Assignment 1a: Reader’s Response to Lu Xun’s “A Madman’s Diary.” Question: Why does the madman cry out at the end of the story: “Save the children”? Your answer must display comprehension, reflection, and application. Outline You need to write three paragraphs: Paragraph 1: Comprehension Paragraph 2: Reflection • Paragraph 3: Application Paragraph 1: Comprehension (You […]
In the narrative, “The Madman’s Diary” by Lu Xun, the mad man becomes distressed and concerned after seeing cannibalism. He believes that the act is routinely practiced by those around him, including his family and the villagers. That way, he becomes transfixed in his certainty that everybody he knows, meets, and sees is planning on eating him (Lau and Howard 9). The terrible thought of being hunted overrules his every action and thought, and his paranoia overwhelms him. In brief, Xun provides various images in the story that suggest cannibalism.
The mad man’s obsession with cannibalism led him to study Chinese history textbooks to understand it fully. While reading the manuals, he discovered the single phrase “Eat People” written between the lines (Lau and Howard 11). He was also convinced that his brother might have eaten their younger sister and discovered his unwitting involvement in consuming her flesh. The mad man asserts that “the more courage he had, the more the society wanted to devour him so that they could get a little of it for free” (Lau and Howard 11). The author utilizes cannibalism as a metaphor for the oppressive feudal society that ruled China. The societal structure, in this regard, devours and manipulates its members, both young and old to gain benefits from people as a whole. Thus, cannibalism signified the consumption of individuality in the community where people, both old and young, suffered from oppressive traditions and foreign imperialism.
By analyzing “The Madman’s Diary” by Lu Xun, I feel that cannibalism is a metaphor for the obsession of people over private gains. The theme is reinforced through the action of the humans and by the recurrent savage images envisioned by the madman. In the reading, I also learned that seemingly as all activities translate into extremely menacing behavior, harmless individuals became predatory. A mother is said to glare at him and wants to bite him “long-toothed and green-faced” (Lau and Howard 10). Moreover, an elderly clinician becomes a cannibal and executioner (Lau and Howard 12). By construing below the insincere compassion of the physician and his hidden motive of self-interest, the madman advocates that seemingly generous acts are expressions of cannibalistic yearnings. Therefore, the narrative provides an interpretation of a culture that has failed by the cruel nature of humans.
I feel that the madman uncovers cannibalism as a mindset of personal gain that is profoundly embedded in Chinese patriarchal history, Confucianism. Confucious is portrayed as a power-hungry individual whose main objective is attaining enlightenment by holding influence over others. Apart from the narrator and the madman, I discovered that most other humans are persistently transposed into carnivorous animals. For example, the madman asserts that “people smile continuously with their fearsome sharp white teeth with the laughter of knives and words full of poison” (Lau and Howard 10). Thus, I feel that the author demonstrates cannibalism in Chinese culture and society as an obsession with private gain that results in a community of conflict and hostility rather than unification.
As criticized by Lu Xun, cannibalism is thought to still exist in the world today. The madman states, “the flesh of humans can be pan-fried and eaten” (Lau and Howard 15). Arguably, this statement depicts how the entire global society shares a long history of traditional cannibalism that continue to be a central fiber to the present. There are many parallels between the current culture and the story, such that the narrative could just as quickly be a critique of the present-day community as it was of China in 1918. Hence, the only hope of the madman was that there are children somewhere who have not yet been turned into cannibals and that these youngsters can somehow be saved from what seems to be their fate.
Even in today’s world, children are likely to be affected by such indifference towards others. The youngsters are likely to be influenced since society is continuously being controlled and manipulated by the masses of people who know no better than to follow tradition (Nelson and Rebecca 53). At present, the world is guilty of cannibalistic nature portrayed in the story. People today are just as greedy and selfish as they were when the narrative was written. Children would be affected because they are taught that life is a competition, and someone else must lose for them to win. Hence, the narrative ends with a plea to “save the children” (Elleman and Paine 315). In brief, the appeal is for a nation to transform for the sake of future generations.
Elleman, Bruce A., and S. C. M. Paine. Modern China: Continuity and Change, 1644 to the Present. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019.
Lau, Joseph S. M., and Howard Goldblatt. The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature. Columbia University Press, 2007.
Nelson, Claudia, and Rebecca Morris. Representing Children in Chinese and U.S. Children’s Literature. Routledge, 2016.
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Published On: 01-01-1970