Yang's story crosses the period over three different decades. She was from a revolutionary cadre's family. After spending her early life in Switzerland, she joined the Beijing 101 Middle School, which is a high school for elites. After the Cultural Revolution broke out, she actively participated in Red Guard activities in Beijing like her peers in China. As an educated youth, she later devoted her five years on a pig farm in a village located at northern China, herding pigs and performing other physical labor. Although grew up with faith in the Communist Party and love for Chairman Mao, she enthusiasm for revolution and devotion to the new China ended after suffering from hardship of physical labor.
Spider Eaters is a document recorded by Yang, someone who actually participated in and witnessed the Cultural Revolution, so Spider Eaters qualifies to be a primary source related to Cultural Revolution in China.
However, as historical document, what Spider Eaters tell us about the Cultural Revolution? More specifically, how reliable and relevant it is? In the follow, I will discuss the quality of Spider Eaters as a primary source.
When determining the quality of the primary source, I will first examine who created the source and why. As the author of this text, and a person who experienced the Cultural Revolution, Yang has firsthand knowledge of the event. So Spider Eaters is one hundred percent reliable as a historical document? Not necessarily, it is important that we look at why Yang wrote this memoir. Besides recording her life, the main purpose of Yang creating this memoir can be interpreted by the book title. She believed "historic lessons were obtained through tremendous sacrifice." Those who record eating spiders will share their experience to the later generations, "So afterwards people stopped eating them." This...