The sun is hot and brilliant, and everything is steaming with heat. The tall buildings stand tall among the bright white clouds, and the sky is pale blue.
In this midsummer afternoon, I rode my bicycle and paraded on the bustling streets of the city. To be precise, it was an important traffic light intersection. The streets are clean without a trace of dust, and the large LED screen on the side of the intersection switches back and forth between the “New Era Huai’an Spirit” publicity pictures and the real estate advertisements on the gateway of the Yangtze River Delta. On the mound two to three hundred meters ahead, the trees spread wildly, spewing out the most primitive life tension. The wind flicked across the treetops, and there were a few birdsong and cicadas. Of course, the tide of traffic is indispensable. However, it is very regrettable that for me, who has lived in the old community for more than 20 years, these do not seem to make me feel the breath of a modern city. Many times, I like to use sound to identify the economic strength and civilization of a place, and to distinguish between cities and villages. Just like now, if it weren’t for the rumbling of the high-speed rail passing by, and a group of fashionable young people speaking Mandarin with an accent, I would have forgotten that I was in a modern city. Oh, don’t neglect, there is wind, yes, the wind in the city is mostly gentle and decent, like everybody’s lady, like an elegant gentleman, unlike the wind in the countryside, it presents a kind of wildness, like wild madness. Girl, like a spoiled bad boy, always has to make a little movement. No, the wind blowing over the treetops came gently and silently again, like a quiet, well-mannered city person.
I haven’t figured out when this personally formed judgment standard of mine started, and I also know that my judgment standard is biased, but I am keen to do this, perhaps because of my life experience. Right — I have not been to work, and once lived on the riverside of the Grand Canal. As long as I stand on the second floor of the platform, I can have a panoramic view of the beautiful scenery of the canal. The ships going north and south on the river will rush to the distance with my thoughts. At night, I often hear the sound of the cargo ship reminding to avoid and honking. I often regard this sound as a sign of civilization and prosperity. I always feel that this is modern. Because, in the memory of my teenager, in the night at my hometown far away from the canal, except for the barking of dogs, there is often death-like silence. I know that it is only due to occlusion and poverty.
That is, in that era, I was well versed in the hardships of my parents and the hard-won life. Only by studying and struggling can I change my destiny and have a different kind of scenery.
Yan Geling, a writer from the United States who was born in Shanghai, has created a series of reflections of immigrant life with his rich life experience, keen experience of foreign life and heterogeneous culture, and unique artistic expressions since he began literary creation in 1981. His works, such as “Over the Sea”, “The Landlady”, and “The Little Fisherman”, have attracted the attention of the Chinese literary circle.
Throughout Yan Geling’s novel creation, attention to, exploration and pursuit of human nature have always been the purpose of the writer’s novel creation. By reading Yan Geling’s novels, we can see the true human nature. In the novels such as “Fusang” and “The Ninth Widow”, the author has portrayed the complex human nature of the characters. Even in the short stories, she can dig out the richness of human nature through short pages.
1. The loss of human nature under pressure of life
”‘Abnormal love’ is a very sensitive literary theme, and Yan Geling has a lot of involvement in this. In a specific life situation in a foreign country, this emotional model can be understood as the abnormal change of human nature under pressure. A certain possibility is very worthy of attention and scrutiny.” This concept is reflected in Yan Geling’s short stories “Dating” and “Red Luoqun”.
The two novels are regarded as sisters because of the similarity of their themes. The heroine Wu Juan in “Dating” and the heroine Hai Yun in “Red Dress” marry the United States. It is not because of the love between men and women. On the contrary, they regard marriage as a transaction. Such transactions are for the sons who depend on them.
In “Dating”, an extraordinary sense of erotic desire is infiltrated into the mother-child relationship, and the reason for this awareness is precisely because of the environment in which Wu Juan and his son Xiaofeng are located. It is difficult for Wujuan and her son to adapt to the foreign environment. Wujuan feels that this is a ghost place. Naturally, she is full of infinite nostalgia for her hometown. The loneliness, strangeness and incompatibility of the foreign country deepens Wu Juan’s sense of dependence on her son. In the incompatible living environment in a foreign country, Wu Juan’s life pressure is obvious, but under this pressure, she lowers her dignity for her son Xiaofeng, just as Wu Juan herself said to marry him. It’s all for the future of his son. In Wu Juan’s view, this marriage is just a deal.
And the heroine Haiyun in “Red Luoqun” also regards marriage as a transaction. In the real life environment, Haiyun feels strange and lonely, but because her “unlearned and hopeless” son, the master, can be less conspicuous among relatives, she gave up her personal dignity and succumbed to this deal. When he was thirty-seven years old, he traveled across the ocean to marry 72-year-old Mr. Zhou. Haiyun abandoned his hometown, relatives, friends, and his dignity. In a foreign country, facing an unfamiliar cultural environment, the heroine is confined to a narrow life circle. For example, Haiyun can only cook in the castle and be a wife in the form of a job as a nanny, and she has a real desire in her heart. But unable to project into this utilitarian marriage, he unconsciously incorporates his son into his emotional world, making him his subconscious partner. As a result, the feelings of mother and child who depend on each other are exaggerated by this environment. The ending of the story is that Haiyun still lives in Mr. Zhou’s closed castle. This castle is a small environment in the big environment of a foreign country. This is a closed castle. It closes young hope and normal desires. Humanity twists and twists between the castles, stretches with mutated tentacles, and is finally strangled. .
”Dating” and “Red Luo Skirt” are the themes of writers describing women living in foreign land. People are the most perceptive when they are under the fence, just like Daiyu’s sojourn in Jia’s house is more sentimental. “Most of the themes and motives of overseas Chinese creation come from the attachment of the Orientals in the Western context to their own ancient civilization and traditions and the pain that penetrates into their bones. The advantages and strengths of Western civilization both admire and envy them, but also make them uneasy. Uncomfortable. In reality, the former overwhelms the latter, while psychologically, the latter overwhelms the former. This is an embarrassing situation that both new and old immigrants cannot get rid of, and Yan Geling is no exception. As a naturally sensitive novelist, her feelings may be possible. It’s more intense.” It is precisely to grasp this point that Yan Geling uses literature to reveal human nature, showing the weakest, most secretive, least-known but most authentic aspect of human nature in the immigration environment, thus showing readers A picture of the pain and helplessness and coldness and silence of the immigrant society. Therefore, reading Yan Geling’s works always makes readers feel a kind of compassion, and this kind of compassion goes along with Yan Geling’s works all the way. The heroines in the similar stories of “Dating” and “Red Luo Skirt” have roughly the same dilemma. Forced by real life, in order to pursue a better life, they left their familiar homeland and came to a strange foreign country. Unfamiliar languages, cultures, environments, and races have prevented them from truly integrating into life in a foreign land. Between the unfamiliar foreign land and the familiar homeland, they feel at a loss, lonely, and feel nowhere to belong. Under this kind of sentiment, the deep love for the son makes the love between mother and son take on a different nature in a foreign country.
Second, the human choice under the pressure of life
if five Haiyun Juan and in the face of the pressure of life, human nature is distorted, then another short story in Yan Geling “brown hair”, the hero faced with the choice of the humanity He maintained his dignity.
In “Sorrel Hair”, the heroine “I” attracts the attention of a “sorrel hair” because of her beautiful appearance. Through this encounter, “sorrel hair” brought “me” 15 dollars an hour “the beauty of the fantasy”. Because “I” was forced by the life of studying abroad, I was also willing to accept such beautiful things-for ” A group of foreign friends with “sorrel hair” are models. It is during this experience that misunderstandings, prejudices and even ugliness of Westerners towards the Chinese are inadvertently revealed in these details. The words and actions of these Westerners trample on everything. The dignity of a Chinese has also brought harm to “I”, but “I” has no ability to ridicule the self-esteem of the injured nation. Although “I” had to face the very embarrassing life of studying abroad, when the gallery owner suggested “I” to be a nude model, “I” decided to quit the job and gave up more than “The Fantastic Night” A generous reward, and “I” did this just to retain my dignity.
Westerners have a remote and unfamiliar impression of China. They have a sense of curiosity for Chinese people that is similar to being superior, indifferent, and disrespectful to pets. And “I” is the Chinese antique that this “sorrel-haired” western male surprise hunted and was appreciated. Westerners and “I” are the relationship between enjoying and being appreciated. This relationship does not include the respect factor inherent in human nature, so “I” decided to leave “sorrel hair”. He is prejudiced against the Chinese, and his attitude of looking down on the savior and his limited charity and respect make “I” unacceptable. “I” is even more looking forward to the day when I truly understand the language of the cry, that is, the moment of equal communication between the East and the West.
In the article, the protagonist chooses to maintain his dignity in the face of heavy material life pressure, but sometimes he faces the pressure of public opinion from the outside, the pressure of the moral category, and the conflict between his own desires and ethics. , What choice will people make? The struggle of human nature in this situation is also involved in Yan Geling’s writing, such as “The Robber Charlie and Me”.
”Charlie the Robber and Me” tells an emotional story between “I” and Charlie the Robber. “I”-a woman in her 30s, life is rational and normal, but after seeing the robber Charlie, after witnessing his robbery again and again, “I” was attracted to him again and again. “I” clearly knows that he is a robber. “I” should report him and not allow him to harm more people. But “I” did not do so. “I” is under a moral pressure. , And the struggle of human nature between beauty and ugliness is also manifested at this moment.
In this novel, we see that beauty and elegance and vice quirks, violent robbery and love flirting, frank shamelessness and charming atmosphere are all wonderfully and weirdly mixed together. The entanglement and wandering between “I” between the robber Charlie and the beautiful young Charlie made people see that the human heart is really complicated and deep, and how many of them we don’t want to face or see clearly!
3. Goodness and Beauty in Human Nature
”Which is more important between the dignity of life and the pressure of life.” Yan Geling wrote “Dating”, “Red Dress”, “Sorrel Hair”, “Robber Charlie and Me”, “Girl Xiaoyu”, etc. The main conflict in the work. The characters in the works are the most common representatives under the influence of Eastern civilization. “Their moral concepts, value standards, psychological feelings and behaviors all exude a strong oriental atmosphere, and this atmosphere is presented in a heterogeneous cultural environment. The most simple and authentic state, but it has to withstand the harshest challenges and tests of a heterogeneous civilization.” Wujuan, Haiyun, and “I” each have their own pains, their own misfortunes, and their own pressures. “Which is the most important of the dignity of life and the pressure of life?” This question lingers on them. Through their choices, we have seen the complexity and change of human nature. They may discard or save the dignity of life in their respective unfortunate circumstances. Or lose or present the most simple and authentic state under the temper of Eastern culture, but Xiao Yu has carried forward this Eastern cultural morality.
”Girl Little Fishing” is one of Yan Geling’s masterpieces. It has been adapted into a movie and won many awards including the Best Screenplay Award. The story of Xiaoyu may be the same as the stories of other girls who emigrated abroad, but the beauty of human nature embodied in Xiaoyu is not what other people have. Because of her boyfriend Jiang Wei’s relationship, Xiao Yu also came to the United States. In order to obtain an official identity, the 22-year-old Xiao Yu married an old Italian whose belly was like a terraced rice paddy under the arrangement of her boyfriend Jiang Wei. , Xiao Yu carried the dirty deal between the two men with the weak shoulders of a woman, and also took on the heavy pressure from life.
From the reader’s point of view, Xiao Yu was the biggest victim of the whole incident, but she was able to resist the sadness and grievance in her heart and leave the opportunity to vent to others. This kindness and tolerance are a manifestation of the beauty of her human nature. She exchanged her dignity from the eyes of others with a peaceful and simple attitude, and at the same time, she potentially influenced the old Italian man with her own virtues, inspiring the good side of other people’s nature. He went from being a rascal and messing around to later personally guarding the door to open the door light for Xiaoyu, and once even kissed Xiaoyu on the forehead like an elder, and then the old man used his poor body bones to become a small fishing province. The next train pass. The old man also began to make money on his own.
The scene of the old man chasing banknotes on a rainy day is sad, but also gratifying. It is his transformation from an idle rogue to a self-reliant and useful person. It is the embodiment of the old man’s own value. At this moment, the beauty of human nature is sublimated. The gradual transformation of the old man in front of Xiao Yu, who possesses oriental virtues, shows that in his subconscious there is also the pursuit of goodness and the desire for a better and happy life.
Xiaoyu is like a Virgin at this time. It is the broadness of Xiaoyu’s heart that tolerates a marriage that hides dirt and scumbags, and in turn makes his heart truly rich. In Xiao Yu’s body, the author awakens the great and eternal motherhood that has been neglected for a long time, and leads the simplest beauty of human nature to the eternal state in a nasty and severe situation.
In “Girl Xiaoyu”, Xiaoyu is a weak person in life. In terms of social status, money and education, Xiaoyu is in a weak position, but she highlights her own value with her kindness and tolerance. The old Italian man is also a weak person in life, also without money and status, but under the infection of Xiao Yu, the incarnation of kindness, he began to pursue the truth, goodness, and beauty of human nature. The reason why this work is widely loved by readers is that it reflects the pure and sincere personality of the protagonist and the simple emotions of perfection and beauty, and it allows readers to see the beauty and goodness in people’s hearts. To the essence of traditional cultural virtues, and this virtue does not distinguish between regions, national boundaries, and races, it belongs to all mankind.
From the above discussion, we can see that “human nature” has always been the quintessence of Yan Geling’s novel creation. Whether Wu Juan and Haiyun lost their humanity and discarded their dignity in a foreign country, or “I” faced the slander and vilification of China and Chinese people represented by “sorrel hair” by Westerners, the last trace of self-esteem was still The entanglement and wandering of right and wrong in the “I”, as well as the brilliance of humanity embodied in Xiao Yu, etc., all show Yan Geling’s excavation of the humanity level of the characters. Yan Geling himself once said: “No one can figure out how many unknown qualities are contained in one’s personality-secret qualities. It will not wake up until a certain environment, and it will appear on the surface of human behavior. It is because of human beings. There will be endless unexpected behaviors in extraordinary environments, and all behaviors reflect the deepest invisible secrets of the personality.” Yan Geling put Wujuan, Haiyun, “I” and Xiaoyu in a specific environment. In these specific environments, give them ample performance space. Therefore, through these vivid lives in her works, we can observe the joy, pain and misfortune of human and individual lives in modern society. Yan Geling’s works can perfectly combine the various poses of all living beings with the shaping of human nature, and express the universality and profoundness of human nature through a personal figure in his pen.