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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 205

The True Story of Ah Q is a novella by Lu Xun, written in episodic serial format. When writing your own piece about the story, you’ll likely start with the main character, Ah Q, who is an uneducated peasant. He doesn’t even have a specific occupation. An interesting aspect of the story that you can write about is how Lu Xun always finds a way to convince himself that he’s won every fight he’s in, even if he has clearly lost.

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A frequently cited example you can use occurs in chapter 2. In this chapter, he gambles outside of a theater, and someone beats him up and steals his silver. Then, he hits himself on the face and reasons that he ultimately won the fight, because he was the one doing the hitting.

There are many such episodes like this, such as when he blames his problems on a nun and harasses her in order to make himself feel like he is winning. Eventually, he is blamed for a looting that he was going to join in order to pretend he was part of a great revolution but instead misses due to oversleeping. He is sentenced to death after taking the blame.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 771

This book relates events in the last year of the life of Ah Q, a village idler and odd-jobber in the Chinese village of Weichuang. The unnamed narrator gives the reader a satirical first-person perspective on the shortcomings of the Chinese national character as mirrored in Ah Q and his fellow villagers. The story also provides a commentary on the state of the revolution which had occurred in 1911 and had supposedly done away with the feudal elements of society.

After confessing himself to be unable to ascertain Ah Q’s surname, personal name (thus he is called Ah Q in lieu of a correct name), or place of origin, the narrator gives a series of vignettes showing Ah Q and his relations with his fellow villagers. It is immediately apparent that Ah Q lives in a world of self-deception. He frequently gets into quarrels with village idlers and is invariably bested by them, the disputes ending with Ah Q having his head knocked against a wall five or six times. He additionally obliges his enemies by calling himself an insect and a beast. Ah Q nevertheless manages to rationalize these defeats into victories by claiming moral or psychological superiority over his opponents.

His relations with the more influential villagers are no more amicable. Mr. Chao, whose son has just taken his bachelor’s degree, despises Ah Q as a no-good and slaps his face upon learning that Ah Q has been bragging that he is related to the Chao clan. Ah Q himself hates the “Imitation Foreign Devil,” a student who has just returned from Japan and wears foreign dress. Apparently, Ah Q is even more disturbed by the fact that this person is wearing a false pigtail than he is about the young man’s selling out to foreign ways.

One day, Ah Q encounters a young Buddhist nun in the street and proceeds to tease her unmercifully, pinching her cheek and taunting her about monk-nun relationships. This draws laughs from onlookers but also precipitates feelings in Ah Q about sex which eventually impel him to make an indecent proposal to Amah Wu, the servant of Mr. Chao. Amah Wu, a chaste widow, is completely flustered, and Mr. Chao severely punishes Ah Q and has him pay damages. The consequence is that women now avoid him, the wine shop refuses him credit, and no one will hire him. Hungry, he wanders out of the village and eventually arrives at the Buddhist convent, where he steals turnips from the garden. He is chased away by...

(The entire section contains 976 words.)

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