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
Glasses is an intellectual character, who tries to pass himself off as a worldly and cultural man because he can speak some English and discuss Einstein; however, in reality, his ratioal thinking is erroneous and his mastery of the English language is equivalent to that of an ill-trained parrot. Glasses' fascination with the West is a result of his misconception of its civilization. He wants a piece of foreign wealth but neglects the foreign idea that is a prerequisite for that wealth: freedom. But Liu Binyan is a studious man with an insatiable desire for truth and meaning although he was never able to finish with his formal education. (He was purged in the anti-rightist campaign during the Cultural Revolution, and "When there could have been time for study [he] had to do manual labor." )
Liu Binyan continues to read and study on his own. After having tasted the forbidden fruit, he could not pretend ignorance. He cannot think of not acting because he cannot restrain himself from thinking. Unlike Glasses, Liu Binyan does not flaunt his knowledge; he is modest about his intelligence and believes that knowledge is not an end in itself.
Since Glasses does not appreciate freedom, he has no incentive to act towards achieving that goal but rather lets his decision be controlled by random occurrences. Although he quesitons fate, he gambles with it. When he finally proposes that everyone line up and block the path of the bus, at the last moment, he prevents the lout from taking action that might stop the bus or at least slow it down. Conversely, Liu Binyan understands the value of freedom and does everything he can to contribute to it for his people, regardless of the consequences. He, unlike Glasses and other passive individuals "who prefer to see through the ways of the world and get hold on to its pleasure," has no regrets for the misfortunes that have befallen him. He keeps his eye on the future and his goal -- a China free of the "monstrous thing that is draining [the Chinese people of their life's blood."
Gao, Xingjian. "The Bus Stop." Trans.
Geremie Barme. Trees on the Mountain. Ed. Stephen Soong
Liu, Binyan. A Higher Kind of Loyalty. Trans. Zhu Hong. New York: Random House, 1990.