Summary of My Old Home: Theme & Exercise

My Old Home by Lu Shun Summary

Summary of My Old Home: Theme & Exercise


Summary 

My Old Home’ is a story about Xun’s memories, from youth to middle age that depicts the conflict between memories and realities. The story describes how Xun feels while being away from home for many years. Upon arriving at his long-past home, his memories are forced to come to confront with the realities. His prior conceptions and understandings of the world come into conflict with his realities.

Main Summary

The story "My Old Home" is set in the narrator's childhood town in China. The narrator returns to his childhood home and experiences various flashbacks from his youth. He recalls a brief relationship with his family's part-time laborer's kid, "Jun-tu". He re-meets his forgotten neighbors. The narrator and his mother are selling their stuff since they are relocating. Their departure left the narrator's recollections behind.

It's been so long since the narrator has seen his family that his recollections have been clouded by visions of glitz, beauty, and respectability that he grew up among. When he returned to his childhood home, his memories were forced to confront the reality, which shocked his preconceived notions about the universe. "Ah!" said the storyteller. Standing in front of an old, run-down house, he asked himself, "Surely this was not the old home I had recalled for the previous twenty years?". 

The house's former, perceived grandeur was obscured by weather and people alike, and could only be seen with the imagination. With his mind made up, he tried to convince himself that "this was how my home had always been and although it had not improved, it was not so depressing as imagined; it was only my mood that had changed because he was coming back to the country without fusions" to rationalise the discrepancy between his memory and what was in front of him. His memories had fooled him regardless of what he tried to convince himself. 

His boyhood house had become a beautiful structure that it had never been, only to be destroyed for re-evaluation along with the other false memories that had been incorporated into the gorgeous illusions. Running back to town to meet Runtu was the next surprise after seeing his old house for the first time in almost a decade. The narrator hadn't seen Runtu in thirty years, and his recollections of him were hazy at first. "A weird image suddenly flashed into his head," after he paused for a minute. The narrator's head was full of stories that had matured with the passage of time. He was stuffed with all the wonderful details he remembered about his boyhood buddy Runtu, who had lived on the seashore. His tales were like sugary candies to a kid because they were so perfect in every aspect. 

Runtu had long been on his mind, and the narrator couldn't stand waiting any longer to reacquaint/remember himself with him. With great excitement, the narrator welcomed his much-anticipated arrival. Runtu stood there, his beautiful lips moving in a mixture of happiness and sorrow, but he did not say anything. Finally, in a reverent tone, he said, "Master!". Once again, the narrator's recollections had fooled him. This prompted the narrator to reexamine his relationship with Runtu. Had they not spent time together as children, playing games and exchanging stories? 

The narrator had trouble understanding the concept of social status as a kid. Because of his naivety as a kid, he looked back on their time together as a friendship. This recollection improved and improved until it met all the criteria. He had assumed their relationship was great. The narrator's early life was tragically cut short due to his father's infidelity. It turned out that his home was not what it appeared. Runtu, on the other hand, was a spoiled brat who had made a career out of being by the water. This person's recollections misled the narrator by distorting reality and blurring lines between social classes. A gap had opened up between the narrator and Runtu, his recollections, and the reality. 

Unpredictability in the mind of the storyteller and the mind alters the past, praises it in order to exalt the person. Running into his recollections and his history in an unexpected manner. A character who declares himself to be from a lower socioeconomic level before his friend/narrator demonstrates classicism His recollections had served as a shield, allowing him to separate himself from the injustices that Chinese society imposed on him. He could only see the truth about China after facing his memories and finding the reality hidden underneath them. In the end, the narra Set and his family departed Runtu with a few household items before returning to their new home in town.

Subjects of The Story

  • Memories and friendship

  • Nostalgia

  • Ancient Chinese Poverty

  • Discordance between what people remember and what they really experienced

Analysis

This story is about Lu Shun's recollections, from childhood to old age, and the hostility/conflict caused by the illusions he has when his memories clash with the truth. The story follows Lu Hsun, a young master who returns home to see his mother and nephew. 

He quickly remembers his youth, spent with his closest friend and servant, Jun-Tu. Lu Hsun reconciles with his family, including a neighbour, Mrs Yang.

Unexpectedly, Jun Tu, cautious from his hard life at sea, pays a surprise visit to Lu Hsun's house. 

What happens when geography, time, and societal barriers prevent them from becoming friends? Throughout the story, the narrator recalls previous events in this house. Many things have changed and are not what the narrator anticipated when he returns as an adult. 

For example, when the narrator comes home, Jun-tu behaves as if the narrator is his master and has a higher status than him. The narrator's childhood home was a metaphor in this story. The house is a symbol because it symbolizes the narrator's "old" recollections. 

Since the family is departing, the narrator will be reminded of the memories associated with the home. The home represents growing up and moving on in life.

In conclusion, the story teaches us the important message about moving on and leaving the past behind. The narrator, Hung-erh, and his mother are on the boat departing their home at the conclusion of the story. As he departed, he realized he was leaving behind memories and even his former house.

Theme

The author is telling the audience that being kind to others keeps them off the treadmill. 

In a friendship, one must learn to put the other first. 

Hsun also stresses the value of loyalty. Other themes include respect, filial piety, and societal obstacles that prevent cross-class friendships.

The story's most obvious friendship is between friends. 

Lu Hsun and Jun-Tu closeness is also trying to follow Confucian ideal friendship. 

Jun-Tu taught Lu Hsun many things about the outside world, and Lu Hsun was one of the few individuals Jun-Tu could trust. 

They grew inseparable as they acted like brothers. There was a master-servant relationship between them. It was a un breakable bond, connection, mutual, reciprocal relation.

After a while, Jun-Tu understands they can't be friends. 

He realizes that one's function is determined by one's social standing. 

So he respects Lu Hsun as a master and gives him little presents. 

This is a ruler-subject relationship.

My Old home : Glossary 

li (n.): traditional Chinese unit of distance measuring 1,640 feet

rationalize (v.): attempt to explain or justify with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate

sacrificial vessels (n.): originally a cauldron for cooking and storing meat. The Shang prototype has a round bowl, set on three legs with two short handles on each side

intercalary (n): a day or month inserted in the calendar to harmonize the solar calendar like 29 February.

talisman (n.): an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, which is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck

hedgehog (n.): a small nocturnal Old World mammal with a spiny coat and short legs, able to roll itself into a ball for defence

Concubine (n.): mistress; woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives

treadmill (adj.): monotonous or wearisome, giving no satisfaction

stupefied (adj.): astonished

flabbergasted (ad.): feeling or showing intense shock, surprise, or wonder

About Author of My old Home: Lu Shun

Lu Xun (1881-1936) is the pen name of the writer born as Zhou Shuren. He was born to a family with a strong Confucian background.  His grandfather served as a high official in Beijing, and his father was also a scholar. Lu Xun has been considered China's greatest writer in the 20th century. 

He was a short story writer, essayist, and translator who is commonly considered the ‘father of modern Chinese literature.’ Known for his satirical observations of early 20th-century Chinese society, he is celebrated as a pioneer of modern vernacular Chinese literature and was one of the most important thinkers of his time. 

His popular novels and short story collections include A Madman's Diary (1918), Kong Yiji (1918), Medicine (1919), Tomorrow (1920), An Incident (1920), The Story of Hair (1920), A Storm in a Teacup (1920), Hometown (1921). The story ‘My Old Home’ is taken from the short story collection Hometown.

My Old Home By Lu Xun

Genre – Autobiographical :

‘My Old Home’ is a story about Xun’s memories, from youth to middle age that depicts the conflict between memories and realities. The story describes how Xun feels while being away from home for many years. Upon arriving at his long-past home, his memories are forced to come to confront the realities. His prior conceptions and understandings of the world come into conflict with his realities.

Setting:

The story took place during the late 19th century in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, China.

Characters:

Lu Hsun:  The young master who moved out from his old home in order to buy a new home. During his childhood, he befriends Jun-Tu, a servant, and is fascinated by the stories the latter tells. In order to buy more furniture for the new home, he insists his mother sell the old ones from the old house. He is considered miserly for he does not want to give away the furniture to the poor.

Jun Tu: A shy yet “high in spirits” servant who used to work for Lu Hsun. His home was near the sea. He soon goes back to his hometown and experiences a rough life. Having man kids, famine and social responsibilities causes him to be wary. He acts as an acquaintance rather than a friend to Lu Hsun when both of them reconciles after 30 years.

Mrs. Yang:  A neighbour who sits in a bean curd shop opposite from Lu Hsun’s old home. She is one of the poor who visits Lu Hsun’s home and always leaves with a piece of furniture (without paying for it) owned by his family.

Hung erh: Lu Hsun’s shy nephew. He soon befriends with Shu Sheng.

Shu Sheng – The 5th son of Jun-Tu. He is very shy and rarely interacts in social occasions. However, he soon opens up towards Hung erh, even inviting the latter to visit his home some day.

Summary

The story "My Old Home" is set in the narrator's childhood town in China. The narrator returns to his childhood home and experiences various flashbacks from his youth. He recalls a brief relationship with his family's part-time laborer's kid, "Jun-tu". 

He re-meets his forgotten neighbors. The narrator and his mother are selling their stuff since they are relocating. Their departure left the narrator's recollections behind.

The story follows Lu Hsun, a young master who returns home to see his mother and nephew.  He quickly remembers his youth, spent with his closest friend and servant, Jun-Tu.  Lu Hsun reconciles with his family, including a neighbour, Mrs. Yang.

Unexpectedly, Jun Tu, cautious from his hard life at sea, pays a surprise visit to Lu Hsun's house.  What happens when geography, time, and societal barriers prevent them from becoming friends? Throughout the story, the narrator recalls previous events in this house. 

Many things have changed and are not what the narrator anticipated when he returns as an adult.  For example, when the narrator comes home, Jun-tu behaves as if the narrator is his master and has a higher status than him. 

The narrator's childhood home was a metaphor in this story. The house is a symbol because it symbolizes the narrator's "old" recollections.  Since the family is departing, the narrator will be reminded of the memories associated with the home. The home represents growing up and moving on in life.

In conclusion, the story teaches us the important message about moving on and leaving the past behind. The narrator, Hung-erh, and his mother are on the boat departing their home at the conclusion of the story. As he departed, he realized he was leaving behind memories and even his former house.

Plot:

The story follows Lu Hsun, a young master who visits back to his old home and is greeted by his mother and nephew. He soon recalls the memories of his childhood, the time he shared with his best friend and servant, Jun-Tu. Lu Hsun reconciles with his relatives including Mrs. Yang, a neighbour who accuses him of being miserly. Unexpectedly, Jun Tu, who has now grown all wary from his tough life at sea, pas a visit to Lu Hsun’s home. What will become of the two when distance, time and social barrier restrict them from being friends again?

Theme:

The author is trying to tell the audience that being humane towards others prevents a treadmill existence. In a friend and friend relationship, one mst learn how to put his comrade first. Hsun also highlights the importance of loyalty. Other themes include respect, filial piety and social barriers that stop people from different classes to befriend.

Friend and Friend is the most evident relationship in the story. The friendship that once existed between Lu Hsun and Jun-Tu is a perfect example of Confucian ideal friendship. Lu Hsun learnt many things about the outside world form Jun-Tu while Lu Hsun was one of the very few people who Jun-Tu can open up to. These two soon became inseparable for they treated each other like brothers. Their relationship went beyond a master and servant relationship. It was something mutual, reciprocal and relationship.

However as time passes, Jun-Tu realizes that they can no longer be friends. He clearly understands that one must fulfil his role depending on his social positions. Thus, he treats Lu Hsun as a master by paying ultimate respect and offering the slightest gifts towards Lu Hsun. This is an example of a ruler and subject relationship.

Glossary

li (n.): traditional Chinese unit of distance measuring 1,640 feet

rationalize (v.): attempt to explain or justify with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate

sacrificial vessels (n.): originally a cauldron for cooking and storing meat. The Shang prototype has a round bowl, set on three legs with two short handles on each side

intercalary (n): a day or month inserted in the calendar to harmonize the solar calendar like 29 February

talisman (n.): an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, which is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck

hedgehog (n.): a small nocturnal Old World mammal with a spiny coat and short legs, able to roll itself into a ball for defence

Concubine (n.): mistress; woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives

treadmill (adj.): monotonous or wearisome, giving no satisfaction

stupefied (adj.): astonished

flabbergasted (ad.): Shocked

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