The Boxer Rebellion

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Published after Fu Lin’s Stones in the Sea, a short novel that demonstrates the tragedy of a young couple caused by “family despotism” in the arranged marriage system, Wu Jianren’s The Sea of Regret is a tragic love novel about a star-crossed couple, Bohe and Dihua. The scene is set in the time when China was experiencing unprecedented social turmoil during the late 19th century. The Boxer Rebellion acts as the story’s destabilizing force that not only represents rapid social change, but also calls into question presumptions about Chinese traditions, class stratifications, and gender roles. This is demonstrated through the characterizations and behaviors of Bohe and Dihua. Bohe symbolizes the dangers of sacrificing one’s values in pursuit of modernity; he shows no concern for Dihua, casting her…show more content…
Dihua represents the Confucian values when faced with the breakdown of the traditional order and the advent of new social realities. Although a seemingly exemplary Confucian female role model, Dihua exaggerates the Confucian morality and behavior. She tries to abide by the ancients’ old methods and soon realizes that they no longer work. For instance, she cuts off a piece of her own arm to be used for medicinal cure for her mother (177). However, her mother’s condition does not improve and she eventually dies. This scene clearly represents Dihua’s filial qualities. She later blames herself for Bohe’s health conditions and still tries to marry him even though he is an opium addict on his death bed (195). Even after the deaths of her mother and Bohe, she blames herself for these situations and then joins a Buddhist nunnery. Dihua’s physical and emotional restraint reveals the burden placed on women to preserve morality in every situation without consideration of her personal

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