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
"I am powerless against Fate," she says. This young woman imposes alienation upon herself, but blames all that is wrong on fate. Instead of creating a new identity for herself, she follows in the footsteps of her aunt, and inherits the profession of applying makeup to the bodies of the deceased. Apprehensive of death, her friends leave her once they find out what she does for a living. The narrator, therefore, worries that her boyfriend, Xia, will do the same when he sees her workplace. She shows no faith in her lover's capacity for compassion and understanding, and demonstrates a lack of confidence in herself. Low esteem can cause a relationship, and so does suspicion.
Here she is at the beginning of the story, sitting at a cafe, preparing herself for the ending of a romance she cherishes. The problem is that she never tries to do anything about her plight except fussing over the fact that everyone has deserted her. She relinquishes responsibilities for her own choices to a supposedly fathomless power, without making the slightest effort to alter her one-way journey to total alienation from human society.
She could have reversed the course of her life if she had taken control of her own destiny and changed her profession. Instead, she sits passively "on her hands" and watches life pass her by, wondering why if she will ever have a chance to cradle babies and fulfil her role as a woman. Without an identity of her own, she has become nothing but a "carbon copy" and an "extension" of Aunt Yifen, perpetually condemned to live in the dark among the dead. Had the makeup artist modelled herself after Frankenstein, she could have endeared herself to those who love the unusual and the fantastical. Xia might just be the one who respects her for what she is and rejoices at having the queen of darkness as a lifelong partner. She will then remain a separate entity, providing a healthy contrast to his forever sunny temperament.
Xi Xi. "A Girl Like Me." Trans.Rachel May and zhu Zhiyu. Trees on the Mountain. Ed. Stephen