Ambivalence About the Future

Korean writer Hwang Sun-won and Chinese writers Lu Xun and Ding Ling portray characters that express ambivalence about the future. Chuang-sheng, Zhenzhen and Pak Hun have hidden feelings of uncertainty regarding the present and constant nostalgia for their past. They seem to create distractions to re-direct their attention away from the source of their anxieties, for example, both Chuag-sheng and Pak Hun fears the loss of openness to life and growth while Zhenzhen fears her loss of self and the resistance she faces to becoming her own self.

In “Regret for the Past”, Chuang Sheng’s ambivalence about the future is shown through Lu Xun’s interpretation of the socio-economic plight of a couple trying to live a new life in a world of twentieth century capitalism, characterized by male domination, exploitation and abuse. Comparatively, Chuang Sheng is the character that feels most ambivalent about his future when compared to the extent to which both Zhenzhen and Pak Hun feel ambivalent about their own lives to come. For Chuang Sheng, preoccupations begin as soon as he finds out about his discharge. “First we gazed at each other in silence, then started discussing what to do. Finally we decided to live as economically as possible on the money we had (pp 110-111). The way Tzu-Chun reacted to the problems at the time made Chuang Sheng more hesitant about the future. Things were changing, as seen in Lu Xun’s description of Tzu-Chun as a fearless woman that had never been into cooking as was expected of most women at the time. Tzu-Chun grew weaker and Chuang Sheng’s life changes while his old existing self is contested by a new life next to Tzu Chun. From knowing that “she loved me so truly and passionately” (p. 106), to thinking of how to tell her that he was no longer in love with her, to recalling how conscious they were of one another’s fortitude and strength, and “able to see new hope growing from this fresh beginning” (p. 111). Even though Chuang Sheng regrets his...
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