Sex and Desire in Eileen Chang’s “Red Rose, White Rose”
Eileen Chang’s novella “Red Rose, White Rose” presents a love triangle between one man and two women, who struggle in the turbulent 1940s, a radically transitional period in China. The traditional lifestyle and morality upheld by the Chinese public for several generations were challenged by the importation of foreign civilization, a process accompanied by military and ideological tensions. Drawing upon the theory of Deleuze and Guattari, this article argues that the three main characters in the novella have difficulty in gratifying their multiple desires, which results from the crumbling of the old order represented by China’s traditional mindset defended by seniors, and from the absence of a reliable new order to be largely formulated in line with Western models. In this transitional age which confuses and suffocates the young Chinese generation, education fails to fulfill its role as a bridge connecting Chinese tradition and Western modernity, and it fails to emancipate young people – and females in particular – from an outdated mentality and lifestyle.
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