"Wild Swans" by Jun Xhang.

Essay by jk610High School, 12th gradeA, October 2003

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Wilder Swans is an account of the lives of three generations of women during the turbalent times of 20th centry China. The story follows the family line from Yu-Fang, a warlord's conmcubine and doctor's wife, to her daughter, who, along with her husband, is a devoted member of the Communist Party. Finally, the author of the book, Jung Chang, tells of her experiences as one of Mao's Red guards during the chaotic Cultural Revolution. The personal perspectives and experiences of each woman clearly describe the evolution and development of China throughout the 1900s. The account of Yu-Fang, the author's grandmother, gives a vivid portrayal of traditional China, and its harsh and restricted lifestyle for women. The story of De-hong tells about the volatile life during the Japanese occupation and the Civil War between the Communist Party and Kuomintang forces. She sees the position of woman rise in society over time, but also experiences how Communism won the hearts of the Chinese population with false promises.

Lastly, Jung Chang explains the brutal and horrifying events of Mao's attempt to purify and idealize the country. Because of the myriad of false convictions, public denunciations, and unwarranted humiliation, it is here that the author portrays Communism in its worst and defective form. Throughout the memoir, Jung Chang recounts all the experiences from an impartial viewpoint, but it is implied that she disapproves of the effects Communism had on the country of China. Although she does not agree any more with Imperialism either, she strongly believes that the establishment of Communism was what impaired the population over many decades. To the Chinese population, the ideology behind Communism was perfect and ideal, but the way it was instated by Mao ultimately did not satisfy the needs of the suffering country.