Family

The Confucian Struggles of Three Brothers

Throughout time, succeeding generations have rebelled against the values and traditions of their parents and grandparents. This continual pattern of insurgence is the key theme of Pa Chin's Family, in which the new generation of "enlightened" students fights against the "antiquated" Confucian values of their elders. In the Kao family, three brothers - similar in their dislike of the traditional Confucian system of their grandfather, yet very different in their interactions with him and others - begin to throw off the heavy mantle of Confucianism and strive for a breath of freedom. Their struggles against the old values lead to pain, suffering and eventually triumph for the three of them, yet at a bitter price for two brothers.

The story of the first brother, Chueh-hsin, is undoubtedly the saddest in this novel. Cheuh-hsin has lived his entire life in respect and constant compliance with his elders. Although he is an "enlightened" person and does not wholeheartedly agree with many of the Confucian values which he follows, he feels that his position in the social hierarchy of the family leaves him no other choice. As the "first son of the first son" he is the head of his household and as...

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