Some people believe that each step steps on the way of life is predetermined through the beginning to the end, and people are powerless to resist it. The main character who is the narrator of the short novel, “A Woman Like Me” by Xi Xi, is trying to convey to us the same concept which is called the fate. She has been an orphan since she was very young, and she and her brother were raised by her Aunt Yifen. Her aunt has so much pressure that she pays less attention on their education, so when the narrator grows up, she lets her inherit their familial skill which is making up for dead. All of these elements lead her life into a miserable fate. From the psychological description of herself, I found that in the depth of her heart, she actually doesn’t want to surrender to her fate, but wants to have friendship and love. In my opinion, our life, whatever love or death, are seem arranged by fate, but we can try our best to alter it and change it. As in the story, although the narrator considers that all the things happened in her life is arranged by fate and she is “totally powerless to resist Fate” (152), I think most of the misfortunes happened in her life are root in her timidity.
The reasons that makes her lacks of courage are her self-abased and doesn’t want to violate her family’s custom. In my opinion, our fate is in our own hand. When she faces the point of transition of fate, she doesn’t have enough courage to change her own fate because of her self-abased, but in the depth of her heart, she is really want to change her destiny. In story she describes herself, “I’m a person who has no concept of self-protection, and my words and deeds will always conspire to make me a laughing stock in the eyes of others” (152). Her character make people around her can’t accept her and laugh at her. It makes her who originally is self-abased because of low education become more self-abased. Her despaired emotion is expressed many times in the story, “A woman like me is actually unsuitable for any man’s love” (152).
The word, “actually”, was said with her realistic helpless. She has no confidence to fall in love with a man. She thinks her fate is decided that she can do nothing for it. However, when the narrator who originally surrenders to the fate sees the boy suicide for love, she unexpectedly feels shame of him and refuses to make up for him. She thinks that “his had been act of extreme weakness: … I should have nothing to do with anyone who lacked the courage to resist the forces of fate.” (157) Her view of other’s fate reflect the real idea in her depth heart. When she face the situation of other people, she is very clear that people should have courage to resist the force of fate. As a Chinese proverb said: “The spectators understand the chess game better than the players.” When she faces that boy, she is feels humiliating with his weakness. We can find her aspire and insist of love. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the courage to insist her own love. Thus, it is her self-abased make her yell of fate can only leave in the depth of her heart and can’t let it into action. Another reason that makes her hesitates on the edge of fighting to change her fate is she asserted Chinese traditional ideology by family.
In one hand, she wants to control her life, but on the other hand some traditional ideas are still leave in her mind. At that time in Hong Kong, because of the Colonization of Britain, many people were influenced by the concept of western culture which was that people could control their life and changed their fate by themselves, but the concept of her family was quite different. The narrator’s family is from the main land of China. Her father and her aunt are all cosmeticians that make up for dead which is the skill that handed down from their ancestors, so in the traditional concept, it must have a person in the family to inherit this skill and her Aunt Yifen choose her as the successor. However, the society also influences her so much. She describes the society as a “greed-consumed, dog-eat-dog world” (154). From how she describes the society, we can find out most people in that society are all struggling to survive in that competitive world.
They don’t follow the fate but create and change it by themselves. Under the influence of the surrounding, she once has thought about many other works she can do, such as “work as saleswoman in a shop, or sell bakery products, or even be a maid in someone’s home” (160), but finally, she still afraid of to compete with others in that cruel society and follow her fate that decided by her family. On the contrary, I don’t believe that fate is not changeable. I think the destiny is in my hand. In the story, the narrator is so weak that she predicts her fate is predetermined and yields to her fate. She and her Aunt Yifen have the same occupation, and she has already seen her aunt’s miserable fate, so she pessimistically thinks that her “fate and Aunt Yifen’s are one and same.” (159) She is still young and nobody know what will happen in the future, but she give up at first.
I believe that opportunities are for the people who are prepared. If she gives up trying and working hard, she won’t grasp the opportunity to change her fate, even the opportunity has coming. As we know that America is country that full of opportunities for people who work hard to change their fate. That is the reason I came to study in America. As an international student whose first language isn’t English is real tough to success in academic. However, like most of other international students, I know that I need to keep studying hard and never stop.
Once I hesitate, I will fall behind of others because everyone keeps fighting and struggling in this competitive society. Therefore, I believe that fate is in my own hand. In conclusion, I really feel regressive for her. If she cares less about other’s view of her, she will have courage to save her love; if she put away her traditional idea, she will have courage to find a new job; if she becomes more confidence, she will against her miserable fate and start a new life. To me, I will have the courage. Stand up from where I fall down and keep working hard, I believe my fate will be different.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 January 2017
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