10 April 2014
Value of Choice: A Post-Feminist Criticism of Wen Xiu from "Celestial Bath"
"Celestial Bath", a short story written by Geling Yan, tells the story of Wen Xiu. During Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution, many young Chinese teenagers were forced to join the People's Liberation Army. Many of these young adults, especially young woman, lost their innocence and much of their childhood. A girl who, like Wen Xiu and so many others from her generation, was forced to join the People's Liberation Army. A teenage girl from Chengdu, Wen Xiu was chosen for a position in the remote grasslands of Tibet to learn about horsemanship. On the vast Tibetan plain her only companion was her mentor Lao Jin, a weathered Tibetan horseman. Wen Xiu, as the story's protagonist, who makes a series of decisions in an effort to take control of her own unfavorable situation all in the hopes of getting the permit she desires to finally return home.
Wen Xiu made every conscious decision herself, whether it is good or bad, she took the steps and was never the victim of others actions but a product of her own choices.
Wen Xiu was at first optimistic about joining the People's Liberation Army believing she will make a difference and eventually return home on the assigned date. But everything changed when Lao Jin chose Wen Xiu, among the Intellectual Youth to learn how to herd horses. The authorities told her that there was no need for concern about living with Lao Jin, because "his thing had been lopped off long ago during a blood feud when the opposing clan grabbed Lao Jin" (Yan 65). Lao Jin was a man with few words; he has been herding horses for a long...