Title

Trapped in Fate: Disposition of Women in a post-war Shanghai

Lead Author Major

International Relations, Asian Lang. & Studies: Chinese

Lead Author Status

Senior

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Jie Lu

Faculty Mentor Department

Dept of Modern Language/Literature

Abstract/Artist Statement

The Second Sino-Japanese war sent Shanghai through a decade-long whirlpool of corruption and confusion as the forced consolidation of Eastern and Western values collided in the “Paris of the East”. Contemporary Chinese author, Eileen Chang, experienced war and poverty-stricken Shanghai firsthand, and her stories are seen to accurately depict the goals and morals of Shanghainese people, especially women, in the 1930s through the 1940s. Her work, “Half a Lifelong Romance”, sheds light onto the extent of women’s subordinate position in a deeply patriarchal society. This paper analyzes Eileen Chang’s depiction of her characters and plot in “Half a Lifelong Romance”, evaluating and comparing the setting of the novel against history and her personal upbringing.

The paper dissects the realism in Chang’s work, revealing the mentality behind the actions of different women, whose lives during the early twentieth century were led by fear and desire, as they struggled to survive through materialism in a corrupt patriarchy. Additionally, this paper explores the “fate trap” for women at the time. Lacking work experience and education, her female characters are trapped in dysfunctional families, loveless marriages, societal expectations, and a traditional culture. This paper not only provides a comprehensive understanding in regard to Chang’s attitude towards love, family and society through her texts, but also a deeper understanding of what living in China as a woman was like during a time of war, oppression and traditions.

Location

University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave., Stockton, CA 95211

Start Date

24-4-2021 11:00 AM

End Date

24-4-2021 11:15 PM

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Apr 24th, 11:00 AM Apr 24th, 11:15 PM

Trapped in Fate: Disposition of Women in a post-war Shanghai

University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave., Stockton, CA 95211

The Second Sino-Japanese war sent Shanghai through a decade-long whirlpool of corruption and confusion as the forced consolidation of Eastern and Western values collided in the “Paris of the East”. Contemporary Chinese author, Eileen Chang, experienced war and poverty-stricken Shanghai firsthand, and her stories are seen to accurately depict the goals and morals of Shanghainese people, especially women, in the 1930s through the 1940s. Her work, “Half a Lifelong Romance”, sheds light onto the extent of women’s subordinate position in a deeply patriarchal society. This paper analyzes Eileen Chang’s depiction of her characters and plot in “Half a Lifelong Romance”, evaluating and comparing the setting of the novel against history and her personal upbringing.

The paper dissects the realism in Chang’s work, revealing the mentality behind the actions of different women, whose lives during the early twentieth century were led by fear and desire, as they struggled to survive through materialism in a corrupt patriarchy. Additionally, this paper explores the “fate trap” for women at the time. Lacking work experience and education, her female characters are trapped in dysfunctional families, loveless marriages, societal expectations, and a traditional culture. This paper not only provides a comprehensive understanding in regard to Chang’s attitude towards love, family and society through her texts, but also a deeper understanding of what living in China as a woman was like during a time of war, oppression and traditions.