Mountain Road by Chen Yingzhen

The society depicted in Mountain Road is in an unhealthy state. This state is caused by the pressure, poverty and sadness brought by a corrupt, unfair, and unjust governance, which cruelly treats the opposition through killing them and jailing anyone opposed to it. The pressure and sadness brought to these people causes great suffering, huge secrets, tears, bad memories and even deaths. The story abounds with examples of people who suffer in the hands of the cruel leadership. The characters depicted by the writer encounter various life difficulties. Some have to hide great secrets, some are just trapped by the events in the country, and others suffer absolute poverty, working so hard but getting so little. People become victims of the inhumane treatment by the authorities, being sacrificed to scare others, and some of them are left with so many terrible memories that haunt them for the rest of their lives. Li-goumu, Lao-dasao, and Zhembo are few of those victims.

Nevertheless, even during the hard times and sufferings, people remain their humane features and love for their closest. The theme of compassion, family tights, selflessness, patriotism and responsibility is being clearly demonstrated by the author in his book. This essay will make an attempt to demonstrate how these themes are revealed through the actions of the characters in the book.

One of such examples is Li-Guomu, a caring and concerned friend and family member. After the sickness of his sister-in-law, he leaves all his activities to take care of her. Despite having so much to do, Li Guomu prefers to stay in the hospital, also involving his wife in taking care of Lao Dasao. Although having Lao Dasao’s best interests at heart, he hides an important information that could be helpful in treating his sister. This act is a clear indication of Li Goumu’s loyalty towards his sister. He goes against his desire to tell the truth to the doctors, trying to hide her personal issues from the strangers. Nevertheless, Li Guomu presses the doctors to diagnose Lao Dasao’s illness and cure her.

Li Guomu wants to know about the condition of his sister-in-law, who is kept in the intensive care unit, and what she is ailing from, so he consults Professor Yang, the doctor in charge of Lao Dasao’s case. Consequently, after studying her medical history, the doctor says they need to perform more tests but wants to know if there was a particular cause of the illness, for instance, excessive worry or anger. Li Guomu denies it, but the professor advises him to think over it carefully. Li Guomu goes back to the hospital room, where Lao Dasao sleeps. He lets his wife go home to be left thinking about Lao Dasao’s illness and how they had switched hospitals trying to find the cause of her illness.

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The doctor’s words keep echoing in his brain. He recalls how, one day, about two months ago, Lao Dasao had broken in tears after reading a newspaper. Although she claimed nothing was wrong, she later confessed to him that she cried because Huang Zhembo, her husband’s good friend husband had been released from prison, which had brought back memories of her husband. From that day, Lao Dasao has changed, she became quiet and troubled. Being extremely worried about his sister, Li Guomu wonders if he can tell the doctor about the incident regarding his brother and Huang Zhembo. Lao Dasao wakes up and tells Li Guomu about her dream about the trolley track from at his old home. She recalls how she became a part of Li Guomu’s family and how, after the death of her husband Li Guokun, she had made her way to Li Guomu’s home and met his parents. L -Guomu remembers how Lao Dasao bonded with his family and how she had taken the role of their mother after her death. She took care of their father every day, when he was going to work in the morning, and in the evening, after work. This behavior of Lao Dasao is described by the author to demonstrate the love and support between people during the hard times, as well as the importance of family tights.

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In turn, Li Guomu shows nothing but love and support towards Lao Dasao. In addition, he recalls how he has supported her since she had walked into their family and their lives. Guomu helped his sister in law even at the coal mines, where he helped her to moving the coal from the mines to the storerooms. What is more, Li Guomu takes care of his sister-in-law even after the death of his parents. Later, after completing his education and opening an accountancy firm, he takes LaoDasao into his house. Lao Dasao ill, Li Guomu takes her to expensive hospitals and wants the best for her, which is an indication of extreme care and respect that Guomu had towards his sister. Goumu even involves his wife in taking care of his sister-in-law. From her side, Xue Xiang, his wife, has been cooking for sick Lao Dasao and feeding her, which is a demonstration of of diligence and hard work being one of the topic raised by the author. This idea is also illustrated through the depiction of Guomu, who is a very hard-working man. His industriousness helped him rise from an extremely poor background and become a successful man. In addition, he does not let anything hold him back. He preserves good and bad memories of his past and his old home.

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Although he has lost a brother, who was a revolutionist, Guomu does not criticize his actions. In his heart, he has love and understanding. As mentioned above, Guomu demonstrates a particular respect towards his family. Although he has many questions about the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death and wants to ask Lao Dasao about it , he restrains from doing this due to his respect towards his older brother’s wife. After Dasao’s death, he goes into her room and finds a letter explaining her actions. However, he does not react in anger; instead, he is calm but sheds tears. However, he does not expose his feelings to his wife.

Li Guomu displays a rare and unique character. He is selfless, generous, kind, hardworking and loyal. Lao Dasao, in turn, is described as a troubled and disturbed old woman. She is disturbed by her past, by her actions, and the condition her family and friends are in. These worries make her sick and admitted to the hospital. Although Dasao acts tough, inside her heart, she is hurting because of her secret that she discloses to no one. Nevertheless, it is obvious that she is hiding something.

All her medical problems begin the day she reads the article. Away from her sickness, Dasao is a very reasonable woman. On the day of her husband’s death, she goes to his old home and sees that the life of his family is very difficult. They are poor, and they have to work very hard to get food and earn their living. The work is carrying coal up and down a mountain. For many, this situation would be unbearable, but Dasao accepts it. At the time she arrives, Guomu’s mother is very sick, and Dasao takes it upon herself to take care of her. She feeds her mother in law and takes good care of her till she dies. What is more, even after mother’s- in-law death, she does not turn her back from Guomu’s family. She takes the role of their mother and takes care of their family, and her father-in-law, in particular. Every morning, she would pack his lunch and in the evening he would give him water to bath and serve him tea and food.

After the death of her father in law, Dasao starts to work in the mines in spite of its hardship. As the story evolves, Dasao portrays various features that reflect her kindness. Dasao is loving; it is shown by her attachment to Guomu’s family and the help she had offered to them. She is selfless, she gives herself to doing hard jobs just to support her in-laws. One of the outstanding dids of Dasao in relation to Guomu is her support at the time when his father wants to drop him out from school and make him work in the mines. Dasao stood against it and campaigned for Goumu until he completed his education. However, her kindness and compassion is being directed not only towards her family. by all the characters of the story. For example, while working in the coal mines, on his way to the storeroom, she used to throw huge chunks of coal to the poor on so that they could take them to their poor families. This actionis a clear indication that Dasao did not only care about her welfare and that of her family, but also for the welfare of the weak, poor and oppressed in the community.

However, Dasao hides a dark secret. It is the secret that makes her stop Li Guomu from talking to Zhembo, a secret that makes her get very sick and admitted to the hospital and leads her to death. It is only after her death that Li Guomu learns about her secret. As it reveals, she was not Guomu’s sister-in-laws, and she has been keeping this secret during all these years. What is more, she was not ever married to Li Guomu’s older brother. However, as she explains in her letter, she has the best interests of Li Guomu’s family at heart. Although it does not justify her actions, she slowly explains why she acted like that. Why did she do that? She felt she owed it to her country and for the love she had towards Guokun and Zhenbo. Dasao is a true patriot of her country, but, over the years, she forgets about her friends and her country’s needs and gets comfortable with her current life. However, with the release of Zhembo, it all comes back to her. When she remembers the course that she had once worked on so hard, she completely loses her will to live. Thus, these are the circumstances that led Dasao to a sudden sickness and eventual death.

The reaction of Lao Dasao, being a true patriot, is understandable. The country is ravaged by poverty, oppression, prosecution and persecution. The top officials of the government oppress the citizens denying their basic needs and persecuting those who try to go against the will of the government. Nevertheless, there are brave and selfless people like Zhembo and Guokun who try to protect their fellow citizens from the unfair rule and dictator leadership. However, they finish by either being sent to prison or executed. These two characters end up by being betrayed by Lao Dasao’s brother arrested. Guokun is executed and shot together with few other youths while Zhembo is sentenced to life in prison.

Despite the difficulties and prosecution being demonstrated in the book, the author also shows that the desire to fight for a fair and democratic nation finally brings results. After thirty years of imprisonment, Zhembo is released to find a new and a reborn country. As Lao Dasao writes the letter, she knows that it will not be easy for Zhembo to fit back into the community after spending thirty years in jail. She knows that much has changed since Zhembo left. She also understands that she will not be there to support him, so she writes him a letter explaining her actions. Thanks to Zhenbo and many other young people, some of whom died or were killed, the country enjoys freedom and other privileges of a sovereign nation.

In the story, Lao Dasao, Zhembo and Li Guomu go through hard times during their lives, but, in the end, each of them receives a reward. Lao Dasao gets a chance to ease her conscious by helping the family of Guokun and improving their lives. She also finally reveals her secret and tells the truth she had been hiding her entire life. Guomu manages to receive education and set up a successful law firm. He later moves to a luxurious house and lives a decent life. Zhembo, though, after many years, gets his freedom back. He returns into the society he once fought for, and gets a chance to enjoy fruits of what he once labored for.

Thus, the book Mountain Road by Chen Yingzhen is a proof that good aspirations, compassion, family tights, selflessness, patriotism and responsibility being adhered to even during the hard times and sufferings, bring positive results. People who remain their humane features and love for their closest are finally rewarded.

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