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Review of “Son” by Yiyun Li



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    Son, written by Yiyun Li. Karolina Stromberg 10SPC Han are an ethnic group native to East Asia. Han is the majority ethic group of the chinese population and by that one can think that maybe the name Han (in the story) was decided because he is not so different from others as he thinks he is. That his mother will wait at the airport for him with a photo album that contains pictures of woman that he can marry. A diamond bachelor has usually passed the optimum marriage years, but is much valued because he is successful in his career and has status in society. Many women desire such bachelors.

    In this content filial duty (duty of a son)is for Han to marry a woman and having a son to make his mother and the chinese society satisfied although he is gay. A sacrifice he is not willing to make. Giving your parents a son is the “basic” filial duty. He is not happy to have gotten a cross by his mother because he thinks that the church wants to sell expensive gifts to earn money. He does feel because of his homosexuality that he never can be a christian and therefor his bribe from his mother is making him uncomfortable. Han’s mother values her love towards her son strongly but does also value her belief.

    She does not mind being, in a way, led by someone else. Han on the other hand values that he “sees the world as it really is”. Han thinks that his mother is blind and just do what her “leader” wants her to do. Han wants to rule his life completely by himself while his mother sometimes let other rule her life a bit to much. Karl Marx german philosopher he is a famous by being a revolutionary socialist. Han is implying that his mother is living in a fantasy dream and not in the “real” world. The government has blocked such sites as Han usually visits. The two different churches is a underground church and the state licensed hurch. The underground church is standing agains the communist party and so does Han. Han brings a text that he has printed about how his mother’s church is using people to earn money and stands by the communist party. Confucius was a chinese teacher, politician and philosopher. He lived 551-479 BCE. Confucius principles had a basis in common chinese tradition and belief. He stood for strong family loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children etc. Han got the bible from a friend when he was thirteen years old. That was the most precious gift he had ever gotten.

    It was symbolic for Han’s first love and his mother burned that bible. He uses that story to say that she has not believed a long time and that she does only believe in God because she is so easy to influence. Han’s mother is in some perspectives easy influenced by the people around her and she makes it pretty obvious by repeating words that are said to her. Although she has so much love for her son that no one could effect. For her it does not matter what he is or what he does, she loves him anyway. To conclude she is in some perspectives a parrot but about the meaningful and important things in her life, nothing could change her mind.

    Han thinks that it is wrong of his mother to bribe the children to go to church. He pays them double not to go to church. He thinks that religion should not be pushed onto anyone, it should be by free will. His mother wants the children to see “the truth in life” but while Han does not believe in God he does not think that the Christian believe is the “Truth”. Han is a loving son, although he might not always show it. He does not love himself because he sees himself as “different” and because he knows that he (because of his homosexuality) will never become a father which makes him a bad son.

    Anyhow he does care a lot about his mother, he is sending a part of his salary to her every year and he pays her visits. He really wants to be the good son but is not willing to sacrifice a part of himself for it. Han describes the accident as a trauma and people running worried and he knows that it is the boy he paid not to attend church. Han blames the accident on himself and his disbelief. He feel connected with the boy in some levels because this boy will never become a father. Just like Han. From Han’s point of view the communist party is not something good.

    He thinks badly of the ones that rules the country. Therefor may this story not be appreciated in China and it can because of that change Yiyun Li’s option of visiting China some day. As written before Han is an homosexual and that also means that he never will become a father. In China it is an important thing for a man to have a son, it is important for the man’s parents and for the whole society. With that in mind Han’s choice of staying by his choice and not marrying a woman must have been rather hard for him and it is a hurtful thought for Han. It is not okay to be a homosexual in the Christian belief.

    A man should marry a woman and therefor Han feels that he is doomed. He is not coming to heaven so why should he even bother believing,. He uses those words partly to shut his mother up and make a point. The other reason that he uses such strong words might be because he really believes that he is doomed and that he is angry of himself not being attracted to woman. Han’s mother does not condemn him. She tells him that God knows everything, he understands everything and he loves you. She wants her son to start believing, not only in God but also in himself.

    The final note is that whatever Han will do in his life his mother will always love and support him. The narrator is a third person although we look through Han’s eyes. That might influence my understandings and judgement but mainly it makes me understand more about why Han thinks and acts the way he does. In the beginning of the story I felt sympathy for Han’s mother because she tried so hard and did not get any response from Han. Although in the end my mind has changed and I does not longer see Han’s mother as the “Weaker” individual. Instead I see Han as a broken man who should love himself.

    Review of “Son” by Yiyun Li. (2016, Oct 29). Retrieved from

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