Human Nature In Yu Hua's To Live

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Each and every character in Yu Hua’s To Live is a catalyst through which the author explores human nature. The novel itself follows the life of Fugui, whose narrative is framed by pre-communist, Maoist, and post-communist China. Though he chronicles a long period of time, Yu Hua effectively uses characterization to present and prove his claims on human nature. Throughout Fugui’s journey, each character he encounters reflects on an aspect of humanity, through an event or group of people. For example, Long Er symbolizes the death of feudalism, while Fengxia symbolizes the Chinese people under a fascist, nationalist government. In Yu Hua’s To Live, Fugui’s son Youqing is a symbol of the Chinese people living under Mao because they were child-like in their innocence, and Youqing’s journey proves that naively trusting authority leads to deception.
Fengxia being taken away from Youqing reflects on the ways in which authority can be wrong, and trust can be destructive. Fugui and Jiazhen are adamant that giving away Fengxia is what is best for Youqing, and even for their daughter. This is similar to how Mao claimed that communism was for the good of the people, even though some people spoke out against this. Youqing voices his opinion after Fugui explains to him that “[they have] given Fengxia away to somebody else to save money so he could go to school . . . he [screams] through his tears, ‘I’m not going to school, I want Sis!’” (Yu 92). This serves as a reflection of China under

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