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The New Year's Sacrifice

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by

Yen Bui

on 16 December 2014

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Transcript of The New Year's Sacrifice

Historical Background
Chinese society and the Western world
Chinese society- inhumane in its treatment of the lower classes and of women
Confucian values of respect, kindness, and generosity were
not
applied to the common people
Lu Hsun's Work
wanted to inspire social change
joined Hu Shih's literary revolution
incorporating aspects of foreign culture and life into Chinese literature
advocate of communism

Lu Hsun's Work cont.
Diary of a Madman-
scathing criticism of Chinese society that challenged the traditional view of the universe as one that rewarded good and punishes evil
Author of two famous short story collections
Call to Arm
(1923)
The New Year's Sacrifice
Hesitation
(1926)

Summary of Plot and Conflicts
Narrator returns home to native place of Luchen
Villages prepares and celebrates the new year with a “sacrifice”
Narrator recalls running into Hsiang Lin’s Wife the day before
Asks him three questions
“After a person dies, doe he turn into a ghost or not?” (p. 489)
“Then there must also be a Hell?” (p.489)
“Then will all the people of one family who have died see each other again?” (p.489)
Narrator does not know how to answer → uncomfortable
Hsiang Lin’s Wife dies
Flashback
Hsiang Lin’s Wife was introduced by Old Mrs. Wei to the Fourth Uncle’s household
Uncle disapproves because she is a widow; aunt hires
Proved to be a good maid servant
Uncle and aunt discover that Hsiang Lin’s Wife ran away from her husband’s family
Mother-in-law comes to collect the Wife’s wages and clothes
The Wife is then kidnapped and taken back home
Not long after she reached home, they sent the Wife off to be married once again
Mother-in-law receives eight thousand cash for the marriage (only ten thousand was left over)
Character Analysis
Hsiang Lin's Wife
white hair, 40s
runs from her husband
becomes old, emotionally and physically tired
she is viewed as a liability

Research
Chou Shu-jen

The New Year's Sacrifice
Pen name Lu Hsun
great Chinese writer
founder of modern Chinese literature
born in Shaoh-sing, in Chekiang Province
his family lost wealth; continued to value knowledge and education
1902, went to Japan to attend Naval Academy and study Western medicine
returns to China to teach biology and practice medicine

Explanation of Literary Devices
Literary Devices Cont.
Close Reading of Rich Meaningful Passages
Group Interpretation
Allusion- brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance.
alludes to Cerberus
alludes to Poseidon
“When we met, after exchanging a few polite remarks he said I was fatter, and after saying that immediately started a violent attack on the revolutionaries. I knew this was not meant personally, because the object of the attack was still Kang Yu-wei” (p.485)
“The room also appeared brighter, the great red rubbing hanging on the wall showing up very clearly the character for Longevity written by the Taoist saint Chen Tuan” (p. 486)
"Ghosts and spirits are properties of Nature" (p. 489)
Summary Cont.
Hsiang Lin’s Wife was not willing
Fought all the way there
Threw herself against a corner of a table, knocking a hole into her head
At the end of the year, she is seen with a baby; both are fatter (healthy and well fed)
“Well, well she is really in luck” (p. 494)
Later reappears at Fourth Uncle’s home
Husband passed away from typhoid fever
Son killed by a wolf
Aunt pities her and rehires
The Wife has changed → not as quick as before
Titled “sinful” → she properly do her job
The villagers who at first lamented over her story now show disgust and contempt
Liu Ma (other maid servant) blames Hsiang Lin’s Wife for not being faithful for her first husband
“I don't believe he was so strong that you really couldn't keep him off. You must have been willing, only put the blame on his being so strong” (p.497)
Fears punishment of the afterlife and goes to atone sins by purchasing a twelve thousand cash threshold
Still sinful according to the Fourth Uncle and Aunt; forced to leave
She becomes a beggar and asks the narrator three questions
Everyone continues to celebrate the new year and welcome good luck and fortunes
p. 487 starting at “It is this” read to the end of the second to last paragraph
p. 496 the largest paragraph
p. 498 the first paragraph
The narrator is an educated individual who hopes for a change in the current society. In the end nothing changes. Hsiang Lin's Wife dies, never finding peace, while the villagers continue to live selfishly.
Full transcript