Defiance: Chen's Journey
In Colors of the Mountain, a memoir by Da Chen, Chen tells the story of his arduous life in a Chinese village during the Cultural Revolution. He is humiliated and belittled by his neighbors and government because he is the grandson of a landlord. This label, a negative one in communist China, made it difficult if not impossible for Chen and his family to live a normal life. Under this pressure, he could have easily fulfilled the role of being the grandson of a landlord, thus giving up his dreams of becoming a college man in the process. Yet his resilience is remarkable. Chen does not let the villagers' insolent behavior or the communist government preside over his life. Even though Chen's mother taught her children “to be quiet, stay out of trouble, and wait for better days” (4), Chen chose to fight. His defiance ultimately led to his rise.
During the Cultural Revolution, Chen and his family were stripped of everything they owned because his grandfather was a landlord. In China, landlords were considered part of the bourgeoisie culture, which divided the class struggle between poor and rich. Mao ensured that the bourgeoisie were to be deprived of all their property for the benefit of thousands of poor farmers. So landlords would be mistreated and humiliated. In Chen's case, many villagers degraded the Chen family by “throwing stones at [them], making ugly faces, and calling [them] names” (4). They were ostracized from the rest of the community because of their status. Nonetheless, Chen would sneak out, even though he had to always stay alert, when wandering off to the river or to just simply stare at the sky.
Not only was Chen victimized by his neighbors, but by his classmates and teachers as well. Chen persevered in school. He always performed well on exams and became the class monitor. However, once the Cultural Revolution began, teachers were ordered to use new teaching methods. His new teachers began treating...