The Bonesetter's Daughter by Sachin Palta

My Experience

For my experience of Chinese culture, I chose to read the book The Bonesetter's Daughter. The novel demonstrated many examples of Chinese culture, including some ideas of philosophy. The philosophy that appeared the most is Confucianism. The book was very entertaining to read, and I learned a lot about how China used to be. Some Confucian values that appeared were filial piety, the idea that education is very important, and familial obligation. The book has two stories, one about a girl named Ruth and her mother Lu Ling, whose mind is slowly deteriorating, and one about Lu Ling's past and about how she was an orphan.

Confucianism in the novel

The importance of honoring your ancestors is shown at the very begining of the book when Lu Ling scolds Ruth for not learning Chinese, the language of her ancestors. This demonstrates Xiao which is Filial Piety and familial obligation. Another time familial obligation appears is during the whole book. Lu Ling worships her precious aunts, because she felt that she had wronged her, and that she was the reason that precious aunty died.

When Ruth is older, towards the middle of the story about her, Ruth's feels very much responsible for taking care of her old fragile mother. She feels bad about forgetting Lu Ling's doctor appointment, even though it might not have been Ruth's responsibility. This demonstrates the same Confucian value as the one above. It shows familial obligation. Lu Ling feeling responsible for her mother's doctors appointment means that she cares much about her.

One very important Confucian value is that everyone has the ability to do well in life, if they work hard. In The Bonesetter's Daughter Ruth has a conversation with Lu Ling, in which Lu Ling explains that being pretty does not matter. Even of you are the ugliest person in the world, your chance is equal to all others. It is all about how hard you work. This is also probably the reason that Lu Ling never disturbed Ruth while she was studying. Whenever Ruth did not want to talk to her mother, she would simply say "I'm studying."

One other time the idea of education being important was demonstrated was when Lu Ling came to the orphanage. She knew how to read, and so the people at the orphanage valued her knowledge, and let Lu Ling stay as a student and as a teacher.

One Interesting Question

One interesting question that I derived from my evaluation of the book was what would have happened if the one-child policy was in play during the time when Lu Ling lived. Although Precious Aunty is technically the mother of Lu Ling, her mother technically had more than one child. Would Lu Ling's mother have put her in the orphanage sooner? If this policy was around during this time, it could have changed their whole families life forever.

Why THis is the best choice

In my opinion everyone doing this project should definitely choose to read The Bonestetter's Daughter because it shows the most clear examples of the ideas studied in class, in Confucianism. While still keeping it entertaining. The museum has some great examples, but it might not be as entertaining was reading The Bonesetter's Daughter. On the other hand Kung Fu Panda is a very entertaining film, which everyone can enjoy, however the examples of the legacy of ancient China might be a little bit difficult to find in the film. The Bonesetter's Daughter gives the perfect balance between entertainment, and education.

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