Arlt: Chinese Imagination

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Repay your love and friendship

Chinese literature, for example, ancient poetry, lyrics, and traditional Chinese stories, reveals many different kinds of good personalities of people. According to a famous ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius (¿××Ó), men are born to be kind (ÈËÖ®³õ©o ÐÔ±¾ÉÆ). Everyone has his or her own good qualities and sometimes they are just hidden and needed to be explored and discovered. In traditional China, people had a strong sense of repayment (ˆó´ð). People who do not have this ability to repay others who have helped them before are usually being looked down on. The sense of repayment is perhaps a product of a good friendship or love. And the boundary of love here in this case, is not only about the love between couples but all different kinds of love also, for instance, the love between family members. Therefore, repayment is in fact tied in with the theme of filial piety. People¡¯s devotion to and their respect for their parents or elders are actually a form of repayment. In the story, ¡°The Courtesan Li Wa,¡± Li Wa is surely very respectful to her ¡°mother¡± though she is not her real mother who gives birth to Li Wa. While Li Wa and the young man are taking a rest at Li Wa¡¯s aunt¡®s place, she gets a message that her mother is ill, suffering very badly and cannot even recognize the people in the house. Li Wa, without a doubt, decides to go back immediately to see her mother without even considering the young man. Though I have to say that I personally doubt that this is in fact a proper and an appropriate way to handle this situation, Li Wa has certainly shown her respect and devotion to her so-called ¡°mother¡±. A while later in the story, the young man fails to find Li Wa and her aunt. He has been roaming about and at some point close to death due to illness. He ends up being employed by the mortuaries to sing. On one occasion, the young man¡¯s father happens to be there and an old servant recognizes the young man. His...
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