Reflective statements on the IOs of ‘To Live’ by Yu Hua

Question: How was your understanding of cultural and contextual considerations of the work developed through the interactive oral?

My initial reaction to reading ‘To Live’ by Yu Hua was confusion, as I didn’t have much knowledge of the politics of the time that the book was describing, and thus many of the ideas presented within the book were alien to me

One of the main things I learned from the IOs was about the life of the author. One of the main and most important thing that I learnt was that Yu Hua once worked for a cultural center, and was given a cushy job as a ‘soft’ government official whose job was to go to villages and laze around. This reminded me strongly of the nameless narrator of the story who Fu Gui tells his life story to, which makes it seem like Yu Hua based this story on his life experiences.

I also learned of The Great Leap Forward one of the main periods described in the book, was an economic change which failed. The book demonstrates this by showing the hardships that Fu Gui and his family went through at the time that this was occurring in the story.I learned that Yu Hua was most likely based this theme in the book on his experiences of life during The Great Leap Forward in china. The hardships were horrendous as The Great Leap Forwards killed at least 18 million people. As the book claims people were expected to much while in theory gaining the same profit as everyone. However due to The Great Leap Forward killing millions of deaths, it was eventually considered a failure and thus it was abandoned.

The Cultural Revolution was in its own way worse than The Great Leap Forward. The intelligent were targeted and thus progress in the field of new ideas in anyway what so ever was suppressed. Anyone opposed to the ideals of the party at the time and “revisionists” (people who interpreted the revolution different from the party) were publicly tortured and humiliated in order to keep the people submissive under the party’s views.

Overall the IOs helped me to increase my knowledge on the historical context of the text, which in turn helped me understand the book better as I could see why certain events happened in the book.