Monday, November 08, 2004

chinese lessons

is there some sort of rule that proclaims that all chinese lessons should have a moral in the story? or be utterly and completely depressing? we just read a lesson in which some poor thirteen year old child has his home invaded by barbarians who rape, pillage and loot everything in sight, and then settle in for the long haul. his dad promptly turns into a spineless brown-nosing traitor who offers up his own wife -the poor child's mother- to the leader of the barbarians in an attempt to get on their good side and gain fame and fortune, as it were, under their iron fisted rule. the ignomy of it. of course, this child is a morally upstanding, highly intelligent, blahblahblah person, and therefore realises that the only thing left for him to do at this point is to kill his father, of course, in revenge for the insult to his mother's person -and his own, too.

on quite another note, isn't it interesting that in the chinese version, the child immediately realises he has to kill his father, while in another language and culture it is quite conceivable that he would either (a) immediately realise that his world has ended and kill himself; or (b) go mad.

however, this enterprising child manages to light his father and the guy who raped his mother on fire, but then gets caught by the guards and is shot dead. ah, it's not allowed to have a happy ending. and they teach a language class using this utterly morbid story. totally weird.

of course, the moral of this particular story is that loyalty to the country is more important than family (or moral values, for that matter, in that loyalty to the country is the moral value that trumps all others including Thou Shalt Not Kill) -yeah that rather throws you for a bender, doesn't it. here's how it works: child realises his father is a traitor -traitors are public enemies- public enemies should be sentenced to death on behalf of the public -therefore it is all right to kill his father and avenge his mother.

i can't quite get my mind around how entirely strange this lesson is. so i'm going to sit here and drink my jasmine tea and read about Southeast Asian history for a bit. ahh, the BA begins to scare me...


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