Author: Jung Chang
Title: Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
Publication: Simon and Schuster, London, 1991
1. Main Thesis
In Wild Swans, Jung Chang describes the life of three generations of woman in her family. Beginning in the year 1909 and ending in present time, it gives an insight into almost eighty years of the cultural history of China. Jung Chang has said in a interview that her intention in writing Wild Swans was to show how the Chinese people, and in particular the women in her family, "fought tenaciously and courageously against impossible odds."
The book is a testimony to the strength and determination of her grandmother, her mother, and herself and their resourcefulness in recreating themselves during suffering, humiliation and disillusionment. She interweaves personal and historical stories fluently and the stories of these women and their families act as a lens through which you gain insight into the turbulent history of twentieth century China.
The most important themes in this book are: love of family, loyalty and self-sacrifice
2. Chapter Summaries
The book starts by relating the biography of Chang's grandmother, Yu-fang. After the birth of Chang’s mother, De-hong, the book moves to her story. After the birth of the Jung Chang, the focus of the book now shifts again to cover Jung's own autobiography.
The father of Yu-fang, was Yang Ru-shan, born in 1894 as the only son. It was his duty to produce heirs to continue the family name. One a year after he married he got a daughter, Yu-fang. Political unrest caused problems for many in China over the next years. He arranges that a powerful warlord general, Xue Zhi-heng takes Yu-Fang as his concubine at age fifteen. The general stays only a few days after the traditional marriage and then leaves, not returning for six years. During his next brief visit, Yu-Fang becomes pregnant. The general's household is run by his legal wife and the head concubines. The... [continues]
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