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Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui and Love in a Fallen City by Eileen (Essay Sample)


Hope is the author of China.


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Rhetorical Analysis: “Shanghai Baby” by Wei Hui and “Love in a Fallen City” by Eileen
The conflict between traditions and modernity has become a contemporary topic in Chinese literature. A lot of focus has been on the position of woman as the government strives to keep western influence at bay. Proponents of traditional values view western culture as a cultural threat to traditional values that have held the society together. Even though the country has done everything to curb western influence, elements of western influence have found their way in the country, and this has caused what scholars have called a cultural conflict. Enlightened writers and artists have tried to import western values to the country to no avail. Two prominent authors whose work has directly or indirectly conflicted with the traditional view of the position of women in China are Wei Hui’s “Shanghai Baby” and Eileen Chang’s “Love in a Fallen City.” This paper is a rhetorical analysis of the two fiction stories focusing on the issue of the cultural conflict between modernity and traditions.
"Love in a Fallen City" by Eileen Chang is a description of the lives of women in 1930s that were entangled in the conflict of modernity and traditions that the society and government imposed on them. The title of the story is imagery, depicting the city of Shanghai which seems to be unable to withstand the imminent Cultural Revolution. Published in 1943, the theme of this novel is to forecast the position of Shanghai by following the life and events that surface in the life of Liusu, the protagonist of the story. The word “Love” as used in the title is a mockery to the true meaning of love. The main character does not experience love in her real life. What she encounters is a struggle to find love in a city that cannot afford to offer her a lover of her life.
Before delving into an analysis of the context of the story, it is essential to understand a brief biography of the author. The reason for this is to help one to know how the author's life shaped the story and events that unfold in the story, including the choice of characters. According to Lee, Eileen Chang was a daughter of old china and modern china (1). The events unfolding in the story are a reflection of her real life, considering that her father was a deeply traditional father and a cosmopolitan western-educated mother. “Love in a Fallen City” is about a young widow that is struggling to find security and possibly love in a society that seems too distanced to secure both for her and perhaps, the community where she lives. The mother's philosophy has a significant impact on her, and this is revealed in the events she chooses the character to champion for a free society that frees women and empowers them to make independent choices.
The purpose of Eileen's story is to challenge the traditional view of women and how they are treated as second-class citizens by the Confucian traditions that have consumed Chinese society. At one instant, Liusu, the primary character is forced to select an heir for her husband’s property, seven years after his death (Chang 40). At the beginning of the story, a person tells Liusu that “…the law is one thing today and a different thing tomorrow…” (Chang 82). The reference that the speaker is making is one of the family laws. The statement is a point of hope for those that seem struggling to break free from traditional fetters.
The intended audience of this text is specifically women, traditional and modern women. Women of contemporary society are inspired by a sense of hope, even when traditions seem to rule the day. While this is all a fiction genre, the e...

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