In "The Destination" by Wang Anyi, how is one theme related to the Cultural Revolution and one theme about a more universal topic (such as love, family relationships, identity) developed in the story?

The story "Destination" by Wang Anyi tells of the cultural and personal conflicts that are a part of Shanghai, China after the Cultural Revolution. The author leads us to believe that Shanghai is more modernized than it actually is in reality. Chen Xin has lived in America for nine years and comes back to his hometown because he believes his family will help him become more acclimated to the rapidly changing world. He soon finds out that he was wrong about this assumption when he returns to Shanghai. Chen Xin's brother wants his room so that he can have a bigger house, however, Chen Xin does not want to move out of this room because it is where he grew up as a child.

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The fragmenting of familial loyalties after the Cultural Revolution is a major theme in Wang Anyi's story. Anyi develops this theme by first highlighting Chen Xin's initial feelings upon his return to Shanghai. In the story, Chen Xin is conflicted about his return because modern Shanghai continues to intimidate him; he finds Shanghai's "superiority and conceit intolerable." The Cultural Revolution obliterated millions of lives from China's major cities. The Red Guards terrorized entire populations into submission, claiming that their sole purpose was to erase bourgeoisie influence from the immediate culture. In this light, Chen Xin's sentiments upon his return to Shanghai are noteworthy.

Despite his discomfort, Chen Xin believes that his family will be a stabilizing force in his new life. However, his hopes are dashed when he finds himself embroiled in a delicate family conflict. Anyi continues to develop her theme by delineating the shift in familial allegiances that occurred during Chen Xin's absence and its effect on each member of the family. Chen Fang (Chen Xin's elder brother) and his wife hope to appropriate Chen Xin's twenty-two meter room for their own. In order for the "transfer" to happen, Chen Xin must marry a girl with a "room" of her own. If Chen Xin marries an impoverished girl, the two couples will have to share the room.

Chen Xin and Chen Fang's mother finds herself torn between her two beloved sons. The family introduces Chen Xin to a girl from a wealthy family, and everyone hints that they would like him to marry the girl. However, Chen Xin isn't the least bit attracted to the girl. His sister-in-law (Chen Fang's wife) chides him for being shallow. She argues that a man can't "live on attraction" alone. However, her ulterior motives soon come to light: she wants Chen Xin's room for her growing family. This bitter familial discord threatens to destroy the integrity of the family, but the surprising ending underlines another major theme in Anyi's story: the conflict between tradition and self-preservation in modern Chinese society. Although Chen Xin's self-preservation is instinctual, his loyalty to deep-seated Confucian ideals of loyalty is far stronger.

The ending is ambiguous, but Anyi gives us a glimpse into her protagonist's evolving mindset. Chen Xin strongly believes that he will have "no doubts, troubles, or sense of rootlessness" once he reaches his "true destination" in the future. In other words, there is strong indication that Chen Xin will find common ground between Confucian tradition and his emerging individualist tendencies.

Should he follow the new trend and equip himself with Western-style clothing, leather shoes, bell-bottom trousers and a cassette recorder...then find a sweetheart and get married...but would he find happiness if fashionable clothes concealed a heavy and miserable heart? If he married for the sake of getting married, and the wife he chose was not understanding, wouldn't he be adding a burden to his life?..A man's destination must be happiness, not misery...

Anyi develops both themes admirably by shining a spotlight on Chen Xin's internal conflicts, delineating both the fragility and integrity of familial allegiances, and characterizing Chen Xin's evolving mindset as a positive development.

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