Welcome to the World Wide Web Home page of Road to East Asia
Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
Vol.2, no. 1 November, 1996
She seems obsessed with the idea that the fate of her Aunt Yifen will eventually consume her, that men shun the realities of death, and that the competition for a regular job will be too tough for her. As a result, she is sentenced to emotional starvation. How can any single person change the accepted norms of society? She feels trapped.
Living an introverted life, she has distorted perception of the world and progressively withdraws from the people around her, including her new boyfriend, Xia. Without his support and the link he can provide to the realities of civilization, she lacks the courage to take charge of her life. The narrator is placed in a rather ironic and no-win situa-tion -- the forces of her social conditioning, or fate, work against any slim possibility of avoiding the inevitable outcomes that she fears and foresees in life.
Gradually, her pessimistic outlook on life consumes her. She sees no other purpose or reachable goal in existence, except embellishing dead bodies. Therefore, she single-mindedly dedicates her artistic talents to creating a "sleeping beauty," who will not be appreciated by anyone but herself. She is her own audience at work and in speech. Xi Xi appropriately has chosen the dramatic monologue as the form of delivery for her story.
As a result, the narrator seems to have been caught in a vicious cycle in which her own isolation is perpetuating the plight her aunt has suffered. The narrator's life pattern and the question of whether or not she will ever take control of her life rest on Xia's affections and open-mindedness. If he succeeds in bringing her out of her protective delusions, will it be "her" that resists fate? The questions whether fate is avoidable or controllable seem to be popular in Chinese and other contemporary works of literature and lend themselves to existential themes.
Xi Xi. "A Girl Like Me." Trans.Rachel May and Zhu Zhiyu. Trees on the Mountain. Ed. Stephen Soong