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"Mr. China's Son" Review

1515 words - 6 pages

Mr. China's Son by He Liyi was an outstanding autobiography written in perfect English. The life of Mr. He was extraordinary and really displayed the details of China during the 1930's through the 1990's. A difficult time to live in, proves to be an enlightening story for the world to read when written by such a capable author.Mr. He had a limited amount of control over his own life. The government was very influential during He's life and had tight control over people nationwide. In an economy that stresses communist characteristics, it is difficult to make a life of your own because you and everyone else are required to work together for one collective benefit. This takes away from individuality. Jobs in the revolutionary period were not at a liberty to be chosen by the people, instead they were handed out and people were assigned work units. Mr. He was at the mercy of what the government gave him. He wanted to become a teacher of English and was very lucky to even attend college; however, his destiny was delayed for most of his entire life because of governmental restrictions and lack of personal control. He was thrown into labor thought reform camps by the government, he was struggled against multiple times, and illegitimately bullied by the village heads. All these things are examples of the lack of control over Mr. He's own destiny and life. The only control he did have was to make very small changes to his everyday conduct to tweak or alter and make the best of the situations that were given to him. The oppression he experienced lasted until the country became more liberated in the post-Mao era. The overall extent of Mr. He's control was not much more than that of a child under parental control.The balance between individual and external control was very unequal because external control always outweighed individual control until the post-Mao era when a more liberated China bloomed. Most of the book takes place before 1978 when things like work units, also known as "danwei", one's family name, and the reforms that constructed individual lives in spite of one's personal hopes and wants. The things to balance out the external control of an assigned work unit for example would be the fact that people began to construct a self identity with these units that they could be proud of and they identified with those they worked closely with. They did not have control over the unit but they could have control over the work they did and a possibility of advancing. In a reform camp that He Liyi went to he made bricks, and although this was horrible work he did the best he could and later moved up to cut hair. His identity was altered and shaped into being known as a great barber. This example of advancement illustrates the unequal balance of control because even thought he could advance, he could not escape, and there was a cap on how much he could do for his own benefit. Another example of balancing external control with individual control is one's...

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