One doesn’t need much context clues to figure out what these songs are about. Consequently, this level of extreme integration has caused Chinese society to value family as second-priority to this pursuit of Socialist. However, in this setting where the family isn’t that well off, we learn that Heng and his siblings were spoiled by their paternal and maternal grandmothers. In regards to Mao Zedong, the people of China are led to believe that Mao was in some sort of a deity, a god that affected everyone’s lives.
Simultaneously, he was considered as a national father of everyone in Communist China. The author demonstrates this when recalling the sweet of relief he felt when he heard “that Chairman Mao had forgiven” him, and through writing exercises that required them to repeatedly practice writing, “Chairman Mao is our Great Saving Star,” and “We are all Chairman Mao’s good little children. ” To many outside nations, including Americans, this seems like a way of brainwashing the people, especially at such an early age.
However, we already know that the leaders of the Communist Party have no such fatherly intentions for their “children”. The “Hundred Flowers Movement,” a movement that encouraged China’s peoples to openly express their voices and opinions, turns out to be a trap set to identify any Rightists in the midst of people. Trying to be helpful, Heng’s mother is accused of being a Rightist and is sent to a labor camp to “reform” her. We observe this clash of traditional Confucian value in family with the political allegiance to the Communist movement in Heng’s father, even to the oint where he denounces his own wife. The loyalty to China’s communist Party over family runs deep within its people. Upon hearing that their own father is accused of being a Capitalist and anti-Party, Liang Heng and his siblings become enraged at their own father; in other words, the children honored the communist Party more than they honored their own father, which is ironic to Liang Shang, since he abandoned his wife for the Party.
In addition to the Hundred Flowers Movement, Liang Heng’s life took another major turn of events with the initiation of “The Great Leap Forward,” Mao Zedong’s attempt to transform China from an agrarian economy into a more modernized Communist society via rapid industrialization and collective farming. Naturally, private farming would become prohibited and even accused as an act of rebellion against the revolution. However, the Great Leap Forward was a massive failure with millions of people dying from starvation. Liang Heng’s family was no exception, and had to accommodate for these times.
The majority of this narrative takes place during the Cultural Revolution, movement that resulted from the failure of the Great Leap Forward. The main goal of the Revolution was to shift “old,” traditional, Capitalist China into the “new,” communist China to secure Mao Zedong’s position in power. Like his other previous endeavors, we see that the Cultural Revolution brought with it confusion and chaos to the people, particularly having to do with the change in names of everything around them from roads to stores to public parks. Liang’s friends have even abandoned their old names to adopt newer “revolutionary” names.
Still, holding such high regards to their Chairman Mao and failing to see flaws in his methods, our narrator strives to one day carry his own Red Guard uniform, specifically upon seeing his older sister wearing her own uniform. Ironically, his own home is later raided by these Red Guards because of his family’s “political” history – his mother’s relatives have moved to Taiwan, she herself is branded as a Rightist, his father is a writer, or “stinking intellectual. ” These circumstances make it difficult for Liang Heng socially, and he is constantly persecuted and ridiculed by the rest of society because of it.