A Dialogue between Different Voices: A Tentative Interpretation
Of Ha Jin’s “In Broad Daylight”
As a winner of the Kenyon Review Prize for Fiction in 1993, the Pushcart Prize in 1995 and the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction in 1997, Ha Jin’s short story “In Broad Daylight” has received as much publicity as possible in contemporary American literary circle. Set in the 1960s China, the time when the “Great Cultural Revolution” was catching on like fire throughout the country, the story depicts, from a teenager’s perspective, a public denunciation of a woman named Mu Ying and the unexpected rough death of her husband. In this paper, we are going to apply narrative theories about narrators and the implied author, etc., to the textual analysis, with a focus on different voices exemplified on figures like the narrator, the Red Guards, the town people, the denounced and her husband.
The narrator-cum-observer “I,” nicknamed “White Cat,” is a teenager who lives in the town with his crippled grandmother. The story begins at the moment when “Bare Hips,” his pal living on the same street, “hopped in,” informing him the news that Mu Ying, the Old Whore, had been caught, and urging him to join quickly the rare event in the town. The narrator “I” put down his bowl, which was almost empty, and “rushed” to the inner room for his clothes. Under the urging of Bare Hips, White Cat finally gave up his searching for the shoes and, ignoring his grandmother’s shouting behind him, ran out barefooted. From these descriptions, it is easy to see that for the teenagers in the town like the narrator and his companion, the event serves only as a scene of bustle and excitement. They feel no worry nor doubt, but excitement and fun at hand.
According to Rimmon-Kenan, the main sources of unreliability are the narrator’s limited knowledge, his personal involvement, and his problematic value-scheme (100). By these criteria, a young narrator would be a clear case of limited knowledge, and consequently his or her reliability is questionable. In addition, in accordance with its definition, the reader has good reasons to suspect the rendering of the story and/or commentary by the unreliable narrator (Rimmon-Kenan 100). As far as this story is concerned, the young age of the narrator “I” becomes the most distinguishing mark of an unbelievable narrator, and his reliability is put in doubt.
As a group of juveniles, the narrator and his companions know little about the adult life. This limitation makes their participation “a journey of discovery” (Zhou 156). When adults burst out laughing at Mu’s assertion of her husband’s impotence, the teenagers appeared to be puzzled. The dialogue between them shows this point clearly:
“What’s that? What’s so funny?” Big Shrimp asked Bare Hips.
“You didn’t get it?” Bare Hips said impatiently. “You don’t know anything about what happens between a man and a woman. It means that whenever she doesn’t want him to come close to her he comes. Bad timing.”
“It doesn’t sound like that,” I said. (Jin 8)
Obviously, Bare Hips does not know any more than Big Shrimp though his impatient tone tries to conceal this ignorance. Ignorant as he is, Bare Hips makes so bold as to cry at Mu, “Shameless Old Whore!” (Jin 4). Imperceptibly, the innocent children are acting the role of accomplice in the public denunciation against Mu. Their thoughts and behaviors manifest the influence they have taken from their parents. In this sense, the innocent teenagers have degenerated from lovely angels to dreadful demons.
Though it would take several hours to finish the whole procession, the children would like to parade Mu through every street. This is a clear mark of their empty mind and boring life. At that age, they should have sat in the classroom reading or listening to the teachers’ instruction. Yet the reality is that they came to the school building to attend the public denunciation, an exciting yet dangerous adult game that had nothing to do with them. In addition, without any information beforehand, they “knew” where they were going. Needless to say, the White Mansion, their classroom building, the only two-story house in town, had witnessed events like that for innumerable times.
Just when they felt tired and bored, Squinty emerged and said, “Someone is dead at the train station. Come, let’s go have a look” (15). The word “death” touched their nerves. The death, which should have been shocking and upset, serves them again as a scene of thriller. Apathetic as they are, the scene of the broken head that was companied by bluebottles and lizards makes Bare Hips vomit violently.
It is just in this sense that the trauma in the story can be interpreted as an initiation story for the teenagers living in the town. According to the working definition offered by Mordecai Marcus, an initiation story is a kind of story in which a young protagonist experiences “a significant change of knowledge about the world or himself, or a change of character, or of both, and this change must point or lead him towards an adult world. It may or may not contain some form of ritual, but it should give some evidence that the change is at least likely to have permanent effects” (222). Jerome Beaty further points out that the shocking experience of the unscheduled event may help children understand for the first time the significant, life-changing truth about human beings, society, or themselves (163-64; qtd. in Lin 53).
In Ha Jin’s story, the rough death of Meng Su, the husband, constitutes an “unscheduled event,” which brings the narrator and his companions to the violence of the adult world. The public denunciation of Mu was no longer a thrilling scene, but something that touched them to their souls, evoking their introspection or maybe disillusion about the world. Bare Hips’s vomiting is a strong signal, indicating the shocking effect that the violence may have brought to him. After the shocking experience, they are no longer innocent adolescences, but adults struggling at the “threshold of maturity and understanding” (Marcus 223).
As described above, the teenager “I” can be considered as a dramatized homodiegetic narrator in the sense of Wayne Booth’s and Rimmon-Kenan’s definition, but he plays only a secondary role, a role as observer and witness (Booth 152; Rimmon-Kenan 95-96; Genette 245). Viewed from his perspective, the public denunciation of Mu sounds more like a thriller, though turning out to be boring at the end, and the rough death of her husband arouses only curiosity of innocent children. Obviously, this is not likely to be the “values” (or “norms”) a great artistic product would like to offer. For this reason, the assumption that the teenager “I” in the story is not reliable can be proved.
Now that the narrator has been identified as an unreliable one, the interpretation needs to reconstruct the norms of the implied author other than that of the narrator. As Seymour Chatman defends it, the concept of the implied author, “the agency within the narrative fiction itself which guides any reading of it,” gives readers “a way of naming and analyzing the textual intent of narrative fictions under a single term but without recourse to biographism. This is particularly important for texts that state one thing and imply another” (Coming to Terms 74-75).
According to Chatman, a literary text, upon publication, becomes a self-existing thing and invention, originally an activity in the real author’s mind, becomes a principle recorded in the text (Coming to Terms 81). For this reason, readers need to resort to the concept of the implied author to “activate” “the effect which the work aims to evoke, the organizing principle informing the whole, or the meaning which the work manifests or suggests” (Stallman 398; qtd. in Chatman, Coming to Terms 82).
Chatman further points out that the implied author has no ‘voice,’ which only empowers others to ‘speak’; and that the implied author (unlike the delegated speaker, the narrator) is a silent source of information, which “instructs us silently, through the design of the whole, with all the voices” (Coming to Terms 85; Story and Discourse 149).
By these arguments, Chatman not only states the differentiation between real author, implied author and narrator, but also recognizes the narrator’s relation to the implied author. In the case that the narrator is unreliable, to make a distinction between the narrator’s voice and the norms of the implied author appears to be even more important.
In contrast to the innocent teenagers, the voice of the grandmother of White Cat represents a view popular among the old people in the town. When she was confirmed that Mu would be paraded that afternoon, her response was “Good, good! … They should burn the bitch on Heaven Lamp like they did in the old days” (Jin 1). Though a female herself, Grandma supports the “revolutionary action” of the Red Guards without any reservation. She feels no sympathy for the suffering of Mu because in her eyes, Mu is a bad woman and she deserves more severe punishment.
This point of view is typical of Chinese old women, who are instilled with teachings like “the Three Obedience and Four Virtues.” For them, women, as the dependency of men, are not allowed to have their own rights and thoughts. A woman’s chastity is valued more than her life, and a husband’s kindness is considered as a sort of favor that requires a wife to return with a whole life’s gratitude, loyalty and slavery service. In the case of Mu Ying, a woman who lost her virginity in an accident, it is quite natural that, rather than being sympathized, she would be condemned and underrated. Now that her husband accepted her, she should have returned his good-heartedness with her loyalty, instead of bringing him shame with her illicit affairs. No wonder that the older generation like Grandmother would clap and cheer at Mu’s suffering and not condemn those who brought trouble to her.
As Wayne Booth points out, “most works contain disguised narrators who are used to tell the audience what it needs to know, while seeming merely to act out their roles” (152). In this story, Grandmother actually plays the role of a disguised narrator. As a senior woman living in the town, she certainly has experienced more things than the young, as makes her a suitable candidate to act as the disguised narrator relating the past story of Mu and her husband. As “I” was told, Mu had once been raped by a group of Russian soldiers and left on the riverbank afterwards. It was Meng Su, the man who became her husband later, who sneaked there, carried her back, and looked after her for a whole winter till she recovered.
Booth points out further that though disguised narrators are seldom labeled so explicitly as God in Job, they often speak with an authority as sure as God’s (152). According to Booth’s perspective, the disguised narrator often acts as the agent of the implied author and more often than not, his voice represents the authorial voice of the implied author that should be taken seriously. In this sense, the view of Grandmother can be interpreted as part of the norm of the implied author. Through the voice of Grandmother, the implied author is not condemning Mu, the wife, but tries to confirm the truth that Meng, the husband, is indeed a good-hearted man, and he deserves a better outcome than that in the story. The implied author has placed his great sympathy on that poor man.
As a unique existence of the times, the Red Guards, an organization that was initiated among young students all over the country to “protect” the red socialist power during the Cultural Revolution, play an important role in the story. It is the Red Guards who caught Mu at home and organized the session of public denunciation. The author writes, “God knew how they came to know there was a bad woman in our town” (Jin 4). This actually constitutes a suspension in response to the narrative behind.
In the atmosphere of hailing all “revolution enthusiasm,” from publicly denouncing teachers at school to intervening various trifling matters in the neighborhood, the Red Guards was entrusted an unlimited power to take whatever “revolutionary action” that was necessary in their eyes. Assuming to be holders of truth and justice, they shouldered spontaneously the great responsibility for removing any thoughts and practices that might “harm” the socialist cause. Naturally, they would not mind traveling seventy kilometers to come and denounce Mu, the “demon” and the “snake” in the town, whom they did not know at all.
As a group of juveniles that had been brainwashed by the extremely Left trend of thought, the Red Guards never realized that their dehumanizing means of punishment like planting paper hat on people’s head, cutting their hairs, or parading them against their will, were flagrant violation of their human rights, and that they were against the law of protecting people’s basic rights of living. They were just afraid that what they did was not “revolutionary” enough.
The most noticeable point in the story is the wording of the Red Guards towards Mu, “the criminal,” and the three visitors of her house. They asked her first, “Why do you seduce men and paralyze their revolutionary will with your bourgeois poison?” (Jin 7). Obviously, the word “seduce” is connotative of vicious intention and spiteful behavior while “bourgeois” is a sensitive label to which nobody would like to have any relation during the Cultural Revolution. Contrarily, the frequenters of her house become people with “revolutionary will.” Ironically, the Red Guard asked the question “solemnly,” without any awareness of the ideological color in his wording. Mu is further depicted as the “parasite that sucked blood out of a revolutionary officer” and the “snake” that swallowed the money of a peasant; whereas the peasant who visited her house became the object of sympathy—“a poor peasant who worked with his sow for a whole year and got a litter of piglets. That money is the salt and oil money for his family, but this snake swallowed the money in one gulp” (Jin 12). Nobody in the town takes the trouble to think why Mu is the sole culprit that is condemned.
When Mu confessed that the third man that visited her house was a Red Guard, who led the propaganda team that passed there last month, the crowd broke into laughter. This might be the response to the sentence above, “God knew how they came to know there was a bad woman in our town” (Jin 4). As readers, we cannot say for sure, but it is not any wrong to guess that the Red Guard, who had been beaten black and blue, may have plotted behind the scenes such a “revolutionary action” against Mu. Deploying this incident, the implied author launched a satire on the Red Guards as a whole, who assumed to be removers of bourgeois practices, while some of them were doing something against which they are denouncing. More importantly, they were taking advantage of the “revolution” to revenge their personal enemies. The implied author seems to highlight that the Red Guards are human beings that may err, not saints or sagas that they assume to be. Naturally, their motives, values and practices are questionable.
Nevertheless, the leader of the Red Guards is skillful and experienced, who distracted the public attention with the following remarks: “We all have heard the crime Mu Ying committed. She lured one of our officers and one of our peasants into the evil waters, and she beat a Red Guard black and blue. Shall we let her go home without punishment or shall we teach her an unforgettable lesson so that she won’t do it again?” (Jin 14; with my emphasis). With his words, the denunciation was directed again at Mu; and meanwhile, the introspection incurred by the episode of the Red Guard was interrupted successfully.
As a central focus of the public denunciation, Mu appeared to be “rather calm” when she was caught at home. She neither protested nor said a word, but followed the Red Guards quietly. In her eyes, these Red Guards were only a group of children. She did not expect that the join forces of the Red Guards and the “revolutionary masses” in the town would be tremendous enough to put her in destruction; more importantly, she did not think that her behavior had violated any rule or law. When her husband appealed to the Red Guards, she stared at him without a word, and a faint smile passed the corners of her mouth. In her eyes, the behavior of her impotent husband is pedantic and ridiculous. When the Red Guard asked her why she “seduced men and paralyze heir revolutionary will,” she responded “rather calmly” with a rhetorical question, “I’ve never invited any man to my home, have I?” When several women hissed in the crowd, she even tried to persuade them by citing her own experience: “Sisters,” she spoke aloud. “All right, it was wrong to sleep with them. But you all know what it feels like when you want a man, don’t you? Don’t you once in a while have that feeling in your bones?” Contemptuously, she looked at the few withered middle-aged women standing in the front row, then closed her eyes. “Oh, you want that real man to have you in his arms and let him touch every part of your body. For that man alone you want to blossom into a woman, a real woman—” (8)
If we do not doubt whether a woman living in the town at the end of the 1960s can speak in such an undisguised way, we may take her speech as a declaration of women liberation movement. In this sense, Mu is already a feminist with a strong awareness of subject. She is not only courageous to ignore the social norms, but also brave in breaking the patriarchal tradition.
Analyzed from the perspective of “story time” versus “discourse time,” the large space that the speech has occupied in the whole text can be interpreted as a strategy used by the implied author to “invite” readers to slow down and think about the rationality of Mu’s behavior. It is also at this point that the implied author has shown his controlled sympathy on its heroine Mu.
The speech, to some extent, also provides a footnote for Mu’s calmness in front of the Red Guards and the gathering crowd. According to her own logic, she has done nothing wrong. Compared to the “withered middle-aged women” standing in front of her, she even feels proud of her face that is “white and healthy like fresh milk” (Jin 4).
Imaginably, as a victim of the gang rape, she must have experienced a hard time of being treated with disdain. Instead of being hit to death by the accident, she has walked out of the shadow of the concept of chastity, and began to enjoy the pleasure of the flesh as well as economic benefits brought about by men, the invader of her virginity. The bitter time she has experienced has actually hardened her heart and paved the way for her further self-liberation, both physically and spiritually.
While she was indulged in her speech, a heavy blow from a stout young fellow silenced her. This is a clear signal that her liberation declaration cannot be accepted. At the bottom of their hearts, they may agree with her, but, to defend their “dignity” and the so-called moral principles, they have to conceal their real thoughts and appear to be resisting it strongly. When Bare Hips’s mother pointed out that she had her own man and that she should not have others’ men and pocket their money, Mu glanced at her husband and smirked, “I have my own man?” She straightened up and said, “My man is nothing. He’s no good, I mean in bed. He always comes before I feel anything” (Jin 8). Viewed from a modern perspective, Mu has good reason to divorce her husband, yet in her times, to divorce was almost impossible, and more importantly, a divorced woman would be condemned too. If she could not bear the life without sexual love, she could only keep illicit sexual relations with other men.
As Grandma predicted unfortunately, Mu’s mole beside her left nostril was not a beauty-mole, but a tear-mole, and her life would be soaked in tears. Like the old Chinese saying goes that a femme fatale often suffers unhappy fate, it seems impossible for Mu to get rid of the odd lots. The bitter feeling of being gang raped has passed, yet the evil influence of public denunciation would linger on for the rest of her life. For a woman, the existence of a husband is, to some extent, like that of a guarding dog in the yard, which possesses a sort of deterrent force. Imaginably, as a widow in the town, she would confront harsher treatment. As long as the “revolutionary” mentality continues, her personal safety is out of the question.
When a large bottle of ink smashed on Mu’s head, she broke into swearing and blubbering. In order to get rid of her “counter-revolutionary airs,” the Red Guards decided to cut her hair. Despite her appealing, her permed hair became the sacrifice of the Red Guard’s scissor. After these sufferings, she became another person, from appearance to air.
At the end of the denunciation, Mu was asked to parade the street, with a huge paper hat planted on her head and a big placard between the cloth shoes lying against her chest. On the placard, there are the following words:
I am a Broken Shoe
My Crime Deserves Death (14)
They put a gong in her hands and ordered her to strike it when she announced the words written on the inner side of the gong. Up to this point, her pride and beauty has disappeared completely in front of the strong, collective will of the Red Guards and the “revolutionary masses.” She has lost her normal rights as a human being in the society. Anybody can call her name, hit her, or throw stone at her. She becomes again a victim of the collective action under the name of “revolution.” The story ends with a plain sentence: “She was lying at the bus stop, alone” (Jin 16). With this terse sentence, the implied author casts again his sympathetic eyes on the unfortunate woman. The implied author seems to be murmuring that, after all, she is only a tool, a sexual tool for the group of Russian soldiers, the visitors of her home, and an outlet of the Red Guards’ “revolutionary enthusiasm” and “revolutionary action.” As the target of public denunciation, she is the greatest victim of the event: she has lost her beauty—her capital to be proud as a woman—as well as her dignity as a normal person in the society; and most importantly, she has lost forever her husband, who once offered her a shelter from the wind and rain outside, a material home whose existence was often ignored by her.
Meng Su, the husband, is a dwarf peddler, who sells bean jelly in summer and sugarcoated haws in winter. He is such a kind and humble man that he calls the Red Guard, “Comrade Red Guards” and “sister” though they are much younger than him. In order to persuade the Red Guards to set his wife free, he is ready to kneel down. Compared to the calmness of his wife and her shouting abuse when someone put ink on her head, Meng looks more like a woman than a man. This is very likely a manifestation of his position at home.
Though some people in the town consider him as “a born cuckold,” Grandma, “for some reason, seemed to respect” him, believing him to be a good-hearted man (Jin 7). Though in the eyes of his wife, Meng is not a qualified good husband, he himself assumes in public his role as a husband, a master. When he begged the Red Guards to set her free, he said, “It’s all my fault. I haven’t disciplined her well” (Jin 5). The word “discipline” is connotative of a sort of power and authority. It seems that he is appealing for his children who have made mistakes at school.
Yet when his wife revealed in front of the crowd his “shortcomings,” his pride and dignity as a man and as a husband were smashed into pieces. The gossip of the town people and the public denunciation of his wife had brought him embarrassment, but the key factor leading to his unexpected death was his wife’s public disclosure of his “scar.” As the story goes, Mu glanced at her husband and smirked before she announced the shocking “secret”; yet a few minutes later, when she turned her eyes to the spot where her husband had been standing, he was no longer there. Obviously, Meng followed the crowd to the site of denunciation though he failed to get his wife free, and hearing his wife’s condemnation, he left quietly.
Like the image of God in the Bible, who was born to deliver those from an abyss of misery, but was perished to death, Meng spared no effort to save his wife, providing her a comforting shelter, but was pushed to death at the end. Did he commit suicide out of the feeling of shame or the feeling of guilt towards his wife? Whatever the reason is, he must have been overcome by the overwhelming despair. Through his corpse with “so many openings,” the implied author seems to tell people the various injuries he had suffered. His “opening mouth” seems to be relating his feeling of helpless in front of the social upheaval and his vast sadness as a social outcast. Like his body, his heart had been crushed to pieces too. The figure that “he looked like a large piece of fresh meat on the counter in the butcher’s” (Jin 15) indicates his tragic life that was bullied and humiliated by people around him, including his wife.
The text mentions several times his tearful eyes. When he answered the Red Guards’ question, his small eyes was tearful; when the town people teased him by urging the Red Guards to “take him too” (Jin 6), he looked scared, sobbing quietly; when his wife stared at him contemptuously, he winced under her stare; and finally he “had spoken with tears in his eyes to a few persons he had run into on his way to the station” (Jin 16). A symptom of weakness though, tears in his eyes also relate the various grievances and humiliations he had suffered and the feeling of helpless and despair that nobody understood. However, his rough death under the running train seems to be asserting his bravery, his resistance and his indictment.
The toot of the train that appears twice in the story is another strategy used by the implied author. The first time it appears as an echo to highlight the farcical nature of the public denunciation. The young driver, who just toots to attract attention of young women beneath the track, is analogous to the Red Guards, who takes the public denunciation as a political game. The second time, however, with the word “screamed” being used, serves as a warning of the coming catastrophe. The text writes, “It was strange, because the drivers of the four o’clock train were a bunch of old men who seldom blew the horn” (Jin 13). As it turns out later, this is a signal of Meng’s violent death. Just as his defense for Mu and his pleading for leniency are weak and unheard, the signal of his death stirs no emotional disturbance among the masses. As the only person in the story who defends Mu and pleads for releasing her, Meng represents, for the implied author, compassion and humanity, and his death “dramatizes the loss of compassion and humanity” at least in the world of Mu Ying (Zhou 160).
The town people voluntarily joining the public denunciation can be considered as a collective voice, though an inconsistent one. When the Red Guards caught Mu and decided to parade her, the town people, including Grandmother, all felt a sensation of pleasure because some people have done what they wanted to do but failed to do due to various misgivings. They joined the session of denunciation not out of the “revolutionary enthusiasm” that is shared by the Red Guards, but out of the revengeful mentality of watching for fun. In the eyes of the town people, Mu is different. She wore a sky-blue dress while the other women “were always in jackets and pants suitable for honest work” (Jin 4). Even the small boys like the narrator can perceive her beauty. She is
… perhaps the best looking woman of her age in town. Though in her fifties, she didn’t have a single gray hair; she was a little plump, but because of her long legs and arms she appeared rather queenly. While most of the women had sallow faces, hers looked white and healthy like fresh milk. (Jin 4)
To some extent, it is her beauty that makes her stand out among the masses and leads to her suffering.
When Meng appealed to the Red Guards, a man in the crowd said aloud, “If you share the bed with her, why can’t you share the street?” (Jin 5). Hearing the words, many of the grown-ups laughed, and someone even suggested the Red Guards, “Take him, take him too” (Jin 6). Nobody paid attention to the poor man’s sobbing drowned out by the wanton laughter. Maybe because of their belief that Meng was “a born cuckold,” and that he had no pride of a man or a husband, nobody would like to support him. On the contrary, they took the advantage of his bad fortune to make fun of him. Through the behavior of these town people, the implied author seems to show readers the wicked side of human beings. Facing other people’s suffering, they would rather stand by and watch than stretch out their hand.
After the session of denunciation began, a middle-aged man cried after the Red Guard, with both hands in the air, “Down with Old Bitch Mu Ying!” (Jin 7). The text explains that: this man was “an active revolutionary in the commune” (Jin 7). Through the image of this man, the implied author seems to tell us that the public denunciation of Mu have provided a chance for those “enthusiastic revolutionaries” to show themselves off. When Mu was indulged in her long speech about women’s sexual desire, a stout young fellow struck her on the side with a fist like a sledgehammer. Yet questions like “How many men have you slept with these years?” are raised. Through these completely opposite behaviors, the implied author seems to condemn the hypocrisy of the town people. On the one hand, they openly sneer at Mu’s confession about her own sexual desires; yet on the other hand, they are eager to know the details of Mu’s copulation with different men, and command her to confess the specifics. “The conflict between what they openly despised and what they secretly yearn for conveys the town people’s distorted and suppressed desires, which have to be channeled through their verbal and physical abuse of other people who materialized their own suppressed desires” (Zhou 158-59). This is a display of typical voyeurism.
In addition, during the session, a farmer even shouted, “Sing us a tune, sis?” (Jin 11). Who is on earth more obscene, the denounced or the “revolutionary masses”? It is very likely that they just lack the opportunity or perhaps the money to do the thing that they are publicly denouncing against. Besides, it is hard to say clearly whether there are some people among the “revolutionary masses” who once yeaned for the body of Mu but was rejected by her. The public denunciation for them is a golden chance to revenge their rejected and unsatisfied desire.
With the violent death of the husband at the end and the wife Mu Ying’s “pathetic whining for home on the street” (Zhou 160), the wretched story that takes place “in broad daylight” touched the heart of every reader. Yet who should be responsible for their tragic lots? The Red Guards? The town people? Hearing her heart-rending appeal, are there anybody pondering over the denunciation they have been involved? Who is the real “evil monster” that directed such a tragedy?
As Chatman points out, the implied author is the source of the work’s invention (Coming to Terms 74), which “instructs us silently, through the design of the whole, with all the voices, by all the means it has chosen to let us learn” (Story and Discourse 148). The implied author in this story, deploying various narrative strategies like disguised narrator, the discourse time and repeated references, has rendered his generous sympathy to the husband, on whom compassion and humanity are manifested; and controlled sympathy to the wife, an imperfect figure with odd lots.
“Set mostly in a politics-intensive setting,” as Zhou points out in her thesis, “his [Ha Jin’s] stories often transcend politics” (154). A farce that happened in the crazy times, the story itself is a full display of humanity that is not confined to a particular society or specific times.
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