POLITICAL INTEGRATION IN RU ZHIJUAN'S "LILIES"
Robert E. Hegel
CRITICS all remark on the emotional power and the restrained didacticism of Ru Zhijuan "Baihehua" ( Lilies, 1958).1 The story is rather brief, has only two (according to most Chinese readers) main characv ters, neither of which has any extraordinary characteristics or talents, and consists of just a few events, all of them common enough in wartime. Yet through those events ordinary characters become heroic, overcoming strictures imposed by culture, gender, physical limitations--even by death itself. It is ostensibly a story of ideological integration, of transcendence of political marginality, of freeing the self from isolation, from the past, even from concern for self altogether. The story is carefully wrought in structure and dense with symbols having highly emotional associations. These features, together with the subtle manipulation of its first-person narrator, produce a seemingly artless work that engaged--and eased--some of the deepest political anxieties of its original audience. Since the political climate has changed dramatically over the last thirty years, making some of its original message irrelevant to its readers in other political periods, I will deal with this characteristic briefly at the end of the essay, as a historical artifact. First, we should observe how the Maoist theory of contradictions informs the structure of this brief tale.
At least in his philosophical writings, Mao Zedong ( 1893-1976) advocated utilization of the dialectical approach to understanding reality. Like Lenin, Stalin, and other Marxist writers, Mao saw change as the product of contradictions within an entity or phenomenon, specifically in the alternation of relative dominance of those aspects or elements that define any contradiction. Even though the existence of each aspect is a condition of the existence of the other and identified by its