With the Cricket fighting -- I knew we had gambling in today's world and standards; however, I had no idea that they had it back then, albeit it was more of a bet saying: "Hey man, I bet my cricket can beat yours". But still, a bet is a bet. And from what I can remember, the man Hong challenged [and beat], was rich (for lack of a better name). Not sure if that is the name to call him, but he was well known and had "power". Or maybe he came off as so cause he was a land owner thus making him better than the rest. So at the time money was power, and power was fear. Comparable to Slave and landowners a 100+ years ago.
Adding on to what Brian was saying, what were the rules and guidelines that went along with cricket fighting? I mean I know that when you go to a casino you need to show your ID and etc., but were there special licenses you needed for cricket fighting? Were the officials involved? Was it legal? I would even compare this to now- and -day dog fighting! Could cricket fighting get people into financial trouble like Lao Lu did with his family? By the way, we also knew there was gambling back then because Lao Lu gambled and drank away his family name.
Thank you for letting me add on, Brian
Originating in the Tang Dynasty, cricket fighting was a blood sport that was considered a popular pass time in China. The idea of cricket fighting does sound kind of strange but once you think about it, it is no different than bullfighting or any other animal fighting sport. However, I read online that unlike other blood sports like bullfighting, cricket fighting will rarely cause injuries to the animal.
Adding on to what Noraan said, cricket fighting seemed very strange at first. If Cricket fighting rarely caused injuries to the animal, then how come in the book the crickets got injured. it said that in the crickets were chewing off the back legs and both of Lao Hongs crickets died.
How did they train their crickets to fight? Nowadays, when I see crickets they are so small and look incapable of defending themselves with other insects and animals. I mean did the crickets have a fighting instinct back in the day? What if a cricket is just like nope im not gonna fight? What would they do then? Also, wouldn't it be hard to make money off of crickets. There might be so much of them, and it would be common for at least one person in a household would own at least own a cricket. Even if the cricket is injured there would be no way to fix them because they are so small.
One thing that I thought was a bit odd was how practicality was not important. Chen would have a better life for knowing how to memorize a bunch of sayings whereas Hong would be a farmer, although he knows more about the real world than Chen. Knowing basic math was not that important to be a high officia.l People today at least try to be logical. Another thing that I found weird was how people were afraid of the inventor. I think they called him the devil. How did China progress if the people didn't value new ideas and things that actually make a difference?
I feel it puts light on the saying "book smart, but not street smart" (or vice versa). I think the chinese could have been afraid to try something new, like shy people. Maybe they thought that it would ruin the way things in their life are right now.
In response to the question that you posed, I remember from one of Mr. Crossen's lectures, that he said for a long time--- I want to say from the golden ages to about 1500-- China was the top dog of inventing and was thriving. But after other nations started to catch up with China's advancments, they started to become less and less important and stayed introverted. For China, time kind of stood still for a while and they faded into the shadows and other nations started to progress a lot more and faster. The reason they stayed so ignorant to change is probably a fear of change , but the world may never know....
I hope this answered your question:)
Adding on to Sarika’s comment, the inventor was referred to as a “devil” because the Chinese people were afraid of new ideas. If there was a new idea it could result in change, and could change their whole way of life (government, economy, etc.). In an ancient culture like China, change was a bad thing.
One thing that I noticed was how completely different the two brothers are throughout the novel. Usually, people from the same family have the same views on most aspects of life. Lao Chen was definitely a Confucian man; on the other hand, Lao Hong had more of a Buddhist outlook. Also, Lao Chen was more giving and kind while Hong was harsher. I understand that they're two different people and they shouldn't agree on everything, but these two boys had a completely different set of morals (something most siblings have in common). Their journey definitely changed them as people too. Lao Chen became more independent and strong willed, while Lao Hong became more obedient and respectful (especially to the white lotus). Chen and Hong grew as people while on their journey, but it always seemed strange to see how different they were to start.
Going along with that I thought that it was very interesting that when Hong wouldn't give his father his winnings, Chen was very offended, since Hong didn't follow Confucius's saying of respecting and giving to parents. It just shows the different mindsets of Chen and Hong--especially their views on how they shall treat their elders.
I found this interesting as well. I saw that Hong's beliefs are risky, for he is going against what is thought to be right. For example, he is disrespecting authority and his father and his family's name when he won't give his money winnings to his father. But, I like how Hong is sticking up for himself, and whether others know it or not it is the better or more right thing to do. Instead of giving it to his father so he can waste it on gambling and beer he's giving it to his brother, Chen, to help him and his future. I like how Hong thinks differently and has a differnet perspective on things, however it may get him in trouble in the long run.
It was interesting that Chen wanted to give the money to his father because Confucius taught to respect your parents, whereas their older sister only cared about giving the money because of her reputation. Hong, I believe, only gave his father money in the end because his brother and sister were pressuring him to. He didn't do it because of morals or the fear of being judged. Clearly, the two brothers as well as their sister had totally different morals and different intentions behind giving the money.
I agree with the reason of why Chen wanted to give money to his father but I also think its because he doesn't have to deal with his father as much as Hong and their sister does. In the beginning of the book he was just coming home from a journey so it shows that he doesn't have to spend as much time with his father as the others. Their sister and Hong have to deal with their father everyday. Adding on to what you said about their sister, I also think she said that because she knows that her brothers are going to eventually leave and she'll be the only one left with their father.
Adding on to the idea that Lao hong and Lao chen are completely different, to me is very true. Lao Chen is a very Confucian man. In the beginning pages of the book it mentions that Lao Chen does not exercise because in Confucian teachings it says that it could be harmful to the body. It seemed to me that when Lao Chen told that to his brother, he laughed. Another example was when Lao Hong got the money from the cricket fight. He did not want to give any of the money to his father. When Lao Chen heard that he almost insisted that Lao Hong give their father some money because in Confucian teachings it mentions that honoring and respecting your parents is very important. it is clear though that throughout the book they both change in there own way. i just found it interesting how completely different the two brothers are.
Although I agree with how different the two brothers were towards the beginning of the novel, I felt as if they began to learn each other’s ways and move towards an understanding of one another near the end. At the beginning, Hong wasn’t very interested in schooling and disregarded almost any quote or philosophical piece of advice his brother Chen had to offer. Chen, on the other hand, was an amazing student and spent most of his time either reading or studying. He could recite hundreds if not thousands of poems, quotes, and characters the Chinese language had to offer. He knew his history well, but didn’t have as much of an understanding of the outside world as his younger brother Hong did. However, as the novel continued and the two brothers experienced the long, painful journey together throughout China, they started to appreciate, respect, and value each other’s ways. An example of this is displayed in the scene where Hong and Chen met the two dying women who were in danger of being killed by two men in a village destroyed by plague. Although Chen had been considered as the weaker and nicer of the two brothers, they both had the same idea in mind: kill the two men that harmed the sick and dying women. This was a crucial scene in understanding that the two brothers were not only different, but also similar because they both had the same idea of action in mind. The journey also changed the brothers approaches towards life, which caused them to appreciate and become more like their other sibling. As time went on, Hong began remembering and reciting quotes and poems that he had heard from Chen and began applying them to certain moments and situations. Chen, on the other hand, began to get more of a grip of life outside the world of books. This mentality is exhibited towards the end of the novel where Chen wanted to write his final essay with something including what he had experienced in life and throughout his journey, rather than what he remembered word for word out of a book. So, although the brothers seem every different, they are also alike in that they share similar practices, outlooks, and approaches towards life.
the book really clarified how big of a problem piracy was in china at the time, like in south china a lot of the coast was under either direct pirate control or the influence of the pirates to the point that direct military action was necessary to kick them out. It also showed how the Chinese pirates made it seem like the Japanese were the majority of pirates (when they weren't) so that they could get away more often. this is in contrast to the textbook, which said that Japanese pirates ravaged the Chinese coast.
Adding on to what Kevin said, I agree with your points but it only started talking about piracy towards the middle/end of the book. I think a lot of people that weren't around the coastal areas there didn't know about the piracy taking place. Some people even on the coast said that the whole piracy thing was a myth and then it turned out that it wasn't.
Adding on to Kevin's comment:
I think the Chinesegovernent knew that their were Chinese pirates and Japanese pirates, but blaming eveyrthing on the Japanese (and handling it) made the government look like they cared to the Chinese citizens when they might not have. It also shows that propoganda existed even back then.
Adding to both Kevin and Adam's points, I believe the Chinese made it seem like it was mostly the Japanese who committed piracy because, as we know from studying China, they were a very proud people and liked to believe that everything Chinese was the best way to do things. Which is why they never really relied on other countries and wanted to make Japan seem guilty instead of its own people.
What I found very interesting was how Master Fei Qun looked down on Chen, yet he uses him to deliver a letter and gives him the recognition he needs to take the district examination. It looks like Master Fei Qun believes in the "Flowering Talent" and may be showing jealousy towards him. It reminds me of when adults look down on children, but deep down have compassion for them, as they could be a very successful person in life.
I personally think that by lying for Chen about his father, Master Fei Qun was not acting out of compassion. Instead, he lied as a way to get back at the government because of an old grudge he had from not being able to pass the examinations he took long ago. His attitude to Chen, like Brianna mentioned, was jealously of Chen's ability to easily retain knowledge.
Adding on to what Julia said I believe that not only did Chen's teacher write that Chen's family was without flaw out of his own jealousy and as a dig at the officials who had failed him at the provincial exam but also to pay respects to Chen's uncle, who he considered a friend as he also had failed with him at provincials, and also to Chen's deceased mother whom he believed was a great scholar
I noticed a couple things throughout "The Examination." First, I noticed throughout the book that people in their immediate family have the same first name. Some examples used through the book are: Lao Lu, the father; Lao Chen, two brother; Finally, Lao Hong, three brother. Second, I noticed that rich people got off so easy with the examination. With the bribes, there was no need to know any content! The average person stood little chance of ever passing even if there knowledge was substantially more than the other richer persons. My question is, how did the government get so corrupt?
To answer your first question, I looked it up on the internet. The last name goes first, then the first name. To me, it shows how important family was: family before yourself. As for your second question, I think it got corrupt because people need money to survive and some people are just plain greedy. The more money they have, a better life they could lead. Not everyone back then was living purely on Confucian ideals. Even now, we hear stories of people being bribed so shady things can continue to go on
I feel like whether the government is corrupt or not, money will always be a major driving factor for most people, both then and now. Not everyone that wanted to pass the examination was smart enough to do as well as Chen did, thus leading them to using money in their favor and giving bribes. Those that came from richer families would be spoiled, I would imagine. So life never gave them a reason to have logic or knowledge of any kind, leaving money to be their only choice.
the chinese dynasties all had corruption, and it was the reason that new ones came up: if a dynasty became too corrupt to the point that large parts of china were starving, then the people overthrew that dynasty with the mandate of heaven and the most influential leader of the rebellion started a new dynasty. however, after that the new dynasty becomes corrupt after the head of it dies since the next emperors didnt fight against corruption like the first. then the dynasty gets too corrupt and the cycle starts all over again.
Oke, so the most surprising part to me in The Examination was actually not really a consistent theme throughout the book. It is actually the common knowledge about females not being considered an important part of society in China-- I know we covered this in class, so I wasn't surprised to see the mentioning of bound feet, or the lack of women Chen and Hong come across on their voyage. Rather, I was surprised by the infrequent, yet noticeable, mentions of women. For example, Chen commonly worries about his female companion back in their village. This is quite a bit of contrast considering she is the one who was mentioned having bound feet. The surprising part of this to me was that despite being considered not important enough to work or really do anything besides sitting around and looking pretty, Chen still had feelings for her. She was considered an object, which is usually something without any emotional attachment, yet there it is, Chen's completely stated feelings. I guess my main question is, was this common? Did fathers restrain their daughters from things without empathy, or was it with emotion? If there was emotional attachment, was it rare?
Was this common? Sure was. Almost all other empires, cities, dictatorships etc after this period didn't respect women. Few exceptions were made with respectable husbands and an empire such as sparta, but for the most part, women were at the absolute low end of the spectrum. It almost seems like this is still around with modern pay and what-not. (Looking at feminism)
The men of Confucian China believed that women should basically "be seen and not heard." Women were supposed to be quiet and docile, and follow the (male) head of their families; as a child, the father was to be obeyed, and after marriage, the husband became the woman's master. Women did not marry for love; the fathers married their daughters off for social and monetary reasons. Women were just pawns to marry off to the highest bidder to gain more money and raise social standing.
Adding to both Brian and Elise's points:
Like Brian said, with few exceptions women were treated with some type of respect, but living in that time period you may never see this in public. They were, as you may put it today, a trophy wife. Just like winning a prize to raise your social standing (the male) as Elise put it. The wife did what she was told, nothing more, nothing less.
I agree completely with the statement that women weren’t considered much of an important part of society, as displayed throughout the Examination. Although China has its history of powerful women and famous empresses, the majority of Chinese women, primarily girls, were treated and controlled by the characteristics and rules of a patriarchal and Confucian society. Boys, as displayed through the journey of Hong and Chen, had much more freedom than girls did. They could travel, work, and make a name for themselves; On the other hand, women could not. Foot Binding, as you described, is a great example of this. This practice was not only carried out to impress men, but also limited the amount of foot travel a woman could endure. The low status of women was prominently displayed through the way Meng Dafu described his wives, labeling them as: Wife Number 1, Wife Number 2, and Wife Number 3.This displays little to no respect towards women because they weren’t even called by their real names, rather given labels as to show they didn’t deserve to be valued as much as men, who were called by their full names, did. Meng Dafu’s daughter’s daily life is another example of women’s little freedoms during the reign of the Ming dynasty. Meng Dafu’s daughter, unlike Hong or Chen, was limited only to staying in her father’s compound and couldn’t leave the property. This displays little trust and regards society had towards Chinese women. Finally, the practice of marriage showed the most disregard to the freedoms of women. Young girls, usually expected to marry at early ages such as 14 or 15, had no choice in choosing their spouse. Their father asked a man if he wanted to marry his daughter and only he had the right of saying “yes” or “no”. These examples not only paint the picture of China’s patriarchal society, but also depicts the great disregard the Chinese culture had towards the freedoms and rights of women. (Also, Chinese women couldn’t receive, or rarely did, as good of an education than men did. This is shown/understood as most people were shocked, amazed, and surprised to hear that Hong and Chen’s mother was a highly educated woman).
I thought it was interesting how many people continued to take the examinations even after they've failed multiple times. I don't know if it's because they still have hope that they can pass or if it's because they figure they might as well keep trying. For example, the older friend that Chen meets in the middle of the book repeatedly takes the examinations, even though he's not surprised when he fails each time. I suppose the scholars taking the examinations think that the rewards of passing are worth the stress of taking the tests over and over again.
After reading your post, I related it to the people who take the ACT and similar tests multiple times. It is worth it to try to improve your score, of course. However, many people's scores do not improve after taking the test a number of times. They keep going back because getting a better score will get them into a better college and/or earn them scholarships, therefore hopefully improving their lives in the long run. Much like the scholars, students now-a-days have been preparing for this test for most of their lives. If the scholars fail, it will most likely be hard for them to transition into another lifestyle. In addition, as you said, the rewards given to scholars for passing were quite enviable.
I believe the scholars who take the test over and over do this because they really have nothing to go back to. They studied very hard in order to take it and become Flowering Talents, so they must be at least pretty well-learned on the subjects they test on, so they should have at least a slight chance of making it if they keep trying. Social pressure is also a probable cause for them retaking it. They can't very well go back to their homes they had before, or they would bring shame to the family name, which in China during that time period was a very big deal.
Something I found interesting was how the characters were able to stay true to their signs throughout the book. At the beginning of the novel, Chen was said to be born under the sign of the Ox, and Hong, the Tiger. Chen was able to stick with his knowledgeable character that was connected to literature: just as the Ox sign portrays. Whereas Hong stayed loyal to his brother and their mission during the whole book. (Loyal being one of the traits used to describe those who are born under the sign f the Tiger). He was so loyal the he didn't abandon his brother, even when offered a spot in the army by as a soldier General Ma. I was surprised at this. When faced with such a big offer, I would have expected Hong to leave Chen to finish the journey on his own, but instead, he stuck by him until the very end.
I feel like in the Chinese society they are raised to be like the signs they are assigned. The men stuck to their signs because they know no other way than to act like their signs. For example, if your parents told you from a young age that you must always respect your elders you are going to grow up respecting your elders when you grow up. This is how boys in the Chinese society are raised; Chen was told all through his childhood that he had to be knowledgeable and Hong was always told that he needed be loyal, thus they grew up to be that way. I think that there are signs in this society because they want people to be diverse, so if they make everyone have a different sign they will have a nice, well-rounded society.
I also noticed that. The Chinese zodiac signs were very meaningful and truthful to them. They are assigned my the year they were born. Even to this day, people still use them to guide their life. I could connect to this pretty well because in my Vietnamese culture, we also use the Chinese Zodiacs. They believed that the individual's destiny could be determined with a simple connection. Zodiacs and astronomy all correlate with each other. Taoists believed that space/constellations could determine the individual's future. Zodiacs also tie in with Buddhism. My mom once told me a legend in the Buddhist temple (I'm Buddhist) that Buddha gathered all the animals that were chosen for the Zodiacs. Since religion and zodiacs go hand and hand, many people believed that it was their destiny.
So even if they wanted to go in a different path they wouldn't be able to because its not true to their sign. Its stamped in their brain that they have to be a certain way, so when there is something opposing that, they would think that its not part of their moral values.
While I was reading The Examination I noticed how Hong wasn't going to give his father any of the money he received after the cricket fighting. This struck to me as odd because in the Chinese culture especially under the religion of Confucius , family was a very big part of their life and you had to respect your parents, especially your own father. To me, it made sense to not give his father any money because he was a drunk and would spend the money merely on alcohol and gambling but when his sister told him how everyone was talking about him not giving his father any money and how it was a disgrace it was odd. Even though people knew that his father was like that they didn't really care. It was the mere concept that his own son wont give him any money. Aside from that I noticed how Hong and Chen were totally opposite people. But as I kept reading I realized that they make each other better. They might not like one another's ideas but one has what the other hasn't. Chen is the smart one with no skills what so ever other than learning and Hong is the street smart one. Through their whole journey to Beijing they couldn't have done it alone. Because Chen was a scholar, people left the two boys alone and if they didn't Hong would have a plan to make the men leave them alone. All in all I learned what brotherhood meant. I learned what family meant. I learned that no matter how mad your family makes you, you have to stick by their sides through everything. I truly enjoyed this book.
I have to agree with Andreea that the relationship between Hong and his dad did seem weird to me. I was surprised, especially as later on you found out Chen was really an avid believer in Confucius's words. However, the thing I chalked it up to was that his actions were technically socially correct; after all, Confucius was against the type of gluttony for money that the father had, so in a way Hong was kind of supporting Confucian beliefs more than it seems. When Hong decided to give the father a minimal amount of money, that really struck me like how even today people sometimes have to do things that they don't want for the greater good. Overall this was one of the most relatable parts to me personally.
About the part in your comment about filial piety, I wondered a lot about the same thing. Filial piety was a huge part of Confucianism. Bao and Chen blindly obey the statutes of Confucianism. However, Hong sees no point in wasting his hard-earned money, which cost him the lives of his crickets. His sister Bao is ashamed because everyone is gossiping about their family in the markets, about their drunkard of a father and how Hong will not obey the ways of Confucius and is ignoring his duties pertaining to filial piety. Chen only wants Hong to follow the ways of Confucius. As a result, Hong is forced to part with some of his money even though it could go to better uses. Filial piety was not always a source of harmony in this family.
Although society saw Hong not wanting to give any of his earnings to his father as disrespectful, I viewed it as Hong actually respecting what filial piety should be. Hong did not want to give his father money because he knew his father would waste it, so by not giving his dad any money he was trying to straighten out his father and make him viewed better in the eyes of society. If Hong was to give his father a portion of his earnings he would not be looking out for his father's well being because his father would waste it on alcohol. Thus, Hong looks like a bad son when in fact he I actually the better son because he cares about what happens to his father in the long run. Since he was convinced to give his father money, I feel like he is letting his dad down because the money is not going to fix his father's problem, so by following his sibling's advice he is not following respecting his family or his father.
I also have to agree with Andreea, even though the two brothers were complete opposites, one always had what the other did not. They had each others backs, that's how they made it through their journey to Beijing. This is how the story became very relatable to me as well. Sometimes you have to do something you really don't want to do, but you know that it will help you in the long run. It's just like as much as Hong didn't want to give any money to his father, he did anyway because he knew that it was the best decision he could have made at that point.
One of the things that struck me as interesting while reading The Examination was the steadfast dedication of the members of The white lotus group. How the young White Lotus spy named Yao sacrificed himself in order for Hong to deliver the letter to the army officer in Beijing and Hong's ability to not say a word about the letter while withstanding the thousand cuts. Also, why did the official in Confucius' burial ground not report Chen for kowtowing three times? A punishment worthy of death?
I found it interesting how when we learned about China, it seemed as though it was relatively stable in terms of government, but when Chen described the Chinese history, he talked about what we learned as short periods of unrest as if they were a very big deal. Perhaps it is because it relates more to them and is closer to their present? Like how we learn about the Classical China in one chapter, but later on we'll take a year-long course on American History.
What exactly was the White Lotus Society? According to The Examination, it was a society that was supposed to overthrow tyranny and establish justice. I was curious and tried to find more information. According to other sources I found online, the White Lotus Society was a Buddhist sect forced to go underground that later started many rebellions against the government and foreign rule. Didn't these rebellions cause more problems? They would need to find a man who could be a good emperor, and who could bring peace to China and keep the country united. And the peace only lasted for so long, and the cycle was repeated. Perhaps even without the help of the White Lotus, the country could have eventually found a good leader without the need to overthrow the government.
the white lotus was a buddhist secret society that wanted to overthrow the emperor and probably establish a buddhist state in china. as of the rebellions, they caused more problems in the immediate time after they were started and if they failed, but in between then or if they succeeded, life was most likely better for the people rebelling. also, basically the only way to get a good leader in china is to rebel :P
One thing that i noticed in the booked that seemed sort of strange to me was the gambling part of the cricket fighting. Lao Hong and landlord Meng made an agreement that if Hong won both fights he would get two silver tael and if he won one fight he would only get one silver tael. the part that i found strange was when it said that if landlord Meng won he just won pride. Why would Landlord Meng fight Lao Hongs crickets if he wasn't going to get anything out of it if he won. In today's world you don't really gamble unless each person has something to give if they lose.
Some of the reasons that Landlord Meng would be willing to bet a silver tael for each fight that Hong's crickets won are, for one, because it shows his wealth and power to the peasants watching in the shack that he might oversee, but also that he isn't afraid of a mere farm boy's crickets because of his position of power.
Learning about how Hong gambled his two best crickets for even a chance of winning some silver for his family makes me can't help but think that he is just like his father, even though he repels him. Think about it, he would get so angry whenever Chen or Bao brought up the subject of sharing his newly formed fortune with their father as a form of respect, because he knew exactly what he would use it for, gambling. Beside from the fact that it is just how Hong gained his fortune
Cricket fighting is basically gambling in. He didn't know how well his crickets were going to do. It was a chance he was willing to take for some money. Taking chances for money. It was also considered as a sport and entertainment. This was one the of the interesting things that I learned from this book. I didn't realize that Cricket Fighting and cricket breeding was a real until I researched it a little on my own on google.
One thing I noticed while reading The Examination was that the people who lived in the same village as Chen considered Chen’s father and Chen’s brother, Hong, a disgrace to Chen’s entire family. Chen knew passing the examination would restore honor to his family (and because he had promised his mother before she died). I thought that this was relatable to current times because the villagers judged Chen for his family’s actions, similar to how today people will have biases about others because of their siblings/ parents/ etc.
I noticed this as well on how back then and today people will judged by their, family, friends, siblings, what they wear, how they act, etc.I feel that Chen maybe even focuses and works so hard because all the pressure he has and all the pressure he puts on himself. With trying to restore honor back to his family's name and the promise he gave to his mother, I see why he works so hard. But, maybe if people weren't so judge mental maybe Chen's generation and even our generation would have less pressure and instead of trying to be something they are not they would be themselves and instead of doing things for others they would do things for themselves and do what they want to do.
I observed some cultural problems in the book. I noticed that there were people for the government and people against the government. Chen works and struggles to work for the government while Hong goes out of his way to work against the government. They both show how loyal they are. What I thought was really ironic is that Hong gives up what he has to help his brother pass the examination, which will eventually give him a high position in the Chinese government. Then Hong starts to work for the Lotus, which is a group that goes against the government. In some way he is stabbing his brothers back, figuratively. This goes back to what we learned in class, the government may be strong, but the people who were supposed to uphold it are against them , which makes it weak. Didn't you think it was ironic how the author juxtapositions these two brothers with their positions in the story? It made me mad. How were your feelings towards it?
As I read The Examination I was very upset about the corruption the took place with the candidates who were taking the examination. It is mentioned several times in the book that people who bribe the proctors have better odds to pass the examination. This is wrong because people who lack knowledge could pass the test where others fail just because they lack money to bribe the proctors with. Then, I read about men who are 35 to 50 years old shave their beards in order for them to look under the age of 25: since candidates who are younger than 25 have an easier test. I have an issue with the men who shave their beards because I do not believe men who lack honesty should have a higher social status than the honest men who are not smart enough to take the test. I also have an issue with the exam itself because I do not believe it is a fair judgment of knowledge due to the fact that younger men get an easier test. I feel like many of the men who go through the examination do not deserve the honor that comes with passing because they take it just so that they can get away with petty crimes, don't have to pay taxes and they get paid for literary services. Some men use the examination just as a free pass on life, so that they can live without any hardships and never have to do manual labor. Lastly, I find the examination to be unfair because men who come from families with great amounts of money or men who come from royalty can pass the examination regardless to what they write down. I feel like these men are riding on their parents and grandparent success, which is a bad thing because the have no knowledge of how the real-world works. Plus, they would not be able to support themselves if anything was to suddenly happen to their parent's reputation. Does anyone else feel the same way about the examinations?
I was also upset with the corruption during the examination. Before I read this book, I thought the examination was a lot more fair because I knew that even people of low status could achieve a higher status by passing the test. It was upsetting to hear that as long as you had enough money to bribe the officials, your chances of passing the examination increased. Once the candidates that bribed the officials pass the test and become an official in the government, they will not have the knowledge to help lead and improve the country. This will also lead to future officials accepting bribes and this would become an unending cycle leading to more corruption and a weaker government. I also thought that the younger men getting an easier test was unfair because knowledge is not measured by what age you are.
I felt as if the book helped me understand how much the Confucian belief effected the family dynamic. When we read about the 5 relationships of Confucianism I wondered how it would affect a dishonored/shunned member of a family, now thanks to the examination i know that a Confucian respect still must be applied even if the recipient of that respect is dishonorable.
Another thing i had noticed was that much like many people folklore was used to explain an occurrence in the world. This was shown by the explanation of how the gorges were formed.
I also noticed that the 5 relationships of Confucianism was still taken very seriously for a dishonored household. When Hong won the money from the cricket fight and refused to give it to his father, the villagers gossiped about Hong and said he was a disgrace to their family name. I thought it was interesting that even though the villagers did not like Hong's father and thought he was a bad person, they still thought that Hong should have given the money to his father, knowing that he would waste it all gambling. That really shows that no matter what, the Confucian father-son relationship was more important to them.
I find it interesting how Hong and Chen are like polar opposites. Chen does not want to become a scholar and is not serious about his studies. While Chen is very serious on his works of studies and becoming a scholar. I feel like the story portrayed Hong as the stero-typical Chinese son every Chinese father would want to have as his own. For Hong is the kind of son that would bring honor to the family with his studies and his want and seeking to become a scholar. Chen, on the other hand, does not respect elders and authority which brings shame or disgrace to the family. With that I found it interesting on how these two brothers worked together using their similarities and differences to go on a journey together. However, I believe Chen is just as smart as Hong with their different outlooks on life, but in a differnt way. So is Confucian really right about all of his beliefs? What I believe is that both Hong and Chen's beliefs are right. But it's up to the people, who will listen and who will not?
IGNORE THE FIRST ONE I MADE MISTAKES ON THE NAMES AND MIXED THEM UP SORRY THIS ONE IS FIXED AND REVISED:
I find it interesting how Hong and Chen are like polar opposites. Hong does not want to become a scholar and is not serious about his studies. While Chen is very serious on his works of studies and becoming a scholar. I feel like the story portrayed Chen as the stero-typical Chinese son every Chinese father would want to have as his own. For Chen is the kind of son that would bring honor to the family with his studies and his want and seeking to become a scholar. Hong, on the other hand, does not respect elders and authority which brings shame or disgrace to the family. With that I found it interesting on how these two brothers worked together using their similarities and differences to go on a journey together. However, I believe Hong is just as smart as Chen with their different outlooks on life, but in a differnt way. So is Confucian really right about all of his beliefs? What I believe is that both Hong and Chen's beliefs are right. But it's up to the people, who will listen and who will not?
An interesting and cultural observation made while reading the Examination was the Chinese people’s great respect for the dead. An example of this was displayed as Chen visited and paid his respects at Confucius’s tomb in Qufu. Chen displayed such respect and high admiration for the dead philosopher that he kowtowed three times in front of his grave, and honor preserved only for the emperor. This action of paying such high respect to his dead Master shows that even though one is dead, his legacy, honor, and value does not parish. This cultural act of paying such high respect for the dead is strengthened even more through Hong’s act of burying his two fighting in his backyard. Although these two crickets were only tiny animals, Hong had appreciated them enough to give them a proper burial in his backyard. This displays a great sense of appreciation for the dead because although they were not humans, he still felt that they deserved a proper burial and appropriate respect for their great actions and values they had provided. These two examples, along with other accounts of grievances and respects paid to others who died along the trip (Yao and Lin Shi), exhibit how the Chinese people not only didn’t forget about those who died, but greatly appreciated, remembered, and valued them for who they were and not what others made of them today. Another interesting observation made was Hong’s great loyalty displayed towards his older brother Chen. Hong, a tiger, stayed true to the characteristics of his zodiac. Hong, although younger, was always there for his brother and almost acted as his advisor, making sure he was always focused and got to where he needed to be. Hong was devoted to Chen, almost like a mother is devoted to her child. This “mother/son” relationship was achieved due to the fact that Hong kept his promise he had made to his mother of making sure that Chen would get to the Beijing examination. Hong sacrifices his own wishes and desires just to see his brother make it to the examinations and succeed (ex. Not joining the army). Although sometimes frustrated with Chen and his little knowledge of the world around him, Hong never stops and always encourages him to get through the examinations and prosper. This type of loyalty displayed by Hong and respects paid by both to the dead makes me admire and highly appreciate ancient Chinese culture. In my opinion, such high values as these, paired with other even more higher standards of ancient Chinese culture exhibit why China thrived as much as it did. Agree or Disagree?
I thought the concept of the Chinese zodiac was interesting. In the beginning, it said, "Lao Hong was under the sign of the Tiger, so he ought to be strong, if reckless; but hot-tempered; compassionate, though with little respect for authority." I thought this was a bit vague considering there are millions of people born under this sign. Growing up knowing he was born under the sign of tiger, Hong's personality was probably influenced by this, as well as Chen and many other people in ancient China. Also, the Chinese zodiac reminded me of the astrological signs because they both can describe someone's personality.
I just wanted to speak my mind on how Chen placed lower after writing about how the government neglected certain areas such as the flooded one. Being a state that followed the Mandate of Heaven concept, it was important for the Chinese government to keep the people of China on their side. The concerns that Chen spoke of would make the government look bad, thus bringing an unfavorable response from the public of China. In order to suppress Chen's criticism of the Chinese Government, they did not rank him first.
I thought it was interesting how people showed much less emotion to others back then. Most people at that time were very reserved and respectful. They had very specific ways of acting around certain people. Does this apply to only China at this time or were there other places that had this lifestyle?
I also think Chen and Hong both felt honored when they were given the letters to deliver. Obviously it was an important task that needed to be handled with care. The fact that they were messengers means that they were trusted, respected, and felt capable of doing the deed. The brothers must have also felt nervous with such a big responsibility to worry about, not wanting to disappoint their elders. (extension of earlier topic)
I think although they may have seemed close at the beginning, Hong and Chen never really understood each other. Although they knew each other better than anyone and respected each other, they had such vastly different personalities that they could never really be on the same page. I think that they drifted apart just as a result of having different goals and ways of thinking. (extension of earlier topic)
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