In The Crazed, what are Jian's motives for escaping at the end?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The Crazed is a 2002 novel by Chinese-American author Ha Jin. Elements of the novel are based on Ha Jin's own life.

Protagonist Jian Wan is a young Chinese student who becomes involved in the Beijing protests after his mentor, suffering from a stroke, reveals that everything he learned as a student is inconsequential, wrong, or propagandized by the government. Jian's understanding of the Chinese state is turned on its head, first by his mentor and then by reports of government brutality; eventually, he participates in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

At the end of the book, Jian comes to an epiphany: the name of revolution people acted on the basis of all kinds of personal interests and reasons. But our history books on the Communist revolution have always left out individuals' motives... it's personal interests that motivate the individual and therefore generate the dynamics of history.
(Jin, The Crazed, Google Books)

Jian's political indoctrination is in tatters; he has lost the narrow view of the world in which he was raised, and now wants to pursue his own interests instead of those of his contemporaries. His determination to escape is fueled by individual self-interest instead of China's state-controlled Communist interests. By releasing himself from the need to participate in protests just because everyone else does, Jian comes to a new appreciation of his own self-worth and decides to escape and begin anew rather than die for a cause he does not fully support.


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