Ha Jin – The Bridegroom Essay

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Ha Jin – The Bridegroom
Described as utopian in nature, the Chinese culture is often in pursuit for the perfect individual, a harmonious and structured society where the citizens as a whole create the ideal culture. In a collection of short stories entitled The Bridegroom, author Ha Jin documents this aspect of reality in homeland China. Primarily for the purposes of instruction and satirical verse, Ha Jin, shows how people are trying to find themselves in a society that focuses on the ‘whole’ of the country rather than the individual. He is able to interconnect this theme of individualism through four major stories in the book while presenting ‘Chineseness’ or satire of fictional verse as a way to focus on the changes throughout China
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To the Chinese society, “Homosexuality originated in western capitalism and Bourgeois lifestyle. According to [our] law, it’s dealt with as a kind of hooliganism” (96). In this story, Baowen was caught in a club called “Men’s World” that was a type of salon that only admitted men. He was subsequently arrested and sent to a mental hospital to cure his supposed illness instead of serving a jail sentence. While in the mental hospital, Ha Jin structures the story around Baowen’s accounts of electro-shock therapy as a way to stop homosexual acts and maintain harmony and uniformity amongst the Chinese citizens. Ha Jin is specific about the torture when he mentions how “Baowen was noiseless in the electrified water, with his eyes shut and his head resting on a black rubber pad at the end of the tub. He looked fine, rather relaxed … Then the nurse gave him more electricity” (106). Unfortunately, Haung repeated the crime of homosexual acts and was subsequently sent to prison. Ha Jin uses this brutal story to show how the government intends to mold its citizens into a ‘family unit’ or community. For the government, there is an image, or structure in which an individual is to conform to so that the community as a whole is structured. The irony is that there is no real mention or word for individualism although it is apparent that the oppressive social values