Mao's Last Dancer

Topics: Chinese New Year, Leisure, The Little Things Pages: 4 (1314 words) Published: November 11, 2012
“Despite our hardships, there were also joys in our childhood”. Explore the ways in which Li’s childhood was both one of great deprivations and one of great riches.

The novel, “Mao’s Last Dancer”, was written by Li Cunxin. It tells his riveting tale of growing up in a poor family of six boys, living in a village in China under Mao’s reign. It goes on to share his eventual defection to the United States as an artistic dancer. His childhood was filled with both hardships and joys. But both helped him to grow as a resilient person to achieve once-thought impossible goals.

In Li’s commune, the housing was not up to today’s standard. They lived in abject poverty. There was barely any available space in the house to accommodate everyone. Today, we are considered very fortunate. Our facilities are much more developed than Li’s time. Li states, “There was no refrigeration and no running water, only a huge clay pot for storing drinking water.” They had to walk to the village well to collect drinking water. Most of us would not be able to imagine life without these amenities. Their bathroom was just a simple hole, dug in the ground outside. They were walls surrounding it but no roof. To shower, they had to heat water in their wok. There was another “public bath in the commune shared by over ten thousand people, but my family couldn’t afford to use it.” Li’s family continually struggled with their harsh living areas. Each family was allocated to a piece of land so Li’s family had to “make use of every inch of their yard”. They weren’t given much but they manage to survive their dire living conditions under Mao’s reign.

Each year, Li and his family looked forward to celebrations such as Chinese New Year. It was a time where hunger wouldn’t be a problem. Where friendships would become stronger and where the Li family would celebrate the festivities. Li described Chinese New Year as an occasion where “Happiness filled everyone’s hearts. We would forget hardship. We...
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