Born in 1960 in Hangzhou China, Yu Hua is a Chinese author whose first fiction publication came out 1984. He started writing after working for five years of writing, while still in his twenties. He has four novels and six collections of short stories which jolted the mind of most readers. Published in 2009, “Their Son” gives practical ideas and perspective in the new Chinese generation. It gives more attention to the needs of consumers as opposed to the ambitions of Chinese youth who were pro-democratic in the late 1980s.
The story commences by painting a picture of exhausted workers shouting and banging the main gate of the factory as they awaited the evening bell to end their shift. Like animals trapped in a cage, the workers wore tired faces with clouds of dust hanging around them as darkness peeped through factory windows (Carolan 66).
The experiences of Shi Zhikang demonstrate what workers at the factory went through; difficulties on a daily basis. The hustle to catch secure space in the trolleybuses was a norm to them with Shi Zhikang avoiding the scrum by walking ahead of others.
It is clear that workers at the factory encounter commuting challenges that made Shi Zhikang to sympathize with them. Many of those who scrammed for limited bus spaces had medical conditions, ropy heart and kidney complications. Unfortunately these were among workers who were left by an overloaded bus that could not accommodate any more passengers. Although Shi Zhikang had secured a chance, he felt the intense pain as his body was pressed against others in the bus.
Notably, the problem within the transport was immense as crowds of people struggled for limited spaces. This made them reach home late and risk their lives on the dark streets waiting for public buses. The scrams for bus spaces are also chaotic and dangerous. For instance, Shi Zhikang is dragged by one of the people fighting for space that evening, causing him to land his bottom on the ground and a head knock on one of the passengers (Carolan 68).
To make the pile of suffering even bigger and heavier, Shi Zhikang does not understand why his wife was not at home by seven in the evening which was never her routine. These people are also confronted with the likelihood of flu and pneumonia outbreak. As a result, Li Xiulan, Shi Zhikang’s wife insists on her husband washing hands before slicing beef.
The argument between Shi Zhikang and his wife further illustrates the economic hardships at the moment. She mentions that she managed to buy a pair of dead fish because she was left with only three yuans. Although Li had always arrived home before seven, that evening she had fell as she scrammed for space at the bus stop. She had spent more than thirty minutes at the spot and this explained her furry and late arrival. The Bruise on her leg was enough evidence that the encounter was too painful for her to have resisted (Carolan 69).
The arrival of their son is detestable. He seems not to understand that his mother was pushed off the bus. He instead advises her to increase calcium intake that was equally important to the elderly. Their son listens to music as he watches TV and ignores washing hands claiming to have used a cab and not public means (Carolan 70).
With high cost of living, Shi Zhikang and his wife find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are forced to sacrifice in order to save yuans for their expenses and three hundred for their son. Despite this struggle, their son preferred using a cab from college every Saturday, an experience their parents had never had.
Shi Zhikang and the wife face financial challenges beyond the dead fish and bean curd. Many workers lose their jobs but Shi is certain that his skills are still valuable. With retirement beckoning, the worry of how their finances were to be affected was tormenting them, enough to make them discuss with their son who supported their early retirement for better pay.
According to their son, he preferred using a cab to avoid crowded buses which his parents used on a daily basis. He also emulated what his classmates did; they more often took cabs when travelling home (Carolan 72). He is neither bothered because he was confident in owning a car in future. Their son views his parents financial constrain as a reflection of the state crisis which was not to worry him.
Despised his contentment with the current situation, their son focuses on the future, in which he sees himself as a successful person owning a prestigious car that would spare him the agony of using public buses that were always contaminated with stench from crowded passengers. Nevertheless, Shi Zhikang and his wife are concerned with how he will manage his finances and budget for his needs when he starts working.
The story depicts the challenges in the Chinese new generation which are countless. These life confrontations revolve around the needs of consumers who find it hard to make ends meet because of existing financial crisis. Most workers in the generation live with the fear of losing their jobs as factories and other employers line up to deal with the situation. As away of securing a better financial future, some workers like Shi Zhikang and his wife contemplate on applying for early retirement in order to receive better pay.
On the other hand, ambitious Chinese youths come head on with the situation. As a pro-democracy generation, they are optimistic that coming generations will not suffer; they will own cars and not use cabs or crowded and stinking public buses. It is indeed a reflection of the new generation and its challenges with emphasis on the needs of consumers.
Carolan, Trevor. Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories from the New Asia-Pacific. Boston, MA: Cheng & Tsui, 2009. Print.