The impact (or lack thereof) of the Chinese Revolution of 1911 is seen throughout Lu Xun’s stories. In particular the works “Diary of a Madman”, “A New Year’s Sacrifice” and “The True Story of Ah Q” provided evidence of changes (or lack thereof) the revolution brought to China. Focus in particular was paid to the topics of filial piety, female chasteness and Chinese conservatism, respectively in each story.
“Diary of a Madman” was a condemnation of the overbearing authoritarian nature of the Confucian virtue of filial piety, a respect for one’s parents and ancestors that often includes cannibalism, one of the four virtues found in the Sìzì. The story referred to practitioners of filial piety ideology as “man-eaters” who perpetuated a society in which the weak were devoured by the strong. The madman tried to indicate that a change was imperative with his plea “You should change at once, change from the bottom of your hearts! You must know that in future there will be no place for man-eaters in the world. …” He went as far as to say “If you don’t change, you may all be eaten by each other. Although so many are born, they will be wiped out by the real men, just like wolves killed by hunters.” A parallel could be drawn between his pleas and one of the many goals sought by revolutionaries, that of rejecting oppressive traditionalism, ignorance, and conformity. This goal was an attempt at addressing issues relating to China’s traditional ideology, a recurrent issue throughout Chinese history. The rationale of the revolutionaries was that traditional Chinese ideologies such as filial piety resulted in a tradition of self-destruction that had and if left unchanged would continue to repress Chinese growth in not only cultural aspects but politically, economically and socially as well. The madman’s final statement “Perhaps there are still children who have not eaten men? Save the children. . . .” spoke of the madman’s hope for the children and the future of China, a statement that was answered by the political and governmental change brought by the revolution and that signaled a new chapter for Chinese history.
“The New Year’s Sacrifice” portrayed a grim picture of a woman’s status and societal expectations. The story focused the reader’s attention on the stress that was placed on women to be chaste and remain loyal at all cost. The story presented Hisang Lin’s wife who being widowed tried to follow the societal expectations of female chasteness and loyalty to her dead husband, but was forced to remarry despite her best efforts to prevent it. A vivid description was given;
"It wasn't a question of being willing or not. Of course anyone would have protested. They just tied her up with a rope, stuffed her into the bridal chair, carried her to the man's house, put on the bridal headdress, performed the ceremony in the hall and locked them in their room; and that was that. But Hsiang Lin's Wife is quite a character. I heard she really put up a great...