One of the main themes illustrated by Yunxiang Yan in the text Private Life under Socialism is the form of family in which he claims a significant change in the Chinese family. The conjugal relationship has replaced the patriarchal relationship as the central basis of the Chinese family. In this way, happiness depends on the nature of the conjugal relationship. The usual conflicts that could happen within a relationship could cause the partners to split by way of divorce or separate. However, in China, this could even lead to suicide. The sources of conflicts were emotional and social in nature, stemming from a patriarchal subjugation of the wife.
A Daughter of Han and Yang’s Perspective in Perspective of Post-1949 China
Both of them are understandable, but other types of conjugal conflicts are trivial and far more frequent because they can be caused by virtually anything in the environment. They are also innocuous and can surprisingly lead to suicide in some cases. Domestic violence focused on conflicts probably based on what the wife was obligated to do in marriage. In this case, traditions before the advent of 1949 China, allowed the husband to, regularly, discipline his wife in the way that he saw fit. The following illustration takes an example from the daughter of Han.
The narrator’s sister entered her marriage union at the age of fifteen. The union was ordinary as the suitor was about 3 years older than she was and had a trade. He was a barber. On the other hand, she describes her sister as too immature to comprehend the complexities of a conjugal relationship when she entered her marriage. She states that she was a child with the ways of a child and the heart of a child. In fact, she had not become used to housework, not knowing how to mix corn and wheat bread.
She had minimal experience in the kitchen and could not plan meals. At one meal, she might have cooked too much, while at the next, she cooked too little and while she did not have culinary skills she knew how to smoke. There was bitterness as her mother- in-law claimed the girl was not built for work, but only luxury. The girl was rebellious in nature that is not a prominent feature with female Chinese choosing to make a reed pipe and smoke when no one was around. The girl was surprised when her mother came and found her smoking, trying to hide it under her clothes, but it set the wheat chaff under the bed on fire.
It set the bed matting on fire and the mother in law beat her for this, until the husband came home. Instead of putting the matter to rest, she explained the story to her son and they set upon the helpless wife again while physically and verbally abusing her. These acts of abuse and persecution against the female where all too common during this period it seems, but a small percentage could not handle the burden placed upon them. Treatment of this nature by people that are supposed to be caring psychologically damages the individual.
As a result, female solidarity with this environment could be completely nonexistent. The conjugal relationship wipes all form of esteem from the mind. In the example of the narrator’s sister, she could not take the pressure and eventually lost her wits. On the other hand, the problem might be the level of intimacy between the husband and wife. Until the 20th century, the concept of intimacy was probably one of the rarest emotions in a marriage.
Intimacy and understanding are some of the main concepts allowing relationships to stand the test of time. This could be emphasized by taking an example from Yan Yunxiang’s text of a wife named Yang. A tractor from a neighboring village powered through her fence and destroyed some of her crop. Of course, the river apologized to her husband, but when she got home, she quarreled with her husband reproaching him for being a coward and not protesting the matter. After the tussle with her husband, she drank pesticide and died. Normally, such a situation would not provide cause for one to take such action.
Essential Elements to Conjugal Relationships as Shown in Six Records of a Floating Life and A Daughter of Han
On the other hand, if emotions pile up in such a way as to create a boiling point, due to lack of understanding and communication, then such a result is possible. A Daughter of Han and Yan’s Private Life under Socialism shows the different perspectives of conjugal relationships, where lack of key elements cause the collapse of a family. In comparison, Six Records of a Floating Life is a love story. From the Western perspective, it is seen as unique. This is because, though it is a love story between Sheng Fu and his wife Yun, it is still set in the traditional Chinese culture.
The love shared in their relationship is complex interchanging between the husband’s affairs with courtesans, that are a western version of prostitutes, and his wife’s numerous attempts to find him with a concubine. Even at present, the Chinese are fond of using economic and social coercion in the choice of marriage partners. That is why the text is popular to date because it illustrates the idea of a romantic relationship within the boundaries of the traditional Chinese setting. Conjugal relationships in this setting are ideal than the reality that is most Chinese families to date.
Post 1949-Chinese Economic and Social Set-Up
The post 1949 Chinese urban political culture had some distinctive features such as an unusual degree of bureaucratic control and allocation. There was increased stress on achieving quality and basic economic security for many centuries, Chinese rulers recognized the importance of family as functioning units of social mobility and stability. Confucian philosophy has numerous referrals to the family when describing the political realm. To this day it is hard to find another culture where family loyalty and obligations that have been emphasized and successfully inculcated.
After 1949, there was an attempt under the then communist regime to bring about changes both by family edicts and propaganda and by the environment where families are formed and their functions. In the decade after the communist victory in 1949, the state orthodoxy created new institutional and moral environments for families. There was collectivization of the economy and elimination of most private assets and property that destroyed a lot of economic motivation that shaped family loyalty as well as directly attacking ancestor worship. The focus turned toward communal contribution toward the common goal, thus, forcing the members of a family to focus on each other as individuals rather than the benefits obtained in the economic sense through each other’s work.
However, most were not able to achieve an appropriate level of interaction within their conjugal relationships even after the attention was taken from the economic gain of their work. Yunxiang’s example of s speech a daughter gave to her father gives an illustration of common problems within families leading to neglect and bitterness. The head of a family, Mr Hu threw a party and told his eldest daughter to comment on each member. To everyone’s surprise in the presence of around forty guests, when she commented on her father, criticized him for not treating her well.
She stated that she did not remember a time when he talked to her mother unless he absolutely had to, and always went out after dinner to spend time with his colleagues rather than be with her. She added that with his retirement he began to spend more time with the family, but still did not pay his wife attention. The oration shocked him and moved her mother to tears. The encounter caught him completely off guard; thus, it prompted him to improve on his conjugal relationship, which is something he had neglected for years.
The efforts were supposedly admired by his fellow villagers, and in a way, went some way toward the improvement of family harmony and building of a better life for the family. The post 1949 era welcomed the introduction of communism to the Chinese society. On the one hand, it destroyed the power and authority given to patriarchs in families courtesy of their removal of the economic logic of family businesses and farms. However, it also created demographic conditions for large households complete with extensive social and social ties to nearby kin.
These conditions were ripe for them to focus on the power of the family as a unit instead as the economic assets that it possessed. However, ties are not easily formed or broken. For example, Hu’s case where he was still attached to his friends and children, but did not re-connect with his wife until motivated to do so. Conjugal relationships were given second priority to economic gain or patriarchal relationships within the family. In some cases, it is as if the wife became a part of the children, meaning no conjugal, but a patriarchal connection between husband and wife.