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Spring Silkworms (Chun Can) by Mao Dun

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“Spring Silkworms” reflected the life in a village where for hundreds of years the pattern of everyday life seemed to have remained largely unbroken. It also inspires a lot of social qualities. The feelings that the story mourned over are very universal and common in people during that time. All the family in the village ran a silkworm business. They were ran by their own family too because hiring people would cost more money. Family member was definitely the cheapest and safest human resource. Old T’ung Pao’s family was quite successful when he was young.

However, the phosphorous did not maintain after a generation. Yet, the structure and hardship of his family continued to mirror the rigidity of traditional Chinese society. They borrowed money to buy more mulberry trees for the silkworms. After they had sold the silk, they would repay part of the debt. There is never enough to cover the whole debt because the harvest was always worse than they expected. Even if they had a great harvest on the cocoons, there would not be enough people to spin the silk. They were never be able to get out of debt.

It is amazing how they managed to survive under such poor economy. Things such as predicting harvest by the amount of sprouts that a garlic put out, the way they isolated Lotus believing that she would bring bad luck to them just because her family had a bad harvest, and Huang’s interest in Taoism, they were all somehow reflection of Mao’s affection. Just around the same period of time, he has been encouraging the peasants for abandoning the worship of Gods and rejecting Buddhism. T’ung Pao hated the foreigners.

Since they brought in foreign goods in, in other words, they brough in competitions. The global power seemed to have shifted irrevocably from East to West since the Opium War in 1842, in a clash of cultures amid an atmosphere of ignorance and arrogance on both sides. Of course the Chinese believed themselves as the “good guys” and the British as “the bad guys. T’ung Pao and his village also possessed this skewed one-sided view on the foreigners just because their business was affected. His friend told him that Kuomingtang government was going to “throw out the foreign devils”.

However the Westerners only view it as a generally unequal conflict that was. Until now, although there is no more rejection of foreigners, people in China still call them “Ghosts” or “Red-head Green-eyes monsters” in just because it has been their habit for a hundred years. Mao Tung’s writing shows that literary platform is universal and national, and so as feelings. The author’s subject will only be the mediator of objective factors – a lens transforming the important objective facts – the life of the nation and of the whole mankind.

He asserted his adherence to realistic traditions. He used characters which was considered to be the principal constituent of a literary work and the most successful are those in whom unity of individual and general is reflected. “Spring Silkworms” reveals the feelings of the old Chinese, express their sorrows and hopes, to manifest the resolute resistance of how the Old T’ung Pao’s family against the challenge of an unknown fate. It could be said as an almost real life experience cross the time period.

However, one thing we could never learn about from his story is that it did not receive the appreciation it deserved. He expressed the complexity of seeing the world but forgot about mentioning his literature status. It would be no point in describing such matter as he always believed. They are subjective and not universal nature and as such cannot be transferred to others or made to intensively impress them. Sadly, the so-called personal trifles which are considered as not worth describing by Mao Tun, are believed to bear no relation whatsoever to life.

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