Farewell My Concubine Topics for Further Study
by Lillian Lee

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Read a first-person account from a Chinese man or woman who lived through the years of Mao’s rule in China. Compare this person’s experience with the experience of the main characters in Farewell My Concubine. Discuss what it must have been like to be alive in China during this time.

Find another modern society from the past 100 years that experienced the same type of oppressive rule that citizens in China faced in the twentieth century. Research the particulars of this oppression, imagine that you are a citizen in this other society, and write a journal entry depicting what life is like during a typical day in your life.

Research other art forms prevalent in China, specifically in Peking (modern day Beijing), during the time period when the book takes place. Choose an art form and a specific artist within this genre. Write a biography about this person, noting any challenges the artist faced due to the social situation in China at the time.

Research the interactions other countries had with China in the last half of the twentieth century. Choose five countries and plot them on a chart, including the country’s name, political orientation, interactions with China, and reasons for these interactions. Discuss any common themes you find, and, if possible, pose a reason for these similarities.

Watch the film version of Farewell My Concubine and compare it to the novel. Write a magazine-style review that includes your observations, including your opinion on whether the book deserves to receive less attention than the film, as has been the case thus far.