Chen Duxiu's 'Our Final Awakening'

988 Words4 Pages
Dr. Jaundrill
Question #2
The Quest for Nationalism
In the early part of the 1900’s, China was in desperate need of change. With the Qing dynasty on the decline, the call for nationalism was crucial. Chen Duxiu, the author of “Our Final Awakening,” uses the past history of China as a call for change to bring nationalism back to China. Sun Yat-sen, the leader of China’s Republic, describes his call for nationalism in “The Three Peoples Principle,” a fundamental piece written for the nationalist party. He uses morality as a necessity for nationalism and explains how without nationalism, China is weak. While both of these authors use conflicting examples to describe necessary change, Lu Xun’s call for nationalism, revolution, and democracy
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Technology, knowledge, politics and many more ideas were all becoming influences of the west. China was in a crisis. In order for China to emerge from this, had to observe their level of national power, discover the problem and progress as a whole (Chen). Chen Duxiu’s call for nationalism explained the negative connotations that imperialism had on their country. In his eyes, the lack of nationalism was a result of the conflicting ideas of the old and the new. In an excerpt from “The Final Awakening,” when he describes “the intense combat between the old and modern current thought,” (Chen, 1), Chen describes the struggle between the old and the new. China’s traditional ideas and customs have been lost due to an overhaul of Western influence. If nationalism were to present itself again, citizens would have to fall back on their traditions. “Why should I reject the desires and influential elders, who are all a part of the people, to build a constitutional republic” (Chen, 1). Rather than Western influences continuing to change the Chinese landscape, he believes they should look to their elders who can begin to teach the youth how to merge the older customs with the advancements from the West. By combining two aspects of tradition and being able to let them work with each other, national strength will begin to increase again which will restore nationalism and the confidence of…show more content…
Using fiction, Lu uses a metaphor to depict Ah Q, as a self-centered, egotistical representation of the common Chinese individual in this time period. Through the actions of the main character, the author critiques many faults of China including the lack of nationalism. Building on the idea that Lu Xun describes the faults Chinese culture, he also criticizes the underappreciation western influence. “Now this ‘Imitation Foreign Devil’ was approaching. / ‘Baldhead-Ass-’In the past Ah Q had cursed under his breath only, inaudibly” (Lu,3, Chapter 3). The character is upset after he sees a Chinese citizen with bald hair rather than a queue, a required Chinese braid worn throughout the Ming Dynasty. After the “Imitation Foreign Devil” arrives from studying abroad in Japan, he has come back stripped from his Chinese roots with a new hairstyle (Lu). Since Ah Q, Lu’s version of an inadequate citizen, gets upset over this, Lu proves to the reader that the rejection of different culture is handicapping the country. Rather than ignoring influences from other countries and falling back on older rituals, China should use these advances to progress as a society. Another foreign idea that was new to China in this time was the acceptance of women. Ah Q is condemned for his disrespectful behavior towards women many times throughout the story. “Our young mistress—" Amah Wu chattered on. / "Sleep with
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