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Son of the Revolution Essay

Example 1

The struggles that Liang Heng went through in the story Son of the Revolution during the reign of Mao are an incredible story of loyalty towards political Party versus family. You can slowly see how Liang Heng s absolute loyalty towards Socialism is slowly swayed through personal trauma and strife as he slowly starts to disregard what the Party says and puts himself and his family first.

During the time of the Hundred Flowers Campaign, the party urged the masses to speak out and criticize the Party s shortcomings. Liang Heng s mother was originally skeptical about speaking out but after the urging of her superiors, she decided to speak out to please the Party.

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She said that her Section Head sometimes used crude language and liked to criticize people, that he should give his housekeeper a bed to sleep on instead of making her sleep on the floor, and that sometimes when it came time to give raises, the leaders didn’t lead to the masses opinion (page 8).

The Hundred Flower Movement then suddenly switched to the Anti-Rightist Movement in which every unit was given a quota to find a certain number of rightists to meet and Liang Heng’s mother name was a part of her unit quota, she later found out this label was attached to her because of what she had written in The Hundred Flower Campaign. She was sent away for labour reform which was the first division of her family.

This incident not on labelled Ling’s mother as a rightist but his entire family. Liang Heng s father a firm Party supporter did not believe the Party could be wrong and divorced his wife and forbid his children to see their mother try and distance themselves from her as much as possible and clear the family name, as soon as his mother was reformed his parents divorced. Although the family cut off their ties with their mother Liang Heng and his family were permanently labelled as having a rightist mother.

Two years later his father remarried a mathematics teacher named Zhu Zhi-Dao. Although they married, she was unable to receive a transfer from her small town of Shuangfeng to the larger city of Changsha; they finally had to resign to living apart from each other.

The next movement in which Liang Heng s loyalty towards his family versus the Party was tested was the Cultural Revolution. Mao criticized leaders from the Central down to the local levels, accusing them of suppressing Revolutionaries and juggling black and white (page 44). During this movement, Liang Heng s father was accused of being a Capitalist newsman, opposing the Party and Socialism, opposing the revolution and using his position as a way to propagandize the Capitalist news viewpoints. Now both of Liang Heng s parent’s names were tarnished and this would hang over his head and make it very difficult for him to get an education, a good job along with making him an outcast among his friends and peers.

Shortly after his father received the label of a Capitalist, the Red Guards started to form a group primarily of young students, which Mao endorsed to help enforce the Cultural Revolution. Again, Liang Heng faced another horrible conflict in his life. Liang Heng s sister Liang Fang was actively involved with the Red Guard s trying to carry out Mao’s wishes at the same time Liang Heng s house was subject to a search raid by the Red Guard s due to his father’s standing as a Capitalist and a stinking intellectual.

Although they were there to find anything that would be considered Feudalist-Capitalist-Revisionist items they also beat Liang Heng s father, stole his salary for that month and their transistor radio. Soon the Red Guard s and the revolution started to get out of control and different bands of the Red Guards were fighting among themselves, Mao finally had called in the army to stifle the revolution that was now spiralling wildly out of control.

At about the same time cadres with problems like Liang Heng s father were offered the opportunity to attend a Chairman Mao Thought Study Class, in which he could be remoulded and possibly liberated. Father was overjoyed when he heard about this plan, for he was still convinced that he had committed no serious crime and was the victim of misunderstanding (page 139). His father left for his reform training soon after the announcement that Liang Heng and his two sisters at home alone to take care of themselves.

During his father’s reform, Mao ordered a new directive. One of their main tasks was to put into effect Chairman Mao s call for lower and upper-middle school graduates to go up to the mountains and down to the countryside. They delivered mobilizing reports, saying that the peasants were waiting for the students warmly, that in the countryside fish could be scooped out of the flooded rice fields with a hat and wild turkeys were so numerous that they could be killed with a stick (page 142).

Liang Heng s two sisters signed up excitedly to continue their work for the Party and Chairman Mao, this would leave Liang Heng at home alone to take care of himself at the young age of thirteen. The split of his family is complete; father away at Chairman Mao Thought Study Class, Liang Fang at Jing County, and Liang Wei-ping at the Yuanjiang District near Dongting Lake. During this time Liang Heng joined a gang and learned how to live on the street. A year later Liang Heng s father returned and that put an end to his wandering the streets.

At last, the father was liberated to become a pheasant. The cadres had made errors, Chairman Mao said because they had been away from the grassroots too long. Now they were to settle in the countryside for prolonged re-education; at the same time, they would help to cut off the tail of Capitalism by bringing Revolutionary knowledge and construction to the most isolated regions of China (page 161). Liang Heng and his father went off to live in Changling County in Hengyang District.

This was a new lifestyle to them living in poverty with the pheasants working on a Production Team with only the barest necessities although Liang Heng’s father and his second wife were able to finally unite since a transfer from her small town to a barren region was readily granted. Although during this time Liang Heng had the opportunity to go back to school and quench his appetite for learning, although he was still an outcast among his peers because of his parent’s background. During this time, Liang Heng s loyalty to the Party started to sway as he felt the treatment of himself and his family completely unfair.

Liang Heng was attending upper middle school, found a love for basketball, and soon became an incredible player. His talent was able to get him a good factory job since they wanted such an excellent player in the basketball league of their factory. Liang Heng was such a good player he even had a chance to play for The Provincial Sports Committee and become a professional athlete. He had only one mere formality a political test. He went to meet with the political cadre in charge of the basketball teams although was rejected due to his family s background. He went back to the factory to work and continued to read and study English.

Then in October 1977 came the startling news that entrance examinations were to be held again (page 265)! Liang Heng had the opportunity to go to college and was able to pass the entrance and physical exams. He was the only one from his factory that was accepted. I hoped the classes would be better, but in fact, only a small number proved to be of much interest. Most of the time was wasted in memorizing dogma (page 269). Liang Heng soon learned that only a few classes were important putting together his own study plan making him criticized because of his low political performance.

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During this time the United States and Chinese relationship strengthened and Judy Shapiro, a young professor from the United States, allowed teaching at Liang Heng s college. He was required to submit an English essay for a school project and this brought him in contact with Judy Shapiro. Soon they started to meet on a regular basis Judy teaching him about western ways and Liang Heng helping her to understand aspects of China that everyone else had passed over out of the caution of dealings with foreigners and reluctance to speak of those years of privation and pain (page 276).

This soon turned into a loving relationship. Soon talk of marriage between the two came about and Judy s cadres advised her Chinese-foreigner marriages received the party’s permission, they were ecstatic but easier said than done. Liang Heng s department leaders were adamant that this marriage should not happen. Liang Heng had not taken Judy to meet his parents and this could be disastrous, as I had not taken Judy to meet my mother.

According to custom, I should have introduced to them, but I had been reluctant to frighten my mother with the news that I was involved with a foreigner (page 279). He was able to persuade his parents to approve but the college officials found a rule that forbids student marriages, the only possible solution was for Liang Heng to drop out of school.

But as a last desperate gesture, Judy wrote an impassioned letter to the highest leaders in Peking, including those at the Ministry of Higher Education and the Peking Foreign Expert s Bureau. As an afterthought, we also addressed a copy of the letter to Deng Xia-ping, Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (page 284).

Astounded the party approved the marriage and they were married! They had a very grand wedding arranged by the Foreign Affairs Office and after finishing his education at Hunan Teacher s College. Liang Heng taught middle school for a short time in Zhuzhou before moving with Judy Shapiro to the United States so he could enter graduate school.

One of the most startling things in this book is the absolute destruction and terror China s people and Liang Heng had to live through during the reign of Mao. This time in China’s history required you to have absolute loyalty towards the Party and even though the Party is very corrupt and often unfair with self-seeking political leaders and Mao a senile, crazy leader leading movements forward that often ruined families and killed millions.

Ling Heng s story is one of the millions in this time in China. Luckily, there were enough people from this time like Liang Heng who became a free thinker and took risks to change the Party s policies within China.


Example 2

Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro’s “Son of the Revolution” is a comprehensive story of Liang Heng’s life on growing up during the chaotic times of the Chinese revolution. The purpose of this novel was to depict the horrors and hardships of life during the revolution period in china during Mao Zedong’s reign.

At the beginning of the book, the author portrays that news and ideologies always stated that the government was working for the good of the people of the country. However, as the book unfolds the author reveals that the government is actually exploiting the people through misuse of people’s trust. The book also provides insights into Chinese life during the period of 1954-1978.

In the hope to “re-gain” status and avoid being further insulted, divorce was the path Liang Heng’s father chose to take. However, even after the divorce, the Liang family still endured criticism because once branded, no matter what, they would always be criticized. One of the ways to gain social status was to marry into a family that was part of a party or of high social status. So after divorcing his wife for purely political reasons, Liang Heng’s father married a woman who was both a party member and a high-ranking cadre in the factory. This marriage was obviously based on Liang Heng’s fathers’ desperate need to gain social status rather than out of love.

Marriage was also based on convenience to both partners. When Liang Heng’s father married for the third time it was because he needed someone who could take care of the house and the children and in turn the woman had wanted to leave the village she was living in and live in the city residence where so many goods were available, however, the process to transfer her teaching job from the village to the city was complicated. So she married Liang Heng’s father which Liang suspected in the hope to move to the city easily.


Example 3

This sample of an academic paper on Son Of The Revolution Summary reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion below.

The autobiography “The Son of the Revolution” by Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro is an astonishing story that illustrates two decades of the economic, political and cultural situation in China between the late 50s and 70s. The book embraces the time of the Cultural Revolution, which consisted of various political movements such as The Hundred Flowers Movement, The Great Leap Forward, and so on.

The concurrent presence of the mighty superpowers like the Soviet Union and the USA on the international scene has dramatically worsened the situation in China. According to the research of two political scientists, it would be appropriate to assert that:

during the Cold War, China was the only major country that stood at the intersection of the two superpower camps, a target of influence and enmity for both.” (Nathan and Ross 13).

In early 1950s China occupied a vast territory and was a country that had to be taken into consideration, especially by the two superpowers. China became a partner of the Soviet Union within the framework of mutual communist development and cooperation. In 1953-57 a number of treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance were signed up by China and the USSR. It has led to the development of the Chinese industry and an increase in manufacturing capacity. The Soviets were providing China with a significant number of experts, scientific innovations, material and technical bases.

In the middle of the XXth century, China’s leader Mao Zedong was strongly influencing the ideology using it as the most important mean for shaping the nation’s points of view. Moreover, being involved in the confrontation between the USA and the communists, China joined the latter getting much profit from the relationship than from any other partnership before.

The USSR was supplying China with national security, supporting it financially as the Western countries established an economic freeze on the Chinese products and services. Thus, the power of the Communist ideology has strengthened and became even more crucial for the future of the country.

Son Of The Revolution

The power of that political situation can be observed from the fact that Liang Heng’s father being one of the main book’s characters has been a devoted follower of Mao throughout the story. His son’s childhood was imbued with ideological slogans assuring young Liang Heng in the reality of life where he should be a “Chairman Mao’s Good Little Boy”.

In spite of the humiliation, cruel and unjust attitude Liang Shan has experienced, he remained an honest servant of the communist regime and couldn’t turn off the road. At first, Liang Heng behaves himself as his father ordered him to behave. He enjoys listening to Mao’s speeches, talking about them with the family members and other people.

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The vivid example of young Heng’s delight and enthusiasm associated with his imposed political preferences and beliefs is depicted in the book when Mao arrives to Peking and gives a speech outdoors. The crowd is so happy to observe the chief person of the country that some start stating that they have touched Mao’s hand.

The panic seizes people and they try to get closer to each other in order to even distantly feel the spirit of “the Great”. Afterwards, seeing the leader again, Liang Heng calls Mao the reddest sun of his heart and tells everybody about his incident with the Chairman. (Liang and Shapiro 124).

Obviously, the situation of mutual understanding between two powerful states has become an unpleasant surprise for the USA that was put face to face with an international confrontation. In order to perform a retaliatory blow, the latter came into operation by levying the Korean and the Vietnam War.

As a consequence of the USSR’s effort scattering, China turned away from its former influential partner and launched the policy of international relationship strengthening. The crack in the relationships between Mao’s China and the Soviets took place after Stalin’s death. Mao Zedong concluded that it was time to proclaim him a headquarter, hereby immediately ranking the USSR as an enemy and a competitor.

Throughout the book “Son of the Revolution” the Chinese home policy is severely influencing Liang Heng’s character and his whole environment as he is trying to fit in the system with great eagerness. The communist ideology in China was such, that people were forced to believe in the horror and nightmare of capitalism.  The book describes the multi-valued strategy of the China authorities toward ordinary people.

On one hand, the governmental strategy according to which capitalism has a negative impact on moral values of the whole of mankind is publicly broadcasted, but on the other hand, the same officials and their representatives take all actual adverse possessions such as real estate, personal items, cattle away from their population. It may be clearly observed in the dialogue between Liang Heng’s father and Guo Lao-da – a farmworker:

“What shall I do? My ducks have supported me my whole life. Do they want us to starve to death to fight Capitalism?” “Hush,” whispered Father. “They could blow out your brains for saying less.” Then he spoke softly with him until the fire bummed down very low. I was already asleep in the kitchen when Guo Lao-da went out to kill the ducks.’ (Liang and Shapiro 211).

Witnessing all these challenges and rebelling against the inequity, Heng expresses his emotions in one of the letters to his friend who is considered to be an enemy. He questions the achievement of the Cultural Revolution, he tries to find an answer for being treated so unfairly and endeavours to reveal the reason why people have contributed so much to the national prosperity receiving nothing in return.

The situation where Liang Heng, Liang Shan and others found themselves was a favourable environment for disappointment and self-underestimation. The focus of the story lies in millions of the devastated lives that served faithfully to the regime but all of a sudden we’re back where they’ve started. The general tragedy of the period described in the book is that the ideology looked better in theory.

That is when people hoped to be equally treated and to have equal rights and respective incomes. They were neither lazy nor foolish; they did their best to lead a happy life remaining utterly devoted to the leader and his representatives. Instead, their lifestyles were harsh and oppressive, full of unexpected problems, constant diffidence and uncertainty. All of them were hoping for a single ray of hope in the darkness of reality.

In search of a better life, many of the Chinese immigrated to other prosperous countries. Liang Heng did the same and was hoping to come back in a number of years and become a witness of a country’s economic, cultural and social development. Unfortunately, it didn’t come true.

Moreover, he has noticed that the authorities were not encouraging people to reveal their talents, skills and knowledge. Their policy demanded the same conformity and regime creating an atmosphere of equality. But the latter was more linked to the equality of national disability to develop and create.


Example 4

Peter Kim HIST 354 McKenzie April 2013 Son of the Revolution Essay Right at the start of the memoir, Son of the Revolution, the reader’s attention is drawn to the strict nature of the daycare center the narrator is in. We find that China’s motion towards a Socialist party is integrated down to the people’s level, even implemented and enforced in the daycares. This seems extreme to the reader, especially when the songs sung by the children are titled, “Sweeping the Floor”, “Working the Factory” and “Planting Trees in the Countryside”.

One doesn’t need much context clues to figure out what these songs are about. Consequently, this level of extreme integration has caused Chinese society to value family as second-priority to this pursuit of Socialist. However, in this setting where the family isn’t that well off, we learn that Heng and his siblings were spoiled by their paternal and maternal grandmothers. In regards to Mao Zedong, the people of China are led to believe that Mao was in some sort of a deity, a god that affected everyone’s lives.

Simultaneously, he was considered as a national father of everyone in Communist China. The author demonstrates this when recalling the sweet of relief he felt when he heard “that Chairman Mao had forgiven” him, and through writing exercises that required them to repeatedly practice writing, “Chairman Mao is our Great Saving Star,” and “We are all Chairman Mao’s good little children. ” To many outside nations, including Americans, this seems like a way of brainwashing the people, especially at such an early age.

However, we already know that the leaders of the Communist Party have no such fatherly intentions for their “children”. The “Hundred Flowers Movement,” a movement that encouraged China’s peoples to openly express their voices and opinions, turns out to be a trap set to identify any Rightists in the midst of people. Trying to be helpful, Heng’s mother is accused of being a Rightist and is sent to a labour camp to “reform” her. We observe this clash of traditional Confucian values in a family with the political allegiance to the Communist movement in Heng’s father, even to the point where he denounces his own wife.

The loyalty to China’s Communist Party over family runs deep within its people. Upon hearing that their own father is accused of being a Capitalist and anti-Party, Liang Heng and his siblings become enraged at their own father; in other words, the children honoured the Communist Party more than they honoured their own father, which is ironic to Liang Shang since he abandoned his wife for the Party.

In addition to the Hundred Flowers Movement, Liang Heng’s life took another major turn of events with the initiation of “The Great Leap Forward,” Mao Zedong’s attempt to transform China from an agrarian economy into a more modernized Communist society via rapid industrialization and collective farming. Naturally, private farming would become prohibited and even accused as an act of rebellion against the revolution.

However, the Great Leap Forward was a massive failure with millions of people dying from starvation. Liang Heng’s family was no exception and had to accommodate for these times.

The majority of this narrative takes place during the Cultural Revolution, a movement that resulted from the failure of the Great Leap Forward. The main goal of the Revolution was to shift “old,” traditional, Capitalist China into the “new,” communist China to secure Mao Zedong’s position in power.

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Like his other previous endeavours, we see that the Cultural Revolution brought with it confusion and chaos to the people, particularly having to do with the change in names of everything around them from roads to stores to public parks. Liang’s friends have even abandoned their old names to adopt newer “revolutionary” names.

Still, holding such high regards to their Chairman Mao and failing to see flaws in his methods, our narrator strives to one day carry his own Red Guard uniform, specifically upon seeing his older sister wearing her own uniform. Ironically, his own home is later raided by these Red Guards because of his family’s “political” history – his mother’s relatives have moved to Taiwan, she herself is branded as a Rightist, his father is a writer, or “stinking intellectual. ” These circumstances make it difficult for Liang Heng socially, and he is constantly persecuted and ridiculed by the rest of society because of it.


Example 5

Napoleon Bonaparte has been described to have been a “Son of the Revolution” by many people. If a son can be described as someone who will naturally follow the ideas of his father, did Napoleon support the principles of the Revolution in order to reach total power and success in his empire?

Before the French Revolution, France was in a critical state, where there was great social inequality between communal estates (classes). The lower class complained about the lack of rights and of the overwhelming taxation system and the bourgeoisie (middle class) complained about the privileges given to the aristocracy and clergy (upper class).

The popular will was to overcome the monarchy and the feudalism; and to apply a new type of government based on the three ideals, “liberté, égalité, fraternité”. By 1795, The Directory had not yet worked, resulting in a continuation of the revolution. The post of ruler of France was free.

Napoleon’s successful lead at the battle with the Royalists, gave him some respect as he rose to power. His skills as a soldier and as a leader could be seen and by 1793 he was already Brigadier-General using all opportunities given. Napoleon’s political turning point was when Lucien, his brother, who had used the Coup of Brumaire to become president of the Five Hundred, was able to along with Napoleon override the Five Hundred and expel them. Napoleon then, in 1799 became 1st Consul.

On coming to power, perhaps unsure of his power and how far he would go, he claimed this new constitution would follow the ideas of the Revolution. The ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity were to constitute his representative government.

However, Napoleon’s constitution was contradictory to what the revolution supported. As Napoleon grew in power and in confidence the then cautious “son” now, became more aggressive. In 1801, he said, “We finished with the romance of the Revolution; we must now begin its history”.

One of the most basic principles of the Jacobin revolution was that the sovereignty of France laid with the people and not upon a Monarchy, the idea of fraternity and of people having freedom was followed. Napoleon who had witnessed both a Monarchy and the people in control took his own conclusions and due to events such as the September Massacres would not allow what he saw as chaos to rule France. His coronation, taking the crown from the Pope and placing it on his own head, was not only a message of how powerful he was but also a message to all French people that sovereignty did not belong to them but to him.

Napoleon believed sovereignty of the public would not entitle people to a say in the government but with to a ruler who would govern them as they pleased. He believed people wanted him; he portrayed himself as an enlightened despot. The “son” had now destroyed one of the three pillars imposed by his “father” as he was closest to the Ancien Regime than to the Revolution, in 1808.

Equality, perhaps the most important of the principles of the revolution was another ideal torn apart by Napoleon. Napoleon confirmed the abolition of Feudalism, also established a civil code that states equality in relation to legislation and laws. The right to own property was also safe, but that was about it. His Legion of Honour and the awarding of titles and honours was clearly a contradiction to equality as these could be bought and kept for life.

He claimed that everyone had the chance to be a Duke or have a title but this was untrue, the Nobility was strictly made of the old Nobility, the Bourgeoisie and other people who were awarded for military services. According to Napoleon, courage and talent should be rewarded without distinction of birth but this statement was false as nobility and privileges were bought.

Agricultural workers and peasants were unable to reach success, land was expensive for them to buy and reaching a successful carrier was virtually impossible. To get on in professions a good education and qualifications were necessary. The church ran private schools and they were very costly, free education was only awarded for sons of officers in the Lycées. Most citizens were illiterate. The possibility of careers open to talent and promotion persisted on who you knew and where you came from, then on merit.

Even taxation, which was a massive issue in the revolution, was not equal in Napoleon’s France. He increased indirect taxation on a large scale, consuming goods such as tobacco, playing cards and alcohol was overwhelming expensive and taxation was absurd. The “son” showing himself to be disobedient, destroyed another ideal or pillar set by his “father”.

Napoleon knew liberty was not one of his biggest virtues, he thought liberty would bring him political instability therefore he applied restrictions. Liberty of action and freedom of speech was strictly restricted. Women lost practically all rights they gained and now were again properties of their husbands or fathers. The use of censorship, propaganda and of secret police helped him maintain his rule at the expense of liberty.

I can conclude that Napoleon in fact brought the Revolution to an end. He had no passion for the principles of the revolution. Napoleon, a son of the revolution, having used it as a stepping stone to grow and reach his final title of Emperor. The son learnt that equality, fraternity and liberty could not rule an empire; they would bring failure and terror to his government. Nevertheless, he centralized his power and willingly used his army to alter the makeup of the governments, which were ideas of the Directory.

Napoleon retrieved the ideas he thought were necessary and would bring him success from his “father” but others, were discarded. Napoleon was in fact a creation of the revolution as he rose to power because of the situation France was in, though he did not back up its principles using his own ideals created from a combination of both the Revolution and the Monarchy.

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