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. 2, January-February, 1997
Sun Yue, an intellectual with various talents, has problem finding someone to love her for the kind of woman she is -- outgoing, outspoken, as well as actively involved in the school newspaper, the drama group, and gymnastics. When she first meets He Jingfu, she candidly expresses her dislike for Shanghai. "I cried when I heard I had a place here," she says. "I didn't want to come. It's got a bad reputation" (24). Yet she follows her the dictates of Zhao Zhenhuan, her boyfriend, and comes to Shanghai, hoping that he will continue to love her. He cares for her in a way he prefers and will always adore the image he has created out of her. She surrenders to his whims without giving him a chance to love her for her real self.
When He Jingfu's secret admiration for Sun Yue is revealed to the public, she for the first time learns that a man adores her as she is and does not want her to change. She then despises him and herself for the revelation. "I hate you!" she responds aggressively to He Jingfu. "I hate myself!" (28). Instead of trading insults with her, he kisses Sun Yue lightly on her forehead.
Another character who has trouble finding a beau is Xi Xi's narrator in "A Girl Like Me." This is a passive young woman who takes no control of her life. She believes whatever happens to her is arranged by Fate, which has destined her to be a "carbon copy" of her Aunt Yifen--a make-up artist for the deceased. Having inherited the older woman's occupation, the narrator finds it difficult to have a man love her in spite of her profession and her dedication to it. As soon as her friends find out about her job, they abandon her for fear of death or the "mysterious and the unknown" (108), under whose shadow the narrator works. As a result, she has largely withdrawn from society, and talks to few people.
There is one exception, Xia, the man she is currently dating. The narrator expresses her desire to be loved by him for who she is, an artist who embellishes dead bodies. However, she fails to understand that Xia loves her for who she is; her looks, her smell and her personality. Wherever her paleness or scent comes from will not alter her personality or his opinion of her. But her paranoia prevents her from seeing this. Eventually she decides to show Xia her workplace, but she does it with no faith in him. Her pessimistic attitude automatically transforms a potentially amorous situation into a negative one. By assuming he is saying goodbye with flowers instead of looking at them as a greeting, she might deprive herself of romance.
Although the Girl from The Bus Stop differs from Sun Yue and Xi Xi's narrator, she can't find a lover, either. She wavers between passivity and action. Being shy and quiet, she has difficulty meeting men, but she knows her time to find a mate is running out and has decided to do something about her predicament. As a result, she goes to the bus stop with the hope of venturing into the city to meet a man. However, she has little confidence in herself that she will actually make it to the city. When the bus does appear, she says, "I just know it isn't going to stop" (381). Such a negative attitude may prevent her from finding a mate, but her flexibility may make any situation work in her favor.
By and large, the trio's personality traits play an important role in shaping their destiny. Whether Xi Xi's narrator and the Girl from The Bus Stop will find someone to love them remains a speculative question because the authors do not give the reader a definite answer. As for Sun Yue, she may be united with her soul-mate eventually, but she has failed to see this possibility in her youth.
Dai Houying. Stones of the Wall. Trans. Frances Wood. London: Michael Joseph, 1985, 23-32.
Gao, Xingjian. "The Bus Stop." Trans. Gerime Barme. Trees on the Mountain.
Xi Xi. "A Girl Like Me." Trans.Rachel May and Zhu Zhiyu. Trees on the Mountain.
Illustration by Megan Donnelly