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Satire on Serve the People Essay


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The Use of Satire on Serve the People!

The book Serve the People! Is a popular Chinese book written by Yan Lianke, who is also a profound author of the Chinese people, who through his use of various literary devices and skills, he brings out the aspect of love interesting. Through his use of humor and rhetoric analysis, he creates interest in his readers, one thing he uses to capture his audience’s attention. Satire is also used in his writings and dominates the larger part of this book, in which he creatively uses satirical language in describing the forbidden love story between Liu Lian, who was the young wife of a Division Commander in China, and who Wu Dawang was their servant. In this book, Yan Lianke manages to combine satire with humor in various contexts to bring out the aspect of love.

Yan Lianke says that “On both men and women, army uniforms came out baggy, ill-fitting, and somehow had a leveling effect: they made the young look older and the older-younger; the attractive plainer and the plain more attractive.” This was because of that day Liu Lian had decided to put on the uniform something uncommon based on the way the Wu Dawang reacts when he finds her outside the house, (Lianke, 2008.) The author is satirical humorous when he says that that the uniform made the young look older and the older look younger, the attractive plainer and the plain more attractive. The author’s description can make us think that the uniform has the capability of changing the age of the individuals who are involved in wearing them, due to the way they are baggy, and not fitting. Yan Lianke also uses satire in describing the face of Liu Lian, when Wu Dawang was talking to her. He says that “He looked up at her stony face. That one night seemed to have spun a web of fine wrinkles out from the corners of her eyes.” Based on the description, the author compares the aging wrinkles on the face of Liu Lian to a spun of fine web in a manner that brings humor.

Another instance where satire has been used is when the author describes the quietness that preceded after the drill bell had stopped sounding when he says that the end-of-drill bell briefly drowned the room in sound, then died away. The bleak quiet returned, pressing suffocatingly down on him as if a tower, or stretch of the Great Wall or a mountain range were weighing upon his skull, (Lianke, 2008.)  Through the above description, we learn that Wu Dawang was frightened of what Liu Lian was going to do with him. Satirical humor enhances the description of how difficult it was for him to take the burden he was being introduced to and compares it to the mountain range or Great Wall weighing on his skull.

The author also uses satire in describing how Wu Dawang shivered when he heard Liu Lian talk about death. He says that Wu Dawang shivered when he heard her talk dying as if she had seen right through him, and into the terrible, ridiculous idea that had just seized him. He says that nervous that his murderous instincts had in some way betrayed themselves, he leaned over attentively and took her hand. This is satirical especially the way he describes the fear in him. It is funny and impossible that someone can see through us, but the author says that she seems to see through him and noted that he was trembling, something that portrays the aspect of humor in the text.

In summary, most of the writings in the text have used satirical language as a way of emphasizing the main issue or what precedes the main event in the context. Yan Lianke, with his creative use of language and styles in literature as the main technique in this novel to express different kinds of human traits and characterization, expression, and cultural values he mages to capture the attention of his readers. In this chapter, he uses two main characters, Liu Lian and Wu Dawang in expressing the main devices in literary, satire, and humor as a way of expressing themselves in the writings. The combination of the two brings out the creative part of the writer making it interesting to the majority of the audience and most readers.


Lianke, Y. (2008). Serve the people! Open Road + Grove/Atlantic.

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