Thursday, May 26, 2011

一件小事 One Small Matter by 鲁迅 LuXun

This story is called 一件小事  One Small Matter and was written by 鲁迅 LuXun.
This story is about a official who has witnessed countless past events throughout the country's history, but is only touched by one small one. One morning while going to work, he witnesses the kindness of the driver of the rickshaw he is riding, despite the fact that the woman who they "hit" was faking her injuries. From this event he ultimately questions his place and teachings after comparing himself to the rickshaw driver.

I originally got this off of the website:
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一件小事 by 鲁迅
A Small Matter by LuXun
I escaped from the country to the capital, in the blink of an eye; it’s already been 6 years since then.

During this time, I have heard and witnessed all of the country’s biggest events. There a lot of them, but in my heart, there are no traces left. If perhaps I were to uncover these matters’ influence upon me further, my bad temper would only increase. Honestly, these years have taught me from day to day to look down on people.

  However, there is one small thing that has significance to me, which drags my bad temper on. So far, to this day I have not forgotten it.

This was during the winter of the Republic’s six year, when the winds from the north blew fierce. Because of my living, I had no choice but to walk the road during the early morning. 

On the road I hardly met anyone. With great difficulty, I managed to hire a rickshaw and tell him to go to S gate. After a moment, the northern wind blew. The dirt from the road floated up for a long time and was wiped clean by the wind, the only thing left was a spotlessly white main street. The driver ran faster.

Right near the S gate, our rickshaw suddenly hooked someone on the handle bars and they slowly fell down.

The person who fell was a white haired woman with ragged clothing.

She suddenly faced the direction of our cart, blocking our way as she came over. The driver had already moved out of the way, but her tattered vest wasn't buttoned and caught on the handlebars when blown open by the wind.

Fortunately, the driver had slowed a little, otherwise she would have been flipped over so that she hit her head.

She was lying on the ground, the driver also came to a stop.

I knew that this woman was unhurt, and that no one else had seen. What was even stranger was that he caused more problems by getting involved and delayed me on my journey. 

I said to him, “This is nothing. Go on!”

The cart driver hardly paid attention to me, furthermore he might have not even heard me. He put down the small cart and helped the old woman up slowly. He supported her shoulder and set her firm on her feet, asking her:

    “How are you?”

    “I think I broke something.”

I thought, I saw her fall slowly to the ground, how can you break something? She’s faking it, that's all. I really hate things like this.  The rickshaw driver is being meddlesome, so he’s asking for trouble by doing this. Now he needs to think of a way out of this himself.

After hearing what the old woman said, he hardly hesitated, still helping her up by the arm and guiding her to step one by one forward.

I was a little flabbergasted, I quickly looked forward, and saw a little police station building. After the big gust of wind that blew, I didn't see any people on the outside of it. 

The rickshaw driver supported the old woman, and walked towards the big gate.  

Suddenly, I began to have a peculiar feeling. I thought about how his back was covered all over in the dust from the wind, and in a wink of the eye he looked tall. Furthermore, the more he walked the bigger he looked. I had to face upwards and look on with respect just then.

In addition my regards toward him, gradually turned into a kind of power pressing down upon me. So much that I would go as far as to extract my leather wallet hiding below and bring it out.

At this time, my energy seemed to stagnate a little, and all I could do was sit without moving. I couldn't even think at all, until a policeman came out from the building and came down by the cart. 

The police officer walked close before me and said, “You should order another rickshaw, and he cannot take you.”

I didn't think any deeper and took out a large coin from my pouch in my jacket pocket. I gave it to the policeman, and said, “Please give this to him……”as the wind came to a halt. The street was still very calm.

I walked thinking, but almost afraid to really think about myself.

What happened before was temporarily put aside, what is the meaning of this big copper coin? A prize for him?

Do I even have the ability to judge the rickshaw man? I couldn't answer my own question.

   This matter I still recall to this day often.

Thus I try to reduce the pain, and with great effort try to think about myself.

With all the language control and military force I gained in these past years, I can’t recite any of the Confucian sayings I had learned as a child. “Confucius’s poem” says in general reciting from memory is not enough.

This trifling matter only however, is always floating in front of my eyes. Sometimes taking place vividly, teaching me to be ashamed, urging me to renew myself, and to grow my courage and hopes.


  □注释  (Marginal notes)


*I liked reading this story, and I thought that the conclusion that the narrator comes to in the end is an interesting one. The narrator realizes that the woman is faking her injuries, and wonders why the rickshaw cart driver is stupid enough to help her. He gets angry at things like this, but then realizes in the end that the rickshaw driver is actually a better "confucian" then him. We can infer that the narrator is a ranking governmental official, and that he obviously has had training in confucianism because of his rank. Confucianism teaches concepts that tell us to aid others in need no matter how small the matter, which the rickshaw driver does while the official just wants to leave as quick as possible. This realization scares the narrator and causes him to not want to look at his own inner self. At the end he realizes that in order to actually follow what that he has been taught and forgotten after all these years he needs to renew himself and take a look at who he really is on the inside and make an attempt to change. 

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