Rickshaw Boy by She Lao: Reflective Statement

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November 3, 2011
period 1A
Rickshaw Boy Reflective Statement

The two previous corresponding Interactive Orals were based on information that would help us to better understand the novel Rickshaw Boy by She Lao. We evaluated the author’s life, different aspects of Chinese culture, how Dickensian style was used, mishaps with translation, as well as other works by She Lao. She Lao was born on February 3, 1899 into an impoverished Manchu family and ended his own life on August 24, 1966. He is one of the most widely read Chinese novelists of the twentieth century. I was surprised to find out that She Lao is actually the novelists pen name. I wondered if there was a specific reason for his use of a pen name, for example if he was trying to be anonymous or didn’t want to be found directly linked to the criticisms in his works. His father was a palace guard for the Qing emperor and was killed during the Boxer Rebellion. According to the introduction of his novel, translated by Howard Goldblatt, he was sensitive about his link to the Manchu Dynasty which was hated by many. I think that this aspect of his life may be why he writes about the Chinese government, acknowledging its flaws and its benefits. Throughout Lao’s life, he worked as a teacher, a principal,and an administrator, always interested in the benefit and joy of education. The subject of social classes is very important in Lao’s life as well as in the novel, because it gives us as the readers a better understanding of the main character Xiangzi’s life and hardships. Pulling a rickshaw during the time period that the novel is set in is a symbol of the oppression of the working class. As noted in the novel, rickshaw pullers, in a way, sell their muscle by doing hard labor in exchange for so little. The novel in set in or around 1937 (during World War II), and during this time, China was going through a cultural revolution which changed the social classes. During the dynasty period landlords were the most...
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