“A Posthumous Son” and “The New Year’s Sacrifice” Book Review

Women & Gender Studies

Write a reading response on the following readings: “A Posthumous Son” by Ye Shajun and “The New Year’s Sacrifice” by Lu Xun. While doing the reading, reflect and critically analyze a point of interest.

A Posthumous Son and New Year Sacrifice Review

A Posthumous Son and New Year Sacrifice are two different Chinese stories that show women victimized by society. In New Year Sacrifice, the story delves into an old woman identified only as Hsiang Lin’s wife, who the public discriminates against and regards as bad luck due to the death of his husband and son (Hsun, 2016). In the story A Posthumous Son, Ye Shaojun narrates a married couple’s quest to give birth to a son and the pain she goes through as her husband and society deem her a failure (Lau & Goldblatt, 1996). The concept of a woman gaining value in a traditional social setup is tied to her benefit in child-bearing and serving her husband; the theme is highly recurring in both stories.

The theme of women’s oppression and marginalization is rampant in both stories. In A Posthumous Son, Mr. Wenqing’s quest to get a son makes him marry a second wife once his wife sires eight girls in a row (Liu & Goldblatt, 1996). However, he is forced to sell the second wife to a merchant, and give her daughter for adoption, once the first wife sires a boy (Liu & Goldblatt, 1996). Later, when his son dies, Mr. Wenqing becomes disappointed in life and kills himself. For him, life is unbearable without a son, although he has eight daughters at home. In New Year Sacrifice, the community treats Xian Lin’s wife as a second-class citizen because she is a widow and childless. Later, she is sold by her parents-in-law to a second husband (Hsun, 2016). Both narratives show that in the traditional setup, a woman’s value in society was intrinsically tied to childbearing and serving her husband.

A Posthumous Son and New Year Sacrifice expose the pain of rejection felt by women due to failure to conform to societal expectations. The two narratives show how women struggle in a society that doesn’t forgive misfortunes. The characters expose the necessity to break free from traditional norms through social reform.


Liu, S., & Goldblatt, H. (1996). The Columbia anthology of modern Chinese literature. New York: NY. Columbia University Press.

Hsun, L. (2016). Selected Stories of LU HSUN. New York: NY. Norton & Company.

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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