How do texts such as Liao Yiwu’s “The Migrant Worker” and Mo Yan’s “White Dog and the Swings” represent the gap between the countryside and the city, migration, and social problems caused by it?
From these two texts, there are many differences between the city and the countryside. Here in the countryside people work hard and they do not give a lot of attention to their clothes as the people in the city who pay close attention to their clothes and keeping up with the latest fashion, ‘but people kept giving me looks of contempt due to my blue jeans’ (Yan 54). In the village foreigners are not trusted and are not really treated well. There is also widespread poverty in the villages as compared to the city. Due to the poverty in the villages many men seek work in the cities leaving their families behind.
The migrant workers are paid little wages and they work a lot. Many do not have proper housing and they resort to sleeping in the streets, ‘I lived in the streets when I first came to the city’ (Yiwu 311); those with housing it are usually in crowded places. Other vices develop like prostitution due to this migration and even petty crimes, ‘women will come out in the evening and look for clients’ (Yiwu 313).
The Relationship between Food and Sex
Food and sex are seen as basic needs for survival in these times. Food is needed for the existence of the people. Sex is taken as a basic necessity. We see one of the characters in the text going on a three day seclusion period to feed his desire for sex, “For three days and nights, Liu and Wu imprisoned themselves to satisfy their most primitive desires’ (Lianke 128). There was widespread poverty due to the tyrannical government and food was scarce and therefore it was a necessity that could not be avoided. From Dog Shit Food we quote that ‘a woman should be skilled in bed as she is good in the fields’ (45).
The life in the Mao era was that lived with fear. It is seen in the text, Serve the People where any articles related to Mao are revered and when his statue is broken, the commander is paralyzed with fear as he would be punished, ‘he stood white-faced – Wu Dawang understood the gravity of the situation’ (Lianke 133). The people during this time were oppressed and they were tired of it.
Yan, Lianke, and Julia Lovell. Serve the People!, 2007. Internet resource.
Hsia, Chih-tsing. A history of modern Chinese fiction. Indiana University Press, 1999.