Reflection: “I-Ching” and “Soap” by Lu Xun
(1)After our class I had ample time to reflect on my meager attempt at a first response and have identified my two largest misinterpretations of the assigned reading; namely, the sexual symbolism of the soap in “Soap” and the hypocrisy of Kung I-Ching in “I-Ching.” (2) In my original response, I speculated that the sexual nature of the soap referred to the young boys berating the young beggar girl’s statement that she would be more sexually appealing after being washed down with soap, when it in fact refers more to Ssu-Min’s purchase of the aforementioned and subsequent deliverance of it to his spouse, which clearly masks a repressed sexual desire to instead wash and bed the young beggar girl he witnessed, an act that would have been deemed socially inappropriate due to the ongoing rejection of classical Chinese customs in alignment with the swiftly shifting political and cultural landscape. (3) When examining “I-Ching,” I shallowly interpreted Kung I-Ching’s harassment at the hands of the peasants that surrounded him as being an example of class warfare in China; In fact, this is much more symbolically representative of the fading power of the gentry during this time period namely due to their acquisition of the aforementioned through an education surrounding the teachings of Confucius, ideas that had become so outdated that even the peasants were apt to ridicule them.
(4)The discussion in class that I found to be the most provocative was that surrounding the character of Ssu-Min and the beggar girl, specifically his repressed sexuality and how the changing times had designated his formerly acceptable desires into something that was admonished by the majority of society. (5) Putting this paradox in the context of Lu Xun’s educational background allows for a much greater degree of depth and insight into his condition. (6) Lu Xun had begun his adult life studying western medicine before deciding to pursue a writing...
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