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Filial Piety in The Good Earth


filial Piety in The Good Earth

harmonious. By the same token there are no complicated subplots or subthemes. Shen Fu could not have blamed his father, otherwise he would have been an unfilial son. It is the duty of children to take care of their parents at all costs, even if that means sacrificing ones own children. Gossip generates misunderstandings, and misunderstandings have repercussions on peoples lives.

Free, filial Piety in The Good Earth



filial Piety in The Good Earth

But they barely talk with each other, and behind the curtain of family harmony and love, which are shown through the performance of ritualistic acts such as the common meals, there are problems and contradictions that will come to the surface in the course. This distribution of power allowed every individual to exert control over someone. In Book II of the Analects, Confucius explains to his disciples the meaning of filial piety: When your parents are alive, comply with the rites in serving them; when they die, comply with the rites in burying them; comply with the rites in sacrificing. There was no personal relationship whatsoever between the leaders and those whose lives they completely controlled. If Chinese society were truly harmonious, if individuals thought about each others feelings, if everyones actions were motivated by altruism and so on, there ought to be no gossip, no rivalry, no political oppression, no conflicts between parents and children, friends etc. This rule applies to many kinds of familial relationships.

In the Chinese family, on the contrary, hierarchy was based on personal relationships. This sense of obligation was so strong that it could be used as a means to control others. Wang Lung is a poor peasant farmer whose love for the land sustains him through the difficult times of his life. The idea that right and wrong depend on hierarchical position is shown by the following example. I think anyone who has lived in China or Taiwan has seen that these societies are absolutely not free from interpersonal tensions. While sons or daughters-in-law were powerless in their youth, when they grew old their turn came to command. Shen Fu writes about his life with a remarkable degree of candour, and with a great amount of details about the daily life and the society of his time. In fact, even the poorest of men in China was a king: a king in his own household.


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