Essay on When I was in Xia Village - Essay Prowess

Essay on When I was in Xia Village


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When I was in Xia Village


By reading literature from other parts of the world, one comes to terms with the notion that human beings are essentially the same despite strong forces attempting to show otherwise. “When I was in Xia Village”comes out as a candid read from the renowned Chinese author Ding Ling (1995). By objectively analyzing the characters in the narrative, it is expected that a common theme will be established.

Reading Response

Character Analysis: There are a number of dominant characters in the book, When I was in Xia Village”authored by Ding Ling (1995) who offer a unique perspective into the under workings of their community. It revolves around an 18 year old lady named ZhenZhen who wished to be betrothed in marriage to Xia Dabao. Unfortunately, her parents had determined to marry her off to a prominent member residing in Xiliu Village (Ding, 1995). It was during that time when emotions of all family members run high especially after ZhenZhen was abducted by the occupying Japanese forces. ZhenZhen returned back to Xia Village about one and a half years later (Ding, 1995). From the characters in the stories, one is able to understand the different perceptions amongst different community members about how much ZhenZhen has changed (Ding, 1995). Through the narrator, one is able to read the social, emotional, and psychological conditions motivating their behavior towards ZhenZhen.

Reasons Behind their Choices: The unnamed narrator appears to be an open minded individual with a meticulous knack for detail. She holds a position at the Communist Party that makes her a respectable member of society. The narrator appears genuinely concerned with the wellness of all persons around her. She travels to Xia Village in the company of another member of the Communist Party, Agui (Ding, 1995). Agui has been to the village before and seems to know the place well. However, she is apprehensive throughout their journey of how the bad the situation could be given that the Jap devils had been terrorizing Xia Village. Once she finds that the people are not in as bad a position as she envisaged, Agui becomes joyful, vibrant, and excited to be among the villagers. However, she is most affected by the tragedy that befell ZhenZhen at the hands of the Jap devils (Ding, 1995). She is quoted as saying that being born a woman means one has to make sue with living a rather cursed life. She exudes a great degree for understanding concerning what ZhenZhen went through in the hands of the Japanese.

Theme: The commonly occurring theme in “When I was in Xia Village” is conflict between the old and the new. Amongst the older community members, ZhenZhen is now soiled and should not have returned home. However, this is not the case among the younger community members like Xia Dabao, Agui, and the narrator. To them, there is more that the future promises which make it a worthwhile cause to disregard the past. The rest of the community is uncomfortable about ZhenZhen coming back home after being forced into sex slavery by the Jap devils. To the older members of the community, she is considered a tainted woman who ought not to have come back as show will end up tainting the entire village (Ding, 1995). ZhenZhen is no longer the person she used to be, she is coldhearted and no longer considers her parent’s advice. Her quest is to gain treatment and stay away from her village. She hopes that a new environment where she can study and work hard will enable her live a normal life. However, her lover, Xia Dabao wishes that he could still gain ZhenZhen’s parent’s permission for her hand in marriage (Ding, 1995). ZhenZhen seems not to understand why he would still lover her yet she is now as dark as a scar.

The moral of the story is that the younger people project hope for the future after the consequences of prolonged conflict suffered at the hands of the Jap aggression. Though the elderly wish to condemn those tainted by the Japs, the narrator and the youth look forward to a future that is devoid of such retrogressive traits.


Ding, L. (1995). When I was in Xia Village. In Lau Joseph S, M. and Howard Goldblatt, eds. The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.