Jung Chang's Wild Swans

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The story of Jung Chang’s parents shows that the lack of efficient institutions, the stratification of society, and plight of the common man made China vulnerable to nationalism. Through “Wild Swans” one sees that as the Chinese people became more empowered, nationalism became more favorable. Essentially, “Wild Swans” shows how and why Mao was able to influence the Chinese through nationalism. The story of Jung Chang’s parents is the medium through which Chang describes nationalism.

From the beginning of “Wild Swans”, one sees the Chinese as a down trodden group of people. Whether it is due to a highly stratified culture or foreign occupation, the Chinese were afflicted by a serious lack of pride. The first pages of “Wild Swans” describe
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Chapter three describes China under Japanese rule between 1938-1945 and it contains many subtle descriptions of Chinese oppression. Chang describes the hard work that her mother did in a factory. The experience “The girls were terrified. The combination of nervousness, cold, hunger, and fatigue led to many accidents. Over half of my mother’s fellow pupils suffered injuries.” (page 55) Right after describing these terrible working conditions Chang begins to describe her mother’s education. Specifically, Chang shows how it had become more acceptable for Chinese women to get high school educations. There are instances of such comparisons throughout “Wild Swans”. Chapter five and six are written in such a way as to show difference between the low quality of life under the Kuomintang and improvements that Mao’s regime brought. When describing the Kuomintang regime, Chang writes of how things such as harassment, corruption, greed were rampant. (82) In the next chapter Chang describes the Communist forces as helpful, disciplined, and as demonstrating exemplary behavior. (100-101) This comparison isn’t made haphazardly. Chang explicitly shows the contrast between the two regimes. Specifically, Chang reaffirms the differences between The Kuomintang and the Communists by describing how economic conditions changed while under control of both groups. (101-102) The Chinese, on their…show more content…
One of best and most disturbing examples of this is in chapter 16. Chapter sixteen describes the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Starting in 1966, students who were part of the Red Guard began to attack and mistreat “class enemies”. (288) Class enemies weren’t the oppressors that they were accused of being. Instead of corrupt and malevolent citizens, the victims of the Red Guard were typically people who had been freethinkers. Mao viewed freethinking, especially critical views, as a major threat to his power. (277) Instead of enemies of the state, the Red Guards beat and humiliated artists and writers. Many of these loyal citizens killed themselves after being mistreated. (Chang 288) When addressing Red Guards, who had terrorized their fellow citizens, Mao’s spokesman announced,” You have soundly, heartily battered the capitalist-roaders, the reactionary bourgeois authorities, the bloodsuckers and the parasites.” (Chang

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