The Effect of Society on the Outcome of an Individual’s Goals in Lao She’s “Rickshaw Boy”

1059 words 5 pages
The effect of society on the outcome of an individual’s goals in Lao She’s “Rickshaw Boy”

In our present society, the role of an individual may seem to have little significance in the grand scheme of things. However, the lifestyle one partakes is important, and it will shape not only oneself, but will also influence many of those around, as well as society influencing the role of the individual. In the novel “Rickshaw Boy” by Lao She, the protagonist, Xiangzi, is representative of an average man in the lower class of early 20th century China; starting out as an honest and likeable rickshaw puller in Beiping, he has a slow and gradual descent throughout the novel into the self-centered and tragic man he is by the end. This is certainly
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If they had thought of others as well as themselves, and found a balanced way of living, then their quality of life would have improved significantly.
The environment one is brought up in changes whom one is as a person. Though it may seem that the outcome of Xiangzi’s life is of his own fault, it’s at least partially because of the society he grew up in. Taking place in any other time or setting, the novel’s outcome may have been dramatically different. As She says, in the final paragraph of the novel, “Respectable, ambitious, idealistic, self-serving, individualistic, robust, and mighty Xiangzi took part in untold numbers of burial processions but could not predict when he would bury himself, when he would lay this degenerate, selfish, hapless product of a sick society, this miserable ghost of individualism, to rest.” Xiangzi, like most rickshaw men, is uneducated. He learns only from the experiences he has, and his experiences teach him not to care, not to try as hard as he can, because it’s not worth it. In this way, he is a product of a sick, oppressive society. Xiangzi himself is not the reason for his downfall. His faults are a reflection of how he lives and how he sees his role in society.
Despite having the best intentions to get ahead, Xiangzi continuously fails to succeed in life. Independent and self-centred, he is the picture of an