What is author Yu Hua saying about the role of money and wealth in his novel To Live?
In the novel To Live, money is a constant reminder of conflict but also happiness. Fugui is introduced as a wealthy man that inherited his ancestors 100 mu of land. His family was in a very good position, but Fugui knew he had a lot of money and he would jump at every chance he got to gamble some. Money plays a major rule in attaining happiness, but the happiness is only temporary. Fugui’s story proves that no matter how much money he had in his possession, it will never buy him true happiness.
Fugui took after his ancestors and not only was born rich but born as “young master”. Respect came easily to him, even though he was not as wise as he could have been. Many wouldn’t understand why he got so much respect because of his immature actions towards his wife and his family’s money. He would go into town for several days to gamble and sleep with prostitutes while his wife was at home pregnant and raising a little girl. His family tried very hard to get him to stop gambling because his dad gambled away their first 100 mu of land. However, Fugui’s gambling got out of control and he began to neglect his family leaving everything he had behind for at a time.
His father was the beginning of his gambling habit. Fugui wanted to “bring honor to his ancestors”; He thought by gambling he would win all of the land his father had lost. Despite his beliefs every time he gambled a little more of the fortune slipped away from his grasp. “I was left in the dark, all the while thinking that I was just about to bring honor back to my ancestors” (pg. 21). Even though Fugui was only trying to please his ancestors, he created the downfall of the Xu family.
Jiazhen, Fugui’s wife, begged that he stop gambling because she knew he was only losing their family’s land. She was suffering because Fugui was always gone, and he was too blind to see that. He thought everything he did was none of...
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