Runaway Love

Joe Basalla

Zhang Jie's story, Love Must Not Be Forgotten, contains two tales, one of a mother and her lost love and the other of her daughter and her search for her true love. On a larger level, however, this story encompasses the theme of romantic love and its place in contemporary Chinese society. This controversial story is meant to bring into question the nature of traditional marriage in China, which at the time was often based on moral obligation.

Zhang Jie's story begins with Shanshan questioning her feelings for Qiao Lin, her "suitor," and contemplating the possibility of them one day getting married and whether or not it would be a good idea. While pondering these thoughts, Shanshan tells the story of her mother, Zhong Yu, and her mother's lost love, a married man, she barely knew, but frequently romanticized about. Shanshan, though she rarely witnessed her mother's feelings for the married man, read all about them in a journal her mother kept entitled Love Must Not Be Forgotten. Each entry was filled with "searing [expressions] of a heart afflicted with grief and love (5)."

The journal along with Shanshan's mother's advice led Shanshan to the realization that her happiness would not be limited by societal constraints and that she would choose who and what she thought was best for herself. That kind of an attitude indicates the change going on in Chinese culture at the time. As the Cultural Revolution, the period in China from 1966-1976, came to an end, the rise of individualism began to gain acceptance slowly. This period is represented in Love Must Not Be Forgotten as somewhat of a "transition" phase.

I consider this to be a transition phase and not full fledged individuality or modernity because both main characters, Zhong Yu especially, though they longed for their true love, seemed to, at the same time, run away from them. They make love an unattainable ideal and place it on a pedestal far above their reach. It is my belief that they do this because they are afraid of change and the unknown, which is common in most all cultures and far from being cowardice.

Zhong Yu, though she spent countless hours and nights, romanticizing about the married man, never worked up the courage to express her feelings because she was afraid of what society would think about her becoming involved with a married man. In my opinion, this is partial proof that China at the time is not in a state of modernity; she is still constrained by traditional Chinese society. Her daughter, though she is not tied to tradition like her mother, is still a victim of love, but in a different way.

Though one could argue that Shanshan's proclamations that she probably would not get married are proof that she sees herself as an individual, able to define her own destiny and live her own life, I see these as expressions of fear. She wants eternal or true love just like her mother, but like her mother she does not know what to do with these feelings. For her it seems as though it would be easier to suppress them than go on a search for her true love. I believe her actions show a person given new opportunities, but unable to deal with them. Instead of seizing the opportunities granted to her by a changing society, she gets scared and seems to give up on the ideal of true love when it's most important. A time in which she can actually act on her feelings and be happy without feeling as though she is doing something society deems to be wrong.

Sixty-Four Broken Legs

Andrea Brown

Zhang Jie's story, "Love Must Not Be Forgotten" contains a large amount of blatant social commentary, responding to the pressures that the youth of China had been experiencing for many decades before the story was published in 1980: torn feelings about whether to submit to traditional ideas of practical marriage or to express more individualistic, Westernized opinions on a marriage based on romantic love. Because the author is a woman, the narrator is an unmarried woman, and the story focuses on the narrator's mother and her suffering that stems from her social inability to openly love a certain man, it is easily assumed that the author is advocating an advancement of women's rights in light of individual choice and freedom. Indeed she is, but the story delves beyond the sole focus on the woman's perspective of true love and marriage. "I don't consider myself a feminist. My work opposes all social injustice," Zhang Jie says of herself in a brief biography written in the magazine Beijing Scene (2000). Though the author's gender, as well as the female perspective within the story, is important to the development of this fictional work, it is for all people and both sexes that she speaks.

Zhang Jie's quote about not being a feminist is interesting, because her idea of what defines a feminist is clearly different than my idea of it. When the story begins, the narrator mentions her suitor Qiao Lin whose physique resembles that of Myron's "The Discus Thrower." Though he is an attractive man, she cannot decide whether she even likes him. She talks of the quiet and childish way he speaks, making humor out of presenting him as perhaps less intelligent than the woman of the story. This makes the woman the subject and the man the object, which is reminiscent of such narration in Ding Ling's "Miss Sophie's Diary," where the "tall young man" is admired for his attractiveness but not much more. Zhang Jie, in my opinion, is clearly taking a feminist perspective through her narration in this part of the story. The narrator wonders whether there could be something "finer and more solid than law or morality to bind [them] together" in their marriage (2). Her questioning of her love for Qiao Lin and her expression of wanting more than a practical marriage shows that Zhang Jie is advocating a woman's right to define romantic love and marriage in her own terms.

Zhang Jie is a feminist if she believes men and women should experience social equality. She does talk from a female perspective, but she does not completely ignore men's feelings toward love and marriage. Though we do not know for certain how the man whom the narrator's mother loved so dearly felt in comparison, we do get a sense that he did love her and was also suffering. He presented her a gift of Chekhov works, without hardly knowing her, which is interpreted by all (those within the story as well as the reader) as a "token of love" (6). When referring to the latest novel by Comrade Zhong Yu (or the mother of the narrator), this mysterious man says, "The hero might also have been in love, you know, only denied his love in order to preserve another person's happiness" (6). Implied by this quote, this man seems to want to believe in true romantic love as an individualist sees it (for oneself, not for the sake of family or society), but traditional ideals of marriage were once too confounding that he succumbed to what he saw as his social duty. Now, however, when he scans Zhong Yu's every literary work, "he would never have understood why life had turned out this way" (7). Both man and woman suffered equally in their desire to love each other openly.

The most striking quote within "Love Must Not Be Forgotten" is at the end, when the narrator says, "I feel like shouting, 'Stay out of our lives! Allow us to wait patiently until that right person appears, and even if it never happens, don't make us rush blindly into marriage!'" (10). Zhang Jie speaks through this narrator, but is representing an entire generation of Chinese people, men and women, who hold individualistic views on romantic love and marriage, who want to avoid lives of suffering forced upon them by tradition and the state, and who want to experience the freedom of personal choice.

Follow Your Heart

Emily Swoveland

In traditional China, women had very specific roles to fill, and regarding marriage, there was very little option. Marriage was inevitable. Zhang Jie's Love Must Not Be Forgotten, however, shows China's progression in the women's movement, calling into question the very notion of love and the reasoning behind marriage.

The narrator of Love Must Not Be Forgotten finds herself rejecting her suitor, Qiao Lin, despite the fact that he is a "very proper suitor" (1). She rejects love and marriage as traditional China defined it, in terms of marital vows being economic transactions and love being convenience and the fulfilling of "only legal and moral duties" (2). The narrator doesn't want to settle for these traditionally accepted behaviors. She wants to find "something finer and more solid than law or morality to mind [her and a man] together" (2). She embraces individualism and fulfilling self desires and self needs.

The narrator's promotion of waiting for true love, a love that satisfies more than just marital obligations, a love completing the soul, mimics the drive of women to catch up with the advancements occurring in other aspects of Chinese culture. China had been undergoing numerous changes in governments, traditions, beliefs, and the economy, but women had yet to make any advances. Zhang Jie, being a female in China, wrote about what she knew: the role of a woman. To her, a woman's obligation to marry was one of the few remaining ties to traditionalism. A modern woman, she was ready to embrace individualism and free choice.

Zhang Jie contrasts the narrator's desire for true love and her willingness to wait for love despite constant critique with the situation of her mother's "lover". Her mother's "lover," a married man, represents tradition and obligation. He marries a woman to help support her family due to the untimely death of her father. He stays with her despite his suggested love for the narrator's mother. Because Zhang Jie shows the mother's desperation over this married man, she makes it clear that marriage for convenience and love without passion are undesirable, causing suffering and personal torment in those who believe in true love.

The narrator's confidence in her decision to postpone marriage until she finds her true love shows the desire of Chinese women to move forward to embrace individuality and self choice. Had the narrator's mother found peace within her yearning, Zhang Jie would be seen as promoting obligatory and loveless marriages. However, the mother's discontent dismisses that possibility, and the daughter's attitude and pride in accepting such a lifestyle removed from marital obligation show the desire of not just one fictional character, but of the women of a modernizing China to move forward from their traditional roles and fate as wives.

The Restrictions Put on True Love

Natasha Moyes

In the late 1970s, after fiction dealing with themes of romantic love had been banned from 1966 to 1976, stories dealing with this very theme of "true love" became widespread in China. Reminiscent of the attitudes of young people during the earlier May Fourth Movement, young people in China during this period were especially fond of these stories that questioned the tradition and norms of Chinese society, specifically those having to do with the practice of marriage. Zhang Jie's controversial story entitled "Love Must Not Be Forgotten" boldly discusses, as shown by her diary entrances, one woman's innermost feelings for a man who she greatly loved, but does not marry. Although many people criticized Zhang Jie's story, claiming that China's current attitudes towards marriage did not need changing and that "idyllic love is an illusion and that its pursuit can cause suffering," many others argued that marriages that lack love were an extremely prevalent problem in China. One critic, Dai Qing, agreeing with the latter claim, stated, "Why should we tolerate this condition? What is true morality- a marriage based on love or one that maintains socially required appearances?"

One of the main characters within "A Kiss," the narrator's mother, eloped with a man against her family's edict. Zhang Jie's entire story is dedicated to dealing with the implications of this decision. Before deciding to marry, while contemplating her future life, the narrator's mother claims, "We could lead our lives the way they do in most households, having children and staying with each other, strictly through loyalty as defined by law…treating marriage as a means of perpetuating the family, or as a business transaction…Since so many people have made a go of it that way, who am I to break to tradition?" As the reader reads this statement, he/she immediately wishes that the author would have chosen the more adventurous path and had the courage to rebel against tradition. The marriage that the narrator's mother enters into and speaks of seems to be a dreary one void of passion and love for the other person. As shown by the way that she speaks to her daughter about this marriage, it seems to be a commitment that the narrator's mother regrets and wishes she had never entered into. It is not for her daughter's father that the narrator's mother feels love for, but for another man from her past, a government official or a cadre. However, even after she is divorced, the narrator's mother is unable to marry her lover since he is married. In one of her entries in her journal, that her daughter finds after her mother has died, the narrator's mother writes, "We have pledged together to forget each other. But I've cheated on that pledge. I haven't forgotten you, and I somehow feel you haven't forgotten me, either. We've merely deceived each other, while trying to hide our torment. It's not that I've wanted to deceive you. I've tried so hard to forget, I really have." These are the kinds of emotions that should make up a marriage, those of deep love and passion, not an absence of true emotions that simply comply with ancient tradition. The closing statement, "Stay out of our lives! Allow us to wait patiently until that right person appears, and even if it never happens, don't make us rush blindly into marriage! Living alone is not such a terrible thing. Perhaps it's just a sign that life in our society is evolving, advancing…" perfectly sums up the narrator's mother's views of the way that marriage should be. However, the narrator's mother regrettably took a path in marriage that she did not truly want, but could not change or fix.

No matter what their opinions were on the matter of marriage in China, people praised Zhang Jie for daring to raise this issue in her writing and for presenting it in an in-depth, honest, and provocative way. Zhang Jie demonstrates, through the relationship of the narrator's mother and her lover, that true love that ignites one's soul must not go to waste. She encourages the young people of China to marry for a love that they deeply feel, not to please someone else or to comply with what tradition mandates as socially acceptable.

Sacrificing Oneself to Preserve Another or Unnecessary Unhappiness?

Izabella Redzisz

Zhang Jie's short story Love Must Not Be Forgotten, a brief retelling of a mother's lost love, speaks to the issue of marriage, and exactly how one should go about finding the right person for them, and whether finding that person is even possible at all. It is obvious that, when discussing her partner of two years, Shanshan is not as in love or as happy as she could be, but may be settling, simply due to a fear, which I think nearly every person has, of not being able to find what we're looking for. Though her mother's story of finding her true love but not being able to have him is quite different from Shanshan's, the situation of each woman brings about the question of exactly how selfish we are "allowed" to be, when it comes to love and our own happiness?

The prelude to Zhang Jie's piece discusses the youth of China during the late 1970s, in which it is stated that, "Most young people, of course, wanted both idealism and materialism, true love as well as "sixty four legs", an idea and truth which, in my opinion, is still universal. In societies all over the world, of the past as well as those which are current, people become from a very early age, in a way, obsessed with the proposition of finding love. According to the critic Xiao Lin, "idyllic love is an illusion, and its pursuit can cause suffering", a statement which I find to be very true. From an early age, people, particularly women, essentially base their entire lives and their measurement of happiness around whether or not they have found love, the usual consensus being that one's life does not feel entirely complete without it. In nearly all societies, the most common way for people to express their love for each other is through marriage. But, in a place such as China, marriage was, at the time, no more an expression of love than a social appearance. When speaking of the doubts she is having about her partner, Shanshan says "Perhaps I shouldn't have bothered thinking about all this. We could lead our lives the way they do in most households, having children and staying with each other, strictly through loyalty as defined by law," a statement which, due to its truth, is daunting, if not fear-inducing. Even today, when most marriages occur with freedom of choice, so many couples stay together not because they love each other, but because they believe it is the right thing to do. How can we truly weigh what is more important in a situation like that? Are we morally obligated to do what's "right", or should our primary loyalty be to ourselves and our own happiness?

Shanshan's mother states further on in the story that "when people are young, they don't necessarily know what they want or need in life. They can even get married just because everyone's pushing them to. It's only when you're older a bit more mature that you really understand what you need. But by that time, you'll have done things you'll regret so much your heart will ache. You'd pay any price for the chance to start over," an incredibly poignant assertion. It is obvious that one of this woman's greatest regrets in life is not pursuing her true love, though that act was in the name of preserving someone else's happiness. How can one gauge who is more deserving of going through such pain? Was it better for her, in the long run, to live with such a completely consuming pain in order to preserve the man she loves, (and that of his wife) or should she have done anything in her power to be with him, for the sake of her own happiness? I suppose that this woman has, for her love, provided the ultimate sacrifice-herself, which can be seen as both noble and, frankly, somewhat stupid. Though her situation is obviously far more complicated than I am giving credit for, it seems as though so many people go through life settling for something, rather than trying to attain what they truly want. Another question that arises out of this discussion, however, is whether or not we even really need love to be happy. It is universally assumed that to one person, there is another half, without which we cannot be complete, ultimately driving us into a life of loneliness, emptiness and despair. However, is the real problem that we, as humans, are turning to and relying on this idea of and potential for love to fill some kind of void, that we should be working on filling ourselves?

The Determination in True Love

Lucy Zhang

True love is something that every woman hopes for. Every woman has the fantasy that one day the perfect man will come along and carry her off on his white horse and off into the sunset. As unrealistic as that sounds, every woman secretly desires a portion of that fantasy. Of course that type of description of the perfect man only is told in fairy tales and stories, a similar and more modern version of true love is replayed in the minds of women. In the story, Love Must Not Be Forgotten, written by Zhang Jie, the mother, the main character, has found her perfect man. Even though she has a child and is separated from her first husband, her love for this man does not cease to exist. Even in her dying breath she speaks of this man and how they will meet in heaven and spend eternity together. Learning from her mother's love, the daughter, Shan Shan, questions her own relationship with her current boyfriend. According to her mother, finding true love is worth everything.

This story was written in the late 1970's, a period of time when China has stepped out of the traditional phase of arranged marriages and elders making marriage decisions for the younger generation and stepped into a new age where young people could choose their own mates and have freedom and individuality. Shan Shan was living in this period of time where she could decide for herself whom she loved and whom she could marry. Her current boyfriend, Qiao Lin, asked her to marry him and that was what triggered her doubts in her true feelings. She then looked at her own situation and asked her Qiao Lin why he wanted to marry her. After a long period of contemplation, he came up with; "Because you are good." His was an answer both empty and unconvincing. Shan Shan began to wonder if they both were really married what kind of marriage it would be and would they be able to fulfill each other's obligations.

She remembered the story of her mother and how she found her true love. Her mother was in love with a married man. Even though their love was impossible and he had his moral obligations, her mother still had hopes and knew that one day they could be together. In her mind, he was the perfect man in every way and Zhong Yu, Shan Shan's mother, was smitten. Although Zhong Yu only saw him occasionally, she was nonetheless very much in love with him. The sad part to the story is that the married man may have had no idea that Zhong Yu felt this way. He had his own life to live and family to support and had no recollection of her feelings towards him. This tells us that Zhong Yu was having a one sided love. The love was only coming from her, but she was content with it. She felt that knowing that there is someone out there that is perfect for you is good enough. She kept a recollection of all the feelings that she had and events that occurred in a journal. Through this journal, she could express her love for him freely and let out all of her inner turmoil and desires. Zhong Yu loved a man that may have not have loved her back, but seeing him once in a while and thinking about him kept her happy as well as motivated. She has found the one person in this world that is right for her and she would never let him go, even in death.

After reading her mother's journal and feeling the pain and anguish that her mother experienced for her true love, she feels that her love with Qiao Lin is false and insignificant. She came up with a bold notion that women should be able wait patiently until the right man comes along. Rushing blindly into marriage would only ruin the lives of women. Suffering until one's soul mate comes along is not a bad thing. Women should feel free to find the perfect person that they are compatible with and love and marry them with freedom.

Someday After the Age of Thirty Your Prince May Come

Elizabeth Bowker

Love Must Not Be Forgotten, written by Zhang Jie, begins with Shanshan, the thirty-year old narrator questioning her own identity and the reasons why she is reluctant to marry her handsome boyfriend. Her mother, who she was very close to, died and left her instructions to burn her private diaries and her set of Chekov stories with her body. Shanshan burned the books, but the not the diary. While reading her mother's dairy she discovers that the mother had a secret love. Although this story is set in the context of cultural revolutions specific to China, it also presents the reader with universal questions regarding true love, individual fulfillment, patriotic demands and the relationship of one generation with the next.

This story got me to think specifically about my own views in relation to love and marriage. Often times woman are not regarded as completely successful without a husband or children. Our society deems professional woman who are intellectually sophisticated and financially independent as incomplete or lacking something. This same reflection is not put on the male sex. Even at my young age women whom I am surrounded by view their success in terms of having a boyfriend or a date for Friday night instead of the grades that they receive on mid terms. This sexist viewpoint is embedded in many societal institutions from churches to schools to taxes. Is marriage simply another social contract that is used to make woman feel worthwhile and successful? Shanshan explains that there were not legal or moral codes that held her mother with her secret love, yet that "they belong completely to each other." Shanshan says that she "will not condemn my mother and her beloved for their breach of conventional morality," but that she feels sorry for them that they could not love each other openly and be happy. Shanshan claims that if people were not pressured into marriage, then tragic situations like her mother's would not be so frequent. Is our society's fixation with marriage preventing true love from happening or is it truly a tool for bringing soul mates together?

I personally feel as if many women in our society have a sense of duty from friends, family and society to get married. Getting married at a young age is celebrated and even admired. To be young and in love is the dream of every American girl over the age of twenty. Images of a prince charming coming and sweeping princesses off their feet are in the dreams of every little girl and conversations of bridemaids dresses and location weddings flood through every high school cafeteria. Several times I have been greeted by wedding invitations in my mailbox from girls that have graduated just one or two years ago. Does the thrill of the actual marriage title and opportunity to scream "I am in love! No need to worry about this girl anymore!" overshadow the realities of marriage? When one marries early their chance for finding love in other places is limited. One can no longer look for someone who is better suited for them, or who might be their true love. I want to tell these girls who are getting married so young to wait and see what else life has to offer. Society paints a picture in women's heads from a young age, a picture of marriage as the ultimate success and everything else from girlfriends to professions as secondary. This pressure for women to get married leaves them in a state similar to Shanshan's thought "Then you are shackled in a marriage without love and, unable to escape, suffer through it for the rest of your days."

Love and Marriage

Jesse Hoselton

"Love Must Not Be Forgotten" was written by Zhang Jie in China during the 1970s when romantic love was just starting to become a new fashion again for many youths. Until this time, marriages had been, for the most part, arranged for social, political and moral reasons and certainly not for reasons of love. This story reveals both the theme of choosing to marry for love, as well as displaying how people were still not always attaining a marriage of love even now that they had the option.

Shanshan is the narrator of the story in which she pieces together the tragic love her mother had veiled from everyone but herself for many years. From the story she gleans from her mother's diary, Shanshan is able to reflect on how she wants to live her life. Before telling us her mother's story, she speaks of the warnings her mother gave her before she died.

In her mother's first piece of advice she says to Shanshan: "if you decide what you want in a man, I think staying single is much better than marrying foolishly." Her mother had found her "soul mate" after she had already married, and her beloved was married at the time as well. This beloved had married the daughter of a man who had given his life to save him. His marriage fit well under the category of traditional marriage because he had married for moral reasons, not love.

Shanshan's mother said that she had married because "when people are young, they don't necessarily know what they want or need in their life…they can even get married because everyone's pushing them to." Shanshan later echoes this problem of people pushing the youth into marriage. Shanshan herself states at the beginning that "at thirty a republic is still very young, but a woman is in danger of reaching the 'unmarriageable' age."

However, while Shanshan may feel like she is being pushed into a marriage lacking love when she first begins the story, her opinion is quite firm on the matter by the time she has finished telling her mother's tale. She feels that she ”cannot condemn my mother and her lover for their breach of conventional morality, but…why didn't they wait to find the other soul that was calling to them?"

This idea of waiting for the love of your life certainly goes with the blossoming love theme of her time, but it may also reveal the hesitation women felt now that they were given the choice to marry for love. Shanshan feels that "living alone is not such a terrible thing," perhaps because the idea of finding that one man seems so out of reach that she must give herself courage for a case that she may fail. Her mother at the beginning may have planted this seed of worry when she tells Shanshan that "the right man does exist… [But] I'm afraid you won't find him."

Despite whether one is able to find that true love or not, the theme remains that one should cast away old traditions and find love for their lives. At the beginning Shanshan wonders "might there be something finer and more solid than law or morality to bind us [husband and wife] together?" Clearly she has been touched by her mother's story, and wants, like most youth of her time, to marry a man she truly loves.

Newfound Independence

Brendan Frett

“Living alone is not such a terrible thing” (Love Must Not Be Forgotten)

In the 1970s, China started to embrace individualism with women and feminism. Women were pioneers to the idea of living their own lives. For centuries in the past women had to listen to their fathers as to whom to marry and to "love." They were sold as property for the prosperity of the family: "People have been…for several thousand years…treating marriage as a means of perpetuating the family, or as a business transaction in which love and marriage are quite separable" (Love Must Not Be Forgotten).

This idea of individualism scared many women. They did not understand the lives they were thrown into. Women moreover wanted to do nothing and take a long break from the commitment of marriage. It was a transitional period in China for women: they finally were given a choice in the outcome of their lives, and they usually chose to do nothing.

In Love Must Not Be Forgotten, written by Zhang Jie, Zhong Yu kept a diary in which she discussed her life in relation to being in love with a married man. The diary, at first, was very frustrating to Zhong Yu's daughter, Shanshan, because it seemed pointless. However, the diary eventually became meaningful when towards the end Shanshan noticed that it symbolized hope: "Stay out of our lives! Allow us to wait patiently until that right person appears, and even if it never happens, don't make us rush blindly into marriage!" Shanshan realized that it is better to wait and never find love than to rush into things. If women rushed into things, solely for the purpose of finding a mate, they would be no better than the fathers who forced their daughters to marry for economic prosperity. All their hopes of finding true love would be gone. Because the women wait, they have hope.

It may appear that Zhong Yu was waiting for true love by keeping a diary, but it was quite the contrary. She actually found true love in the diary: she had a diary filled with hope, rather than a marriage filled with emptiness.

Why did Zhong Yu choose to keep a diary about a married man? Because she wanted to make her love more or less unattainable. She wanted to have true love in the form of a fantasy. If she could love someone unattainable, then she would have complete control over her life. The married man was not telling her that he did not love her, nor was he telling her that she could not have him. Because he was married, Zhong Yu could not confront him; therefore her love was solo and it was what she made of it. China told her to be independent and she found her independence through her diary.

Love Must Not Be Forgotten is not a story about women being afraid or running away from love, but rather women adjusting to the new independence China set forth for them. It would be irrational for people to expect women to jump right into true love relationships when they had just got out of father-forced relationships. Like Zhong Yu, many other women needed a break, and because they chose to have a break, they expressed their newfound independent lives.

A Force Stronger Than Death

Haley Jung

Is there such a thing as eternal love? Some, like Shanshan, believe so; her mother is the perfect example. Love Must Not be Forgotten, not only is the title to Zhang Jie's story, but it is also the name to a treasured piece of work written by Shanshan's mother, Zhong Yu. It was a story of her unspoken love for someone she never even spent nearly 24 hours with or given an innocent hand shake to. Though the man she deeply longed for was married, his feelings for her were mutual; you could feel it between them. They have always loved each other, but couldn't act on these feelings, they had to admire one another from afar and wait till their time to be together came.

Zhong Yu married young and had a daughter with a man she never loved and who never loved her. They eventually separated which left Shanshan to question love and marriage. "If you can't decide what you want in a man, I think staying single is better than marrying foolishly" were the words of wisdom from Shanshan's mother. Zhong Yu never married again which made Shanshan pity her mother being alone all the time. Though Zhong Yu was single, she still believed in love but Shanshan didn't understand – until she read her mothers' story.

Shanshan was nearing the dangerous age where she may become "unmarriageable." But she had a suitor named Qiao Lin who was a very attractive man that every woman wanted. What else could she ask for? Well, maybe for him to talk. All he could say was "good" or "bad": Shanshan wanted more out of love. After her mother's death, her mother wished to have all her stories burned, but Shanshan couldn't part with her story of her mother's true love. Shanshan in a way envied what her mother found, even though she was never with him; she was blessed because she felt true love, and Shanshan wanted that – not someone who just looked good on the outside. Zhong Yu knew one day they would be together finally and nothing would break them apart. Even as Zhong Yu lay dying, she wrote her last words longing to go to heaven to be with him.

In the end, we do not know what happens with Shanshan and Qiao Lin – all that we are left with are Shanshans thoughts. She feels that living alone is a sign that life in their society is evolving; no one should be rushed into a marriage just because of culture or tradition. Though people will think differently of you, and maybe exclude you thinking there is something wrong with you, it will be worth it – waiting for true love in any form. Shanshan was proud of who her mother was and respected how moral she remained regarding her feelings for a married man. She stayed loyal to her feelings, mourned when he passed away, and wished everyday to be with him without hurting anyone's feelings.

The Grief and Love it Bore

Kaleaf James

Connections between people can last and change a lifetime. A mother struggles to cope with an unattainable love, in Zhang Jie's story "Love Must Not Be Forgotten." After Zhong Yu's passing away, her daughter discovers in the pages of a diary a secret affair between her mother and a man whom she barely knew but loved with all of her heart. As an old lady Zhong Yu has taught her many things but has always been very vague on issues of love, claiming true love exists but fearing one may never find it. Confusing her daughter even more, Zhong Yu never reflected on her beliefs in her own life, turning down suitors and opportunities at love to be alone.

Shanshan, Zhong Yu's daughter, has been struggling with a personal struggle in question whether or not to accept a marriage proposal. She has known the man for a good time and any woman would be attracted to him: however she questions if there is anything more to it. In seeking guidance she turns to her deceased mother and what she believes her mother would have wanted.

Only after Shanshan discovers her mother's hidden love in the diary does she finally make sense of the hidden love her mother had never been able to act upon. Only through reading this diary does she derive the truth about love. Her mother's fears that Shanshan may never find her true love are justified through her life's story. Because of their moral situations the two had never had a chance at love and never even spend an entire day together. Despite this fact Shanshan discovers an undying love that her mother has held for years to a man she knew she could not be with.

Zhang Jie's story questions the ideas of marriage and how fools marry young expecting happiness but never put forth an effort to find that person they are meant to be with. In the closing, communism is brought into question of encouraging these arranged marriages that in fact kill true love. Arranging love is not true and just destroys the life of four people who will never find their love because of the legal connection of two.

"Living alone is not such a terrible thing." This message echoes through the life of Zhong Yu and becomes a great lesson that is passed down to her daughter through the accidental discovery of a diary. Shanshan's struggle becomes clear to her and she closes with strong statements opposing a rushed marriage. Being forced into a loveless marriage is worse than a life alone. Shanshan attacks communism with such statements and accusing such things as leading to the destruction of love which brings out the appropriate title of “Love must not be forgotten.”

This very simple story of a daughter learning through the experiences of her mother is really able to express a vivid point: that love is important in life, more important than a forced marriage for any economic or moral reason. Love is the answer and Zhang Jie is able to make this point so strong through the struggle of Zhong Yu's life.

Marriage and Outrage

Scott Danielson

In Love Must Not Be Forgotten, Zhang Jie combines numerous elements of social commentary and questions if China's society has truly evolved as much as it has claimed to have done. In addition Zhang Jie also seems to ask about the true nature of love. To do so, Zhang Jie uses the story of Shanshan and the discovery of her mother's diary.

The first element of the story is Shanshan’s personal situation and her struggle to understand love and what she really wants. Shanshan herself is in a relationship with a young man whom seems very much interested in her and very attractive. However Qiang Lao is not exactly extremely intelligent so much that when she asks him why he loves her he simply replies "Because you are good," but even then Shanshan is very flattered by what he says. Her only true doubting comes when she begins to think about marriage. Shanshan knows that she is attracted to Qiang Lao but she wonders if she is really ready to spend her life with him. Shanshan also looks at her mother's example of a woman who was never in love with her husband. Zhang Jie seems to portray this as the plight of a generation of Chinese women who must decide whether or not they wish to marry and if they truly know love.

The second and probably more important element is Shanshan’s discovery of her mother's diary entitled "Love Must Not Be Forgotten." In it Shanshan’s mother professes her love for another man that is bound in a marriage of personal obligation to a point that almost sounds like obsession. Her mother has become so concentrated on trying to find love after she has already been married that it seems to have consumed her every thought. It is questionable whether or not she even truly has anything with this man but what is obvious is that her mother's early marriage is the cause of her inner anguish.

The outrage that follows Shanshan’s reading of the diary seems to be the expression of Zhang Jie's true feelings about marriage. Shanshan is angry that marriage is such an obligation and that at the first opportunity a woman is expected to accept it. She wants to wait until she's sure she is in love before she commits for a lifetime and it angers he that her society most likely will not accept of woman living on her own at a fairly older age. In the end Shanshan turns on the society that forces marriage upon its youth and expresses her desire to not live the life her mother did.

Love Ought to be Forgotten

Kyle G. Christensen

Zhang Jie's Love Must Not be Forgotten is the story of a young woman, Shanshan, deciding on a marriage decision while reading the diary of her mother, Zhong Yu. Zhong Yu's diary discusses her experience of finding love later in her life, and how she deals with it. The question that comes to mind though, is would it be better if love was forgotten?

John Stuart Mill, in Utilitarianism, wrote "[T]he Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure." The summary of this theory is that the determination of a "morally good" action is based upon the results of that action and their influence upon the happiness of others. When determining the happiness of others, one's own happiness is not to be considered any more than anyone else's. Utilizing the Greatest Happiness Principle, it is safe to say that in fact, the ideal that waiting for true love instead of marriages for moral obligation is better, is false.

By waiting instead of marrying for moral obligation, people would be married later in life. Society maintains certain obligations to determine the age at which one should be married, and to undermine this would cause the population growth to plateau and eventually fall. As women give birth at later and later ages, and their children do the same, the birth rate falls. Because this has such a drastic and negative effect upon society as a whole, it would be considered an immoral action by John Stuart Mill.

Not only is this immoral, it is also an extremely selfish act that would simply not survive in practice. Zhong Yu has come to a definition of love that is hers alone. If everyone took her lead and developed their own definition of love, none would be compatible. If everyone had their own definition and they were all to wait eternally and to die before one finds their "true love" or "eternal love", no one would ever get married because no one would ever find someone who fit their definition and that they fit as well.

"Love of an individualist"

Nick Robison

"Love must not be forgotten" advocates the virtue of being an individual that such stories as "a madman's diary" and "family" advocate. The concept that a woman is obligated to marry a man was still widely practiced in China and the rights of women were still practically non-existent. The story reveals to the reader a perspective that might not have been expressed before which is the view of the oppressed woman in traditional Chinese society. Throughout the course, this class has read many stories with male narrators in which they talk about such atrocities in traditional Chinese society, but rarely, if at all, has this class been able to read a story that is narrated by a woman. This story celebrates the individualist ideals that the main character, "Shansan," as her mom would call her, has. Lucky enough to have a liberal mother, Shansan had been able to make the decision not to marry her suitor in fear that she does not truly love him. The title explains it all; love must not be forgotten and in fact must be remembered for what it stands for. Love is not an obligation towards a man, but on the contrary it is the decision made by a person with no other external influences such as family to help make the decision. Love is more of a free decision in which the woman or man is content with the choice he or she has made because he or she knows that they will have no negative repercussions if they decide not to get married. Traditional China had turned love and marriage into an economic venture rather than a celebration of the feelings a man and a woman have for each other. Critics have argued that true love is an illusion and that one will live his or her life in turmoil if in pursuit of love because they will never find it. The problem with this statement is that for the woman, the marriage itself can be hell if the woman does not love the man. It is better if the woman does not find the right man rather than be married to a man she does not love and live the rest of her life not knowing if she could have ever found her true love. Shansan's choice to live her life single rather than marry her suitor reflects the idea of being single rather than being married to a man that she might not love. Thus the individualist lives on instead of becoming one of the many women who are stripped of their identity and everything that makes them a human being.