The Story of the Stone Essay

Submitted By barisam
Words: 441
Pages: 2

A key theme that is further drawn upon at the end of volume 2 of the novel is the peasant/landlord relation. It is touched on less in the novel, because the most common relationships described in the text are between masters and servants, as well as elders and youth. Though the business of the family is holding land, we read of this interaction between their business and their renters more rarely. Yet, when an outsider comes to pay their taels to the family, we most often have an opportunity to see the struggles of the peasant class. For this reason, I’d like to describe the irony behind a passage located early in chapter 53. The purpose of collecting money from their renters in this chapter is to carry out their New Year’s sacrifice. Cousin Zhen describes to young You-shi:
“‘apart from one or two great families like ours who don’t really need this money, there are many, many families of poor hereditary officials who do actually depend on it for their ancestral sacrifices and who wouldn’t be able to celebrate New Year properly without it. So you see it really was extraordinarily benevolent and far-seeing of the dynasty to institute this annual bounty’ (H53.558).”
This description supremely justifies this tradition of annual sacrifice from the perspective of the landlords/upper class. Immediately following this description, one of his renters comes to pay his debt to the family. When the old-aged renter comes up short on his rent, Cousin Zhen treats the man with verbal abuse. Although no threats were made by Cousin Zhen, largely he embarrasses the old man for not coming with the appropriate amount of rent he owes the…