Silence, by Qin Zhao-yang, written under the pseudonym He You-hua, appeared in Renmin Wenxue (People's Literature) in January 1957. Qin was the editor of this periodical and an adherent of realistic fiction rather than socialist realism. He published Wang Meng's story "The Young Newcomer" and wrote a number of stories and essays attacking party bureaucrats and bumbling cadres.
"Silence" is a fairly subtle story; while apparently a study of human nature, it also draws attention to the persistence of attitudes of mind characteristic of the old society which still afflict the populace. Qin explicitly criticizes both the District Chief who bullies and intimidates the villagers, while implicitly reproving the villagers, who let themselves be bullied and intimidated. Such attitudes are remnants of the old society and must be changed. One cannot help but be convinced that the District Chief is chastened and silenced solely because Fang Guan-fang is the wife of a party official. He backs down not because her cause is right but because her position is high. Fang Guan-fang, on the other hand, is struck dumb with rage and disillusionment that persons such as the hooligan and the District Chief should have any influence and authority at all. The villagers have not yet learned to speak up for themselves.
Such situations should not arise in the new China, and clearly, implies Qin, there remains much to be done.
By Qin Zhao-yang
translated by Jean James
On an afternoon in late autumn, I rode on a bicycle to Li village, which is roughly six miles from the county seat, to call on the head of the agricultural cooperative and collect some information. Half way there, I encountered a line of large carts which appeared to be the better part of a mile in length. All the carts were empty. I jumped off my bike and began chatting with the drivers. I found out that they were heading back to Li village from the Grain and Foodstuffs Bureau at the county seat. They had gone there to turn in the government's share of the harvest. They were all from Li village because it had over one thousand households in it. What was so peculiar was that the line of carts was moving so slowly, as if they were afraid of stepping on ants. Probably right after having eaten breakfast, these drivers had hitched the carts, weighed the load, loaded up, gone straight to the door of the Grain and Foodstuffs Bureau in town, unloaded, weighed the load, got their receipts and had stored the grain away in the