs. Xun said i n a low voice. (p. 107) The story's content i n these situations has an influence on the structure. As the narrative of "Happy Reunion" places the characters i n the foreground and lets them convey th e i r own s i t u a t i o n rather than having the narrator do i t for them, this story has more of these 'talk/thought/talk' s i t u a t i o n s than "Waiting", except when the narrator supplies some information about the characters. There i s one such s i t u a t i o n in "Waiting" in which Mr. Pang asks the question and answers i t himself with the narrator supplying the 'thought.' 'I admire two of Mr. Zhu 1s q u a l i t i e s . Which ones?' Mr. Pang had the broad yellow face of a l i o n , and a thick neck . . . Mr. Pang after a l l was a man who had kept his position from before the war, . . . 'Which ones? Ah? No matter how busy he i s , every night at eight . . .' (p. I l l ) Mr. Pang talks to Mrs. Gao Narrator describes Mr. Pang Narrator elaborates on Mr. Pang's s o c i a l p o s i t i o n Mr. Pang continues to t a l k The narrative text between the words of Mr. Pang's monologue provide the impression of Mr. Pang's self-importance. The dialogues i n "Happy Reunion" are broken by silences getting longer and more awkward toward the end, while i n "Waiting" the 116 conversations are broken by the outside events of people a r r i v i n g or taking t h e i r turns to be massaged. Both stories can be divided into d i s c e r n i b l e parts according to these c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s : "Happy Reunion" according to silences and textual breaks, "Waiting" acording to external actions. "Waiting" reveals six parts i n a pattern, alternating between the action happening inside the massage room and outside the p a r t i t i o n s walls of the massage room. (1. Mr. Pang and Mr. Gao in the massage room) 2. Afang and Mrs. Xi t a l k i n the waiting room 3. Mr. Pang massages Mrs. Wang 4. Mrs. Tong, Mrs. Bao and Mrs. X i ta l k in the waiting room 5. Mrs. Bao gone, Mrs. Tong and Mrs. X i continue to talk 6. The young man and the Pang's t a l k , Mrs. Xi alone in waiting room). The fourth and the f i f t h part happen outside the massage room focusing on the personalities of Mrs. Tong amd Mrs. X i . The la s t part happens f i r s t inside the p a r t i t i o n walls and then moves outside of them and even beyond (the narrator's d e s c r i p t i o n of the outside world): The white, wet sky, and the opaque green palm-size leaves of the Chinese parasol tree were outside the window. Across the street was a row of old red brick houses, numerous clothes were hanging on the balconies to dry in the a i r , although i t was so humid. A black and white cat went by walking on a roof, one could only see i t s black back with i t s t a i l , i t looked l i k e a snake, slowly undulating along. Not long a f t e r , i t appeared again outside on the balcony, walking along the r a i l i n g , i t did not look to the l e f t or to the r i g h t , i t went slowly by i n i t s own world. Oblivious to anything else, l i f e passed. (p. 124) This suggests that no matter whether inside the p a r t i t i o n walls (Mr. Pang's respectable p o s i t i o n ; he i s mentioned to massage people i n o f f i c i a l c i r c l e s ) or outside i n the waiting room and beyond the room, the 117 characters are a l l in the same pos i t i o n , l i f e goes on, i n d i f f e r e n t to th e i r suffering.^* 3 "Happy Reunion" i s broken i n t e r n a l l y by moments of silences preceded by longer narrative passages representing the thoughts of the characters during these sile n c e s . The breaks are thus created by the prolonged pauses i n the story-time, during which the narrative takes the reader into the characters' minds and t h e i r pasts. These breaks are marked by "After a moment of s i l e n c e " (p. 93) — second p a r t — a n d "Mrs. Wu broke a longer -period of s i l e n c e " (p. 9 8 ) ~ t h i r d part — , whereby the temporal words "After" and "longer period" stand for the thoughts appearing in the text p r i o r to the statement. The textual breaks on p. 93 and p. 109 do not introduce d r a s t i c changes in the action. The f i r s t (introducing the second part, also by the above mentioned temporal statement) ends an eight page long retreat into Mrs. Wu's past before resuming with the present time. The second indicates a temporal jump of a few months forward from that past, but no. change in action. The s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n in the fourth part (p. 109) to the end of the t h i r d part joins the two parts smoothly in terms of the action of the story, suggesting, as mentioned, the r e p e t i t i o u s actions of the characters, and by t e l l i n g the same event in the fourth part, the d u l l i n g of the older characters minds. The end of the f i r s t and the second part, that i s the longer retreats into the past which are c a l l e d back into the present by the temporal statements, each start with the random thoughts of the three women and end 3Cheng, p. 181. 118 with Mrs. Wu's past or the past s i t u a t i o n seen through her eyes. The f i r s t retreat into the " s i l e n t world" (thoughts and memories) is set off by Mrs. Xun t a l k i n g about Shaofu l o s i n g a l l her pictures i n Nanjing (p. 87). The narrative then moves into her mind thinking about her s i t u a t i o n at that time, ("She had brought the three children back to Peking . . ." p. 87), then to Mrs. Wu's mind thinking about Mrs. Xun's habit of overtipping ("But when she phoned her, . . ." p. 87) and to the time when Yuanmei went to see Mrs. Xun through Yuanmei's memory ("It was a dark old bu i l d i n g " p. 88). Yuanmei then thinks about her own s i t u a t i o n ("She had never been d i l i g e n t " p. 88) and about her mother in the past ("Her mother had i n i t a l l y accompanied her father abroad." p. 89). At this point the narrative moves into various moments of Mrs. Wu's past through her own memory: the f i r s t time she met Mrs. Xun a f t e r she came back from abroad (p. 90), she and her husband abroad (p. 90) and a few years a f t e r she returned in a conversation with Mrs. Xun, and again she and and her husband abroad. These jumps go back and for t h u n t i l page 93, when the narrative returns to the present time. To say that these thoughts happen in the characters' mind at the exact story-time when they are reported would be an unreasonable claim. It is not possible that the characters are a l l thinking in a smooth thematic sequence during this period of si l e n c e , thoughts which the narrator would need only to unveil. The narrator's presence i s c l e a r l y f e l t i n this passage, e s p e c i a l l y in the tr a n s i t i o n s between the thoughts of one character to the next. ("The room she had rented at f i r s t i n Hong Kong had mice" (p. 88) • smooth thematic t r a n s i t i o n between Mrs. Wu's thoughts about Mrs. Xun and Yuanmei's 119 thoughts about the time she went to v i s i t Mrs. Xun). The narrator i s , however, as we have noted, subordinated to the presence and thoughts of the characters and therefore the strong i l l u s i o n i s maintained that the characters are thinking, whether i t i s at the very moment of the story-time or whether the narrator catches the atmosphere of the characters' minds. The i l l u s i o n i s maintained even more strongly through the ensuing statement "After a moment of si l e n c e " as an explanation for the " s i l e n t " passage. The reader, for example, does not know whether Yuanmei r e a l l y thinks the thoughts during the very story moment in spite of the i n d i c a t i v e tags, or i f she thought i t some time in the past. "As Yuanmei was thinking this she thought right away that she should not." ") (p. 88). The precise moment of thinking i s l e f t out and the thoughts recorded seem l i k e random associations (from Zuming, Mrs. Xun's son to Zifan, her husband, her poor academic study career and so on), but the reader has the i l l u s i o n Yuanmei thinks these thoughts and thereby learns some information about her. Not a l l statements of silences in the story overlap with the characters thoughts (as not a l l statements of silences introduce a new pa r t ) . They do not when no mention of thoughts appear in the narrative. These moments are described as "Nobody was speaking" (p. 104), "There was a moment of silence" (p. 104) and "Everybody was s i l e n t for a while" (p. 110), at which point we can assume that the characters do not think, or the narrator choses only to highlight the thoughts which are important to c l a r i f y the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the characters. The various mentions of silences i n the narrative act as s t i l l points 120 i n the story for switches to new topics or pauses within a topic. External factors such as the ring of the b e l l , the a r r i v a l of the Qipao, or Shaofu's a r r i v a l a f t e r dinner as well as a conscious e f f o r t of the character to talk about something else, can act as breaks to bring about a change of topic. These are most often related to the "talk/thought/talk" s i t u a t i o n s , when the previous topic was uncomfortable. Mrs. Xun for example i s upset that her husband lends his money to a l l sides when they are not doing well themselves. Mrs. Wu does not know what to say. '"Isn't he a l r i g h t now?' she said laughing. 'Does Zuzhi have a g i r l f r i e n d now or not?' She asked to change the subject." (p. 94). The rest of the topic changes are natural occurences in the conversation, to t e l l each other news they have not (or think they have not) told each other yet. Silences can also be mentioned as pauses in the narrative, the implied meaning of these pauses the reader has to f i l l i n . Such moments are less obvious in "Happy Reunion", where the narrator tends to indicate the characters' thoughts immediately after the statement of pauses occur, than in "Waiting", where such pauses might add to the more v i s i b l e c haracterization by the narrator. In "Happy Reunion" for example Mrs. Xun complains about Shaofu, a remark which seems to make Mrs. Wu uncomfortable and therefore she t r i e s to defend him. "Mrs. Xun did not answer at f i r s t , she paused and then said: 'I hated Shaofu that time when the Japanese came—" (p. 87). The pause could imply that Mrs. Xun has a grudge against Shaofu and wants to get a few things off her chest, no matter how Mrs. Wu fe e l s about i t . In "Waiting" the meaning of such an instance i s much clea r e r . In the l a s t part the young man who i s being massaged t e l l s Mr. Pang about a war f i l m he saw recently i n the Russian Club. Mr. Pang 121 asks him questions about the f i l m , l e t t i n g him understand that he wants the young man to buy t i c k e t s for him. Mr. Pang said: 'Is there r e a l l y such a film? How much i s i t for each person? 1 The young man said: 'Mr. Pang, i f you want to see i t , I ' l l get you a t i c k e t . ' Mr. Pang did not say anything, a f t e r a while he spoke: 'What time i s i t shown? Is i t shown every day?' The young man said: 'At eight, how many tic k e t s do you want?' (p.123). Without having made a straight forward request because he i s too p o l i t e , through his modest pause Mr. Pang has given the young man the message that . he wants to see the f i l m . The reader understands this without the narrator having to supply Mr. Pang's thoughts; his mind from the outset remains closed throughout the story thereby makes him a less s e n s i t i v e character. Even though, as we have seen, both stories "Happy Reunion" and "Waiting" have as t h e i r main action a d i a l o g i c s i t u a t i o n and therefore on the surface appear quite s i m i l a r , they d i f f e r in their narrative approach* In "Happy Reunion" the characters stand almost by themselves, without a narrator commenting on every aspect of their existence. It i s through th e i r thoughts that the characters reveal themselves, and thereby create a much more personal (and subjective) atmosphere around themselves than the narrator i s able to do i n "Waiting". In addition, the temporal switches which make this story "experimental" in comparison to the l i n e a r development of "Waiting", give the story the impression of l i v i n g thoughts, of the mind moving back and f o r t h between memories of d i f f e r e n t times without placing them i n their sequential order. 122 CONCLUSION Having analyzed the structure of Zhang A i l i n g ' s three modernist, "experimental" s t o r i e s on the basis of the reader's p a r t i c i p a t i o n , we need to point to the i r f i n a l meaning and the author's v i s i o n r e f l e c t e d i n them. As we noted i n the introduction to this paper, these three s t o r i e s , i n contrast to many of her e a r l i e r ones, do not deal with love and marriage as the i r central theme. Even in "Lust and Abstinence", a story i n which the re l a t i o n s h i p between J i a z h i and Mr. Y i plays a major r o l e , the author's v i s i o n of the desolate r e a l i t y wherein the characters "have l i t t l e control over th e i r environment and the sadness of their pathetic struggles to escape or remake the i r w o r l d a s an o v e r a l l theme of a l l Zhang A i l i n g ' s s t o r i e s , i s apparent. We have, for example, seen in some d e t a i l the in t e r n a l struggle J i a z h i undergoes to try to tranform her " f i c t i o n a l " love r e l a t i o n s h i p with Mr. Y i into a re a l one. J i a z h i "has never been in love" (p. 37) and therefore she mistakes the moment of comfort with Mr. Y i with "love". Beneath the secretive atmosphere of the story created by revealing information and the characters' thoughts s e l e c t i v e l y , the author s k i l l f u l l y presents the two characters in such a way that the reader i s struck by the contrast between J i a z h i ' s innocence, inexperience and youthful zeal for a cause, and the older, experienced and blase" Mr. Y i who i s w i l l i n g to s a c r i f i c e her to secure his p o s i t i o n . Her c o n f l i c t i s between the role she pretends to be and her actual s e l f : she 4 4Gunn, p. 204. 123 i s not as sexually experienced as she has to feign to Mr. Y i and actually is s t i l l in the growing process. "Two years ago they weren't t h i s way" he said in a low voice while stroking and k i s s i n g her. His head was nestled close to her breasts and he did not see that she had reddened (p.22). A recurring theme in Zhang A i l i n g ' s stories i s that of " s o c i a l entrapment and psychological r e t a r d a t i o n " 4 ^ in which the author sides with the female characters: the reader i s in c l i n e d to feel sorry for J i a z h i for having lost her innocence in the harsh conditions of a cause and, s a c r i f i c e d b y both the gang and Mr. Y i , her l i f e at such a young age. Also in "Ashes of Descending Insence, Second Brazier" a story that on the surface deals with Roger Empton's " s o c i a l entrapment" the reader, with a l l his sympathy for this character driven to his death, feels even greater pity for his innocent wife, Susie M i t c h e l l , who, unusually sheltered b y her mother, has a distorted view of l i f e . C u rtis Adkins mentions in his analysis of Zhang A i l i n g ' s short s t o r i e s that her s t o r i e s end in an indetermined type. This ambiguity i s not intended to i n c i t e the reader to guess what w i l l happen but i s rather a feature of Miss Chang's perennial preposition that l i f e i s dreary and self-repeating. The only possible conclusion i s that nothing w i l l "happen" to the characters i n the story - they w i l l simply go on l i v i n g as they have been. (pp. 19-20) In the f i r s t chapter of my paper I noted that, for example, the structure of the story "Jasmine tea" ends in a way that would support such an 4 5Gunn, p. 201. 124 i n t e r p r e t a t i o n : the l a s t statement of the narrative and the absence of the narrator's independent voice to close off the story convey the idea of Chuanqing's loneliness i n a l i f e that w i l l continue without any major events to improve his existence. We can also assume that i n the f i r s t of the three experimental s t o r i e s Mr. and Mrs. Y i ' s l i v e s w i l l continue in the manner related in the f i r s t and the fourth part of the narrative (Mahjiang games, Mr. Y i waiting for orders from above) while anything that happened between these two parts w i l l never come to the surface. Both stories discussed in the l a s t chapter of th i s paper, that is the lin e a r and the anachronic story, very much support the themes of the dreary uneventful existence of the characters. We noted that the women's l i v e s , no matter whether during or after the war, were very similar i n th e i r waiting for something to happen. One gets the sense that these women spend th e i r existences in perpetual waiting for t h e i r husbands while t r y i n g to ease t h e i r pain and boredom with conversations that have no other function than giving them the i l l u s i o n that somebody shares their sorrows. In "Waiting" the women talk at cross purposes, in "Happy Reunion" the only solace the two women have is each other and their memories. The story's technique makes the unexciting l i v e s of these women v i v i d by interspersing the characters' thoughts ( i d e n t i f i e d as the increasingly longer moments of silences) with apparently meaningless exchanges. Also the r e p e t i t i o n of Mrs. Xun's story i n the last part of the story brings home the message of the two women's dazed minds after a l i f e that perhaps had no other function than to bear a few children. As exemplified by the character Yuanmei, the l i v e s of the women of the 125 younger generation in Zhang A i l i n g ' s world do not look much better. They may have the chance to choose their own husbands, but in a meaningless r e a l i t y they l i v e the same drab l i v e s as th e i r mothers: just l i k e the other two women Yuanmei i s waiting for her husband to return. As we noted, her role i n the story i s to provide an outside perspective to that of the two older women, but her way of thinking i s not much dif f e r e n t from t h e i r s . She accentuates the sad existences of the older women by noticing t h e i r dulled minds but does not offer any "hope" for the new generation by the fact that she i s so si m i l a r to them. The re l a t i o n s h i p of the two women in "Happy Reunion" i s compared to a case of "innocent homosexuality" because they "had no chance...to f a l l in love with a person of the opposite sex, therefore the f e e l i n g was deeper and longer l a s t i n g " (pp. 98-99). Zhang A i l i n g thus seems to be looking i n p a r t i c u l a r at the women's s i t u a t i o n i n Chinese society whose existence is a continuation of waiting to get married and who, after being married, are separated from th e i r husbands either for p o l i t i c a l reasons ("separation due to p o l i t i c s f a c i l i t a t e d many things for unharmonious couples wedded i n the old s t y l e " p. 82) or because these have run off with another woman. Having mostly no marketable s k i l l s of th e i r own, the wives either try to f i g h t to maintain th e i r primary position in the marriage — Mrs. X i — or have resigned to accepting the secondary p o s i t i o n — Mrs. Wu — while l i v i n g i n the vain hope that t h e i r husbands may return. ("Actually she could have said: 'Come l i v e with me.' But she was not w i l l i n g to admit that her man would not come back" p. 95). 126 The friendship of the two women i s overshadowed by Mrs. Xun's unspoken but ever present awareness that her husband Shaopu has a special l i k i n g for Mrs. Wu because she i s better educated than h e r s e l f . "Mrs. Xun knew that he was i n no haste to return. He had always admired Mrs. Wu" (p. 101). While Mrs. Wu and Shaopu now dominate the conversation, her attitude changes to one of "ordinary s o c i a l intercourse" (p. 103). Mrs. Xun i s not separated from her husband but l i k e so many of Zhang A i l i n g ' s characters she coexists with her husband in a stale r e l a t i o n s h i p in which both partners are alienated from each other. While Zhang A i l i n g reveals in her stories p a r t i c u l a r pity for the women's l o t , she is not blind to the fact that the men are thrown into the arranged marriages just as the women are. She also shows, however, that i t i s s o c i a l l y more acceptable for men to disappear with another woman or have an a f f a i r , leaving t h e i r wives behind. Even Mrs. Wu's education does not help her very much, i n her illmatched marriage her husband complains that he i s "dragging around an ugly wife who i s a bad housewife and not good at s o c i a l i z i n g " (pp. 91-92). The husbands' boredom with their usually less educated wives and the wives' e f f o r t s to cater to them make these relationships e s p e c i a l l y p a i n f u l to witness. "But when Mrs. Xun saw that her husband was t e l l i n g a joke, she would always laugh, and i f she did not understand i t , she would laugh even more" (p. 101). This p a r t i c u l a r passage i s very s i m i l a r to the ending of Zhang A i l i n g ' s e a r l i e r story "Happy Matrimony" which deals with the contrast of such a stale r e l a t i o n s h i p i n the background of the busy preparations for and the actual wedding ceremony of a younger couple, a marriage which the reader knows i s 127 doomed from the beginning. The story ends with the comment "Mrs. Lou did not understand c l e a r l y what he had said, but she knew he had made a joke; she laughed the l o u d e s t . I n her close look at the women's si t u a t i o n i n Chinese society, Zhang A i l i n g , however, does not exhibit the revolutionary ardour of a feminist writer. Rather she records what she sees i n her a r t i s t i c i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of r e a l i t y from a humanist perspective making the reader experience the sadness of the women's pl i g h t . I c a l l e d the three s t o r i e s I analyzed in this paper "experimental" because of the i r d i f f e r i n g narrative structure from Zhang A i l i n g ' s e a r l i e r s t o r i e s . The author, however, called only the second one s p e c i f i c a l l y an experiment. While there are in this story again indications of the characters' rather dreary and meaningless l i v e s , and a look at a woman's si t u a t i o n (Luozhen i s a young woman repeatedly harrassed and chased by men), the structure, that i s the story's form, seems to take precedence over the content, and i s what constitutes, at least for this reader, the attractiveness of the story. The loosely structured narrative, the temporal segments i n th e i r new chronological arrangement which could almost be reshuffled to f i t i n th e i r o r i g i n a l order, function on the one hand to represent Louzhen's thoughts as they d r i f t back and forth between the present of her immediate surrounding and the past i n her mind, and on the other hand to t e l l us something about her personality. The loose structure gives a palpable sense of Luozhen's relaxed journey on the 4 6Zhang, The Collected Stories, p. 56. 128 boat (we could imagine the "Flowers and P i s t e l s " of the story's t i t l e to represent her thoughts " f l o a t i n g on the waves") while the almost clean b l o c k - l i k e time segments could show the more i n f l e x i b l e aspect of her mind. The order of her thoughts and the i r content reveal an average modern young woman who, not d i f f e r e n t from other Zhang A i l i n g characters, i s concerned with the everyday l i t t l e s t o r i e s between men and women (she wonders how Mr. and Mrs. L i met, she knows everything about Mr. and Mrs. Kal i ' s unsuccessful marriage). In sum, what Zhang A i l i n g has introduced i n these three stories i s a new narrative approach to convey the same v i s i o n of the world as in her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s . The d i f f e r e n t narrative s t y l e could perhaps in addition reveal that the author had an even more pessimistic view of l i f e in the 1950s than when she wrote her e a r l i e r s t o r i e s . Whereas previously she could have been i d e n t i f i e d as a sad humanist with a sense of humour, the " i r o n i c mode and s a t i r i c tone" that formerly so c l e a r l y reflected her "expressed views on modern society with subtle yet penetrating s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m " 4 7 has changed to a tone that appears more serious and more matter-of-fact i n presenting the characters' subjective r e a l i t y . Her language i s less witty and the imagery she uses "less l a v i s h . " 4 8 As i n works by other modernist wri t e r s , these three stories present a "challenge to the reader's w i l l to i n t e r p r e t a t i v e s y n t h e s i s " 4 9 i n creating a r e a l i t y 4 7 A d k i n s , p. 19, 4 8 H s i a , A History, p. 417. 4 9Auerbach, Mimesis, p. 549 129 that appears broader i n scope and closer to actual l i f e by changing the temporal order and incorporating numerous seemingly unrelated elements into the narrative. Whereas the f i r s t of the three s t o r i e s s t i l l seems as " t i g h t l y - k n i t " as her previous s t o r i e s in that the use of imagery and symbols and the newly introduced anachronies point to the f i n a l theme of the story, the other two s t o r i e s seem aimless, as d r i f t i n g as t h e i r characters. It appears i n d i c a t i v e that Zhang A i l i n g wrote this type of short story after the change of government to Communism in 1949 and after her move to Hong Kong i n 1952. The novels she produced from then on, The Rice-sprout Song (j&jijj?^ ) and Love i n Redland ( "fr-frhl ), both published i n 1954, are studies of l i f e under the "Communist tyranny."5® In the present short s t o r i e s there are only a few s p e c i f i c comments on l i f e under the new government (more so in the second than in the t h i r d s t o r y ) , but one senses the characters' i m p l i c i t loneliness permeating a l l three s t o r i e s , an element that could be attributed to the author's view of the regime and s p e c i f i c a l l y to her view of a changed interpersonal climate within this regime. "Happy Reunion" seems to be set on the brink of the Communist take-over and "Flowers and P i s t e l s " c l e a r l y after the change of government. Although "Lust and Abstinence" i s set in pre-Communist China, but i t s s i m i l a r narrative structure to the other two stories and i t s underlying thematic s i m i l a r i t y of a l i e n a t i o n with the other two s t o r i e s ( a l l characters i n the f i r s t story are separated from each other; Luozhen 5 0 H s i a , A History, p. 427 130 i n the second story i s in f l i g h t of men and Communism; a l l four characters in "Happy Reunion" are lonely and only loosely connected) could r e f l e c t the author's more pessimistic view of the world at that time. 131 BIBLIOGRAPHY Adkins, C u r t i s , Peter. "The Short Stories of Chang A i - l i n g , a L i t e r a r y Analysis." Unpublished M.A. Thesis. University of C a l i f o r n i a , Berkeley, 1972. Auerbach, E r i c h . Mimesis: The Representation of R e a l i t y i n Western L i t e r a t u r e . T r a n s l . W i l l a r d R. Trask. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974. Bohlmeyer, Janine. "Eileen Chang's Bridges to China." Tamkang Review, 5, No. 1 ( A p r i l 1974): 111-128. Booth, Wayne C. The Rhetoric of F i c t i o n . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1975. Brown, Carolyn Thomson. "Eileen Chang's Red Rose and White Rose: A Translation and Afterword." Unpublished Ph.D. D i s s e r t a t i o n . Washington, D.C: American University,. 1978. Chatman, Seymour. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure i n F i c t i o n and Film. Ithaca: Cornell U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1978. Chen, Bin g l i a n . "You Guan Zhang A i l i n g Lunzhe Z h i j i a n Shumu" ["A l i s t of books and a r t i c l e s discussing Zhang A i l i n g ' s work."] In Chen, Bingliang, Zhang A i l i n g Duanpian Xiaoshuo L u n j i [ C o l l e c t i o n of Discussions on Chang A i l i n g ' s Short Stories.] T a i p e i : Yuan Jing, 1983. Cheng, Stephen. "Themes and Techniques i n E i l e e n Chang's Stories." Tamkang Review, 8, No. 2 (October 1977): 169-200. Edel, Leon. The Psychological Novel: 1900-1950. New York, Haskell House, 1966. Forster, E.M. Aspects of the Novel. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1927. Genette, Gerard. Narrative Discourse: An Essay i n Method. [Figures III.] Trans. Jane & Leuria. Ithaca: Cornell U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1980. Gunn, Edward. Unwelcome Muse: Chinese L i t e r a t u r e i n Shanghai and Peking, 1937-1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980. Hsia, C.T. A History of Modern Chinese F i c t i o n . New Haven: Yale Uni v e r s i t y Press, 1971. Hsia, C.T. Preface to Shui Jing's Zhang A i l i n g de Xiao-shuo Yishu [The Art of Zhang A i l i n g ' s F i c t i o n . ] T a i p e i : Da Di Publishing Inc., 1975, 3-10. 132 Kao, Hsin-sheng C. "The Shaping of L i f e : Structure as Narrative Process i n E i l e e n Chang's The Rouge of the North." In Women Writers of 20th-century China. Ed. Angela Jung Palandri. University of Oregon Press, 1982. Lau, Joseph, S.M., Hsia, C.T. and Leo, Ou-Fan Lee, eds. Modern Chinese Stories and Novellas 1919-1949. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. L i n , Peifen. "Zhang A i l i n g Yanjiu" ["Research on Zhang A i l i n g . " ] Zhonghua Wenyi, 12, No. 2 (July 1976), 34-60. Lubbock, Percy. The Craft of F i c t i o n . London: Jonathan Cape, 1957. M i l l e r , Lucien, and Chang, Hui-chuan. " F i c t i o n and Autobiography: Spatial Form i n The Golden Cangue and The Woman Warrior." Tamkang Review, 15 (1-4): 75-96. Scholes, Robert and Kellog, Robert. The Nature of Narrative. New York: Oxford Un i v e r s i t y Press, 1966. Sciban, Shu-ning. "Eileen Chang's Love i n the F a l l e n City: Translation and Analysis." Unpublished M.A. Thesis. University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1985. Shui, J i n g . Pao Zhuanji [Comments for the Beginning of a Discussion.] Ta i p e i : San Min Shuju, 1969. Shui, J i n g . Zhang A i l i n g de Xiaoshuo Yishu [The Art of Zhang A i l i n g ' s F i c t i o n . ] T a i p e i : Da Di Publishing Inc., 1975. Tang, Wenbiao, ed. Zhang A i l i n g Juan [On Zhang A i l i n g . ] Taipei: Lian Jing Publishing Inc., 1983. Tang, Wenbiao, ed. Zhang A i l i n g Yanjiu [Research on Zhang A i l i n g . ] T a i p e i : Lian Jing Publishing Inc., 1983. Wellek, Rene and Warren, Austin. Theory of L i t e r a t u r e . 3rd ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1977. Xun, Yu. "Lun Zhang A i l i n g de Xiaoshuo" ["On Zhang A i l i n g ' s F i c t i o n . " ] Wan Xiang, 3, No. 11 (May 1944). Zhang, A i l i n g . "Stale Mates." The Reporter, 15, No. 4 (September 20, 1956): 34-38. Zhang, A i l i n g . Zhang A i l i n g Xiaoshuoji [The Collected Stories of Zhang A i l i n g . ] T a i p e i : Huang Guan Publishing Inc., 1968. Zhang, A i l i n g . Zhang kan [Zhang's Outlook.] T a i p e i : Huang Guan Publishing Inc., 1976. Zhang, A i l i n g . Wangranji [Sense of Loss.] T a i p e i : Huang Guan Publishing Inc., 1983. 133 GLOSSARY 'Ashes of Descending Incense, F i r s t Brazier" » $ j ^ jj^ ^y^^y George ^ £$̂ t? Weilong -$X^!t "Ashes of Descending Incense, Second Brazier" }iLi"% r\j%fo ^ Clementine f ^ J ^ r " Dolinda vfy ? f ^ 6 M i l l i c e n t % Mrs. M i t c h e l l ^ ^ ^ / ^ Roger Empton I j ^ ' f ^ ^ ' "6 Susie M i t c h e l l ^ i g ^ ^ ^ E , "Flowers and P i s t i l s i n the Floating Waves' Adrian Miss Solomon ft[ *^ Fanny 5&tf>0 Mr. K a l i L i Chaxun Mrs. K a l i w^* L i Fanglin J^^f Mrs. Niu ^ Luohu H <£fl Shichen ^ Luozhen JR. Shihe ^ Miss Fan 134 "Happy Reunion" Miss Wan J ^ L ^ K - ^ Mr. Wu Y j ^ u t t Mrs. Wu Shaofu ££$f Shen Bingru Yuanmei "Jasmine Tea" Feng Biluo Nie Chuanqing Yan Danzhu ^ • ^ > Yan Ziye ^ Zhou Deqing ^ 1 4 ^ 5 r3| Z i f a n 3*££> Zuming ^ f j , Zutai ^ «r4z Zuzhi ^ g £ , "Lust and Abstinence" Huang L e i | f J i a z h i - " { ^ L ^ L L a i X i u j i n ^ . Liang Runsheng Mr. Y i Mrs. Liao ^ ^ Mrs. Ma Mrs. Mai ^ Mrs. Y i Ping An Theatre ^ " ^ r Wang Jingwei ^ , ^ ^ f Zhou Fohai 135 "Red and Wh i t e Roses Chenbao ^J^A^^ "So Much Hate" Ay Old Mr. Yu "Ife/fc^ Xia Zongyu ^ B j Yu J i a y i n | "The Golden Cangue" Cao Qiqiao ^ ^ Changan "Waiting' _aL Afang Mr. Gao %%J>i$- Mrs. Bao Mr. Pang Mrs. Pang j j ^ * Mrs . Tong ^ ^"^C Mrs. Wang Mrs. X i

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