Formal Analysis is a kind of visual description that explains the visual structure of the manner in which particular visual elements are arranged and their role within a composition. Gao Xingjian’s Short Story “The Accident” is about an accident that happened on the Chinese streets in the front of a radio repairs shop. When one man on a bicycle was headed to a bus the driver began stepping on his breaks. However, the bus did not stop and the result was a tragic accident where the man on the bicycle was knocked down. Witnesses recounted that the man upon realizing that the bus was headed on his way pushed the baby carriage out of the bicycle. He died on the spot upon being hit by the bus but the baby was found safe and sound (Xingjian 1377-1379).
People who had not witnessed the accident started asking themselves questions such as: “Why didn’t the child save his father by pushing him out of the way” (Xingjian 1379-1382). However, the truth of the matter was that the child was too young to attempt such a feat. The busybodies who did not witness the accident were just but quick to judge without getting a full account of the accident. After the accident soil was placed over the blood by police officers, this was later washed away by the street cleaners and people continued with their lives oblivious of the life shattering event that had occurred.
Throughout the story the accident as is with his painting “the Oblivion” Xingjian was basically stating a sequence of events even as they occurred. He did not make any statement or passing across any particular message through the story because as he asserts there is no need for humanity “to turn life’s tragic accidents into statistics …for this is a job of the traffic safety department” (Xingjian 1384).
He was essentially connecting an accident’s events that occurred outside a radio repair shop. It is possible to conclude that Xingjian was attempting to make use of this story in order to define his writing. He did not want to come out with a formal statement or create a disturbance in government. He just wanted to describe things in black and white as is with his painting “the Oblivion” where he states in a Harvard interview that” where words fail paintings begin” and let people draw conclusions from the events themselves. Through his painting and art work, “the Oblivion” Gao tries to depict the socio-cultural transformations in the society. The picture is just as ugly as the events in the accident are but as much as it is ugly people just have a look at it, some critic the artist on what he should have done and then move on with their lives. It is therefore important to note that literature and other literacy writing play a significant role in identifying the social and cultural values that are rooted in our communities (Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature Web).
Similarly in “buying fishing rod for my grandfather” a man in his middle ages after the Cultural Revolution wishes to reconnect with his aging grandfather in a self nostalgic trip. He envisions himself making a visit to his home town only to realize he has forgotten about how the place looked like. The whole place is completely physically transformed that he can only make his way out through an old local temple. Upon flashing back on how he went fishing with his grandfather he buys him a fancy fiberglass fishing rod which replaces his old fishing rod that the narrator broke when he was young. A world cup football match that the narrator could be watching unfolds as young women culturally liberated and thus scantily dressed seek his attention (Xingjian 45).
“You are walking on rocks that already been smoothened and rounded up by the river, as you jump from one rock to the other you can almost see the clear current. However, when the mountain floods came an expanse of muddy water spread into the city” (Xingjian 61). What was clear in the past has been clouded in every aspect both physically and culturally. In particular, the narrator identifies the lake where he and the grandfather often fished together as no more with creeks of dry valley as the only living evidence of the old prestigious lake that provided a source of living to many (Xingjian 79).
The traditional values and heritage that were at one time held in high esteem have been lost to modernity. Just like the “the Oblivion” painting, they remain an ugly and pale shadow of their former selves. People can only speak about them like news. In the same manner, they dehumanized the old man who was knocked down by the bus into a piece of news they have reduced their once revered culture into a piece of news. Their life continues oblivious of these changes.
Xingjian, Gao. Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather (Fast Fiction). HarperCollins Publishers, (2011): 1377-1384. Print.
Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature, Part2: Faulkner-Kipling. Detroit: Thomson Gale, (2007). Web.
Xingjian, Gao. “The Accident.” The Story and its Writer (7th Ed). Ed… Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, (2007): 45-79. Print.
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