The Struggle of Xiang Lin's Wife

Kaleaf James

Lu Xun's story New Year's Sacrifice describes the sad story of a woman who endures much in her life and shows how it effects her throughout her later years and her fears of how it will effect her in the afterlife. The traumatic events that took place early in her life along with disrespectful comments from those in her community led to a fear in her mind about what would happen to her after she died.
The story is an indictment of traditional Chinese ideals. This woman, who is referred to as Xiang Lin's Wife, is often marginalized. In her early life, the woman lost her first husband and, as is finally revealed, ran from her remaining kin to live elsewhere and work for a family in the area. As a widow she becomes a secondary citizen in the eyes of others in her community. She is looked down upon but this seems to be preferable to how she is seen by those around her later in the story.
Despite her determination to have a quiet and simple life of servitude she is later kidnapped by the family she once ran from. This family forces her to remarry for their own capital gain. The woman fights so desperately to escape a second marriage which goes against all her religious beliefs. Lu Xun really shows the problems in beliefs and is able to portray them through this story in a way that will make the reader step back and say to themselves "this isn't right." By constantly showing this poor woman going through traumatic life changing events and then showing how those who should care for her show no compassion for her circumstances, Lu Xun is able to reveal these flawed ideals to the public.
Finally forced into submission she is married and the character really becomes mentally and physically torn down on her return to the story. Not only is the woman torn about as a human being by this great trauma in her life but also she later gives birth to a son who she loves dearly. The narrator informs us that overtime she adjusts to her life and while it assumed she is not as bright and joyous of a person as she once was she is satisfied in life once again.
She once again is tested in life in a way few could imagine as her second husband dies and her son is killed by a wolf. She returns to the town she once worked in and to her previous employers a broken human without the spirit she once had and is only met by superstition and treatment deserved by an outcast.
These terrible events cause her to question what her religious beliefs have in store for her and Lu Xun again is able to show Chinese ideals in a type of double standard held over women in these traditional views.
Through looking into the meaning of this story just a little deeper than the sad story of a poor woman one can see how Lu Xun has cleverly used this story and an extreme example of many traditional views that may need to be reconsidered and adapted to better suite the people of China. The New Years Sacrifice really goes into great detail portraying the traditional views and how they can be used to debilitate a society and limit the mind of the individual.
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