Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.
a. How does the narrator describe his feeling at the arrival of his old home?
➜ The narrator has many exciting and happy feelings regarding his old home before his arrival but his exciting feelings convert into depressing ones as he sees surroundings and environment which have no progress as he arrives.
b. What were the three kinds of servants in China then? What does it indicate about contemporary Chinese society?
➜ The then three kinds of servants in China were:
- Yearlongs: Those who work the whole year long for one family.
- Short-timers: Those who work in the daytime.
- Busy-monthers: Those who plough their own land but work for a specific family just during the holidays or rents time.
It indicates that contemporary Chinese society had a slavery system and hierarchy.
c. What makes the narrator nostalgic? What did he do with Runtu in the teenage?
➜ As the narrator’s mother asks him to meet Runtu, he becomes nostalgic. He played with Runtu on the sandy ground among watermelons and stabbing at the Zha in the teenage.
d. How did Runtu hunt a Zha in his young age?
➜ Runtu hunted a Zha by stabbing at it in his young age.
e. How does the narrator make a humorous picture of Mrs. Yang?
➜ The narrator makes a humorous picture of Mrs Yang by associating her as a bean curd lady who accuses him of being miserly for he does not want to give away his furniture to her.
f. According to the narrator, what were different factors that made Runtu a poor man throughout his life?
➜ According to the narrator, the different factors that made Runtu a poor man throughout his life were the heavy taxes, social responsibilities, famines, bandits, officials, landed gentry and class differences that he went through.
g. How does the narrator help Runtu before leaving the old home?
➜ The narrator helps Runtu by providing him with two long tables, an incense burner, some candlesticks, and a set of scales before leaving the old home.
h. How does the author differentiate two kinds of idols?
➜ The author differentiates two kinds of idols saying that a “superstitious idol” is worshipping for a while for something immediate but “hope” as not an idol that he wants somewhere far off in the murky distance.
Reference to the Context
a. While reading the friendship between the narrator and Runtu, Hindu readers remember the friendship between Krishna and Sudama. Which particular description reminds you of the mythological example?
➜ While reading the friendship between the narrator and Runtu, Hindu readers remember the friendship between Krishna and Sudama. Following descriptions of the story “My Old Home” remind us of the mythological connections:
- Sudama was Lord Krishna’s classmate and a very intimate friend. Lord Krishna was a King. Sudama was an impoverished poor Brahmin. The same case is found in the friendship and relationship between Lu Xun and Runtu the former is from the rich and upper class as master and the latter one is very poor.
- Sudama felt very shy when he visited Krishna same as Runtu felt ashamed and nervous as he meet his friend and master Lu Xun
- Sudama was helped by Krishna at the end and in the same way, Runtu was helped by Lu Xun by providing several kitchen things at the end.
Both of the stories teach us the message that we should never expect anything free in life and a friend in need is a friend indeed.
b. How does the story support the proposition that the relationships of childhood are innocent, impartial and disinterested?
➜ The story “My Old Home” supports the proposition that relationships of childhood are innocent, impartial and disinterested. As we go through the story, we come to know that the narrator, Lu Xun and Runtu had a childhood friendship when there were no class differences rather an innocent relationship found between them.
The notion of innocence refers to children’s simplicity, their lack of knowledge, and their purity not yet spoiled by mundane (boring) affairs. Such innocence is taken as the promise of a renewal of the world by the children. The same innocence can be realised as they were children and they used to pass the time together by stabbing Zha, badger and porcupines. They run here and there in the field of watermelon. They had a master and part-time worker relationships. They had no any selfishness behaviour. Their friendship and relation were pure, impartial and disinterested. The same relations the narrator hopes to see in his nephew and Runtu’s son.
c. After reading the story, what inferences can you make about contemporary Chinese economic and social system?
➜ After reading the story “My Old Home”, we can make the following inferences about contemporary Chinese economic and social system:
- The story portrays the complex relationships in the peasant community in China’s society at the time.
- It mentions about the real physical sufferings of the peasants resulted from economic exploitation and exposes the root causes of their miserable lives.
- It exposes how miserable the peasants’ mentality was after they have been long poisoned by feudal ideas.
- For instance, Runtu is an unforgettable and pathetic person who suffered much from hard work and sub-marginal living.
- It makes people clear about the class system, slavery system and hierarchy in China presenting three kinds of servants in China such as Yearlongs: those who work the whole year long for one family, Short-timers: those who work by the day time and Busy-monthers: those who plough their own land but work for a specific family just during the holidays or rents time.
- Above all, society dictates, disallowing them to be friend. People from different classes cannot interact and develop mutual relations. They have to fulfil their roles at certain positions.
d. What does the story indicate about the geographical features of the narrator’s hometown?
➜ Geographically, the story “My Old Home” has been set in 1911 during the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in the hometown of the narrator. It was in the depth of winter when the story opens and the clouded sky over with the cold wind. The narrator peeps through the window in a distant horizon, towns and villages under a vast and greying sky. The area the narrator remembered was far more lovely. His hometown was probably nothing more than what lay before him. Then, the narrator talks about his visit to his farm which was under a blue-black sky, beneath it a stretch of sandy ground planted with emerald green watermelons stretching as far as the eye could see, and standing in the midst of all those melons and then about New YearCelebrations. He also talks about collecting shells near the beach, visiting the seashore just before spring tides and nighttime guarding the farm along with his father and catching birds and stabbing animals like badgers, porcupines etc.
Reference beyond the text
a. Human beings are on the road from time immemorial, always migrating to new places. Write an essay on The Trend of Migration in Nepal in about 300 words.
➜ The Trend of Migration in Nepal
Nepal is a country where developments, employments and industrial growth are limited, making land the most economic asset.
The population in the mountain regions of Nepal has exceeded the carrying capacity of the land. Therefore, people are moving to the more arable lands of the Terai. It is estimated that 40% of Nepal’s population is concentrated in the hill and mountain regions, while 60% of farmland is in the Terai
There are basically two factors for rural to urban migration in Nepal, the Pull factor and the Push factor. Opportunities for employment, physical facilities, entertainment facilities, better future, secure life, social respect etc. are the pull factors. On the other hand, hardships, poverty, unemployment, lack of facilities etc. are the pull factors.
Besides, survival, resources, demand and supply, religion, and economy are the factors responsible for intellectual migration. In the context of Nepal, many people from Himalayan and hilly regions migrate to Terai for better opportunities, employment, and trades. Some people leave the for settlement as well. Internal migration is widely found in the country.
b. Find one of your relatives or friends, who has migrated to a new place leaving his/her old home. Talk to him/her and prepare a report on what he/she felt while leaving the old home.
➜ My Uncle and Aunt along with her two children and his parents have recently migrated to the capital city Kathmandu from a remote village as he bought a beautiful house there.
According to my conversation with him, the Uncle returned home after ten years from the city. He collected things necessary and sold the furniture and donated something to his neighbours. Uncle distributed some kitchen things to his neighbours as well. He had nostalgia for his villagers. He missed his childhood days enjoyed with his friends and the places where he had fun with his near and dear ones. He found his relatives were standing at his gate at the time of departure. They looked sad. They were looking at Uncle and his family members curiously. All of them said ‘farewell’ to him. He said ‘goodbye’ to all of them and left his old home.