Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 216

The themes in The True Story of Ah Q by Lu Xun definitely have a political bent to them, but they also have appeal to deeper human ideas about truth and deception. In particular, the series of stories in the book are about the old Chinese way of thinking that led to the Chinese revolution in 1911 that introduced a republic.

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The character of Ah Q tends to never admit that he has ever lost, even when he does. This is about criticizing the old Chinese character for pretending to always be victorious, even when falling behind the West badly in terms of power and wealth.

Another episode you could write about in your assignment related to theme is at the end of the book when Ah Q is caught up in a robbery that he plans to be a part of, but sleeps through. He tells himself that it’s a revolution when it isn’t. Eventually, he’s blamed for it, even though he didn’t even participate. This connects right to the theme of the 1911 Revolution in China. In other words, the Revolution barely changed anything, and it was more a robbery than just a political uprising. The uneducated were caught up in it but didn’t really understand what was happening as well.

Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 516

The True Story of Ah Q is concerned with the shortcomings of the Chinese national character and the deplorable state of the 1911 revolution, which toppled the old dynasty and introduced the Republic. Lu Hsun believed that the people in general were unaware, uncritical, and tied to an outmoded past. Their fatalism, backwardness, and rationalization of defeat all hampered China’s ability to compete with the West. Ah Q’s last thought, marking his growing awareness, is that the crowd is like a wolf, its eyes boring into him and hungering for his death. It is an ambiguous symbol, for this same unthinking and lethal crowd (the masses), if awakened, could accomplish great work.

By December, 1921, when The True Story of Ah Q was completed, Lu Hsun had noted the failure of the revolution. In the novel, when the revolutionaries arrive, evidently nothing has changed. Indeed, the revolutionaries ally themselves with the local gentry. Some titles have changed, but the same people are still officials. A revolution has occurred, but the people have been barred from it—even dim-witted Ah Q notices this, and thinks that since a revolution has occurred, it should have involved something more. The uneducated masses did not understand what was taking place, and their awakening was apparently yet to come. Meanwhile, the educated were managing to accommodate themselves and the revolutionaries were engaged in non-revolutionary activity. For Lu Hsun, the revolution effected no real change.

The author was attracted to nineteenth century Russian Romantic concepts of literature,...

(The entire section contains 732 words.)

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