Jail Without Bars Raise The
Red Lantern Essay, Research Paper
Some people are trapped in the prison of their own lives. The bars can consist of many things that hold these people from their full potential. Many of these restrictions come from social standards, stereotypes, prejudices, or poverty. It’s hard to break away from these cycles, but it is possible. It takes enormous strength and courage which these characters did not have. Even though they did not succeed we can learn from their mistakes.
Songlian decided to marry into wealth in “Raise the Red Lantern.” She felt that it was worth giving up personal freedoms to live an upper class lifestyle. Songlian was entrapped at her masters estate and was forced to follow family traditions that were handed down through centuries.
She is the fourth mistress to the master. The sisters, or fellow mistresses, constantly competed for his attention. He would only stay at one house a night and that wife’s lanterns would be lit in honor. The mistress that was privileged with the masters visit had more power with the estate staff and chose dinner for the entire family.
The need for attention led to violent behavior among the family. Before Songlian joined the family Zhuayun, the second mistress, and Meishan, the third mistress, were both pregnant at the same time. Both women were trying to have their baby first so they would have a higher status in the family. Zhuayun put poison in Meishan’s food trying to cause her to have a miscarriage. At the same time she took medicine that would speed up her delivery. Meishan did not have a miscarriage, but gave the master a son and a future head of the family. While an ashamed Zhuayun gave birth to a girl that would have no future family status. Zhuayun also helped Yon’er, a servent, place a curse on on Songlian out of jealousy. While Songlian was drunk she let the family know of Meishan’s secret affair with the doctor. When Meishan was caught in town with the doctor she was hung by the servants due to family tradition.
Krishma is a young boy trying to make it on his own in “Salaam Bombay!” He was dropped off at the circus by his mother for burning his brother’s bike. He was to stay there until he could earn enough money to pay his brother back. While Krishma went to town to pick up something for his boss the circus packed up and left. With no other choice available he bought a ticket to Bombay.
Bombay had little hope to offer Krishma. He met several new friends that also lived on the streets of Bombay. Working for a local vendor selling tea he slowly earned money towards his trip home. Chillum showed him the ways of the streets, but also introduced him the hashish. Chillum worked for Baba, the local dealer, pushing hash on the streets. He was fired from Baba for stealing money and not being loyal. After being let go Chillum was suffering withdrawal symptom and stole all of Krishmas money. This last dose was lethal he died of an overdose.
No matter how hard Krishma worked his life just became harder. He was fired from his job and was thrown into a home for kids without parents. After he escaped from jail he went to visit the girl he admired, sweet sixteen. When he arrived Mira, a close friend, was trying to escape from Baba. Krishma quickly grabbed a knife and stabbed Baba killing him. Krishma was forced to live on the streets and could not find a way to escape.
Thebedi was a slave working on a farm in “Town and Country Lovers Two.” She became friends with the owners son Paulus as children. Paulus brought home jewelry and other gifts from boarding school. They had to hide their secret from the family and other slaves. Thebedi’s parents decided she would get married just before he went to his first term of veterinary college. She also didn’t mention that she was going to have a baby. The baby was born just two months after the marriage, but it was common for the future husband to make sure the women was not barren before marriage. When the baby was born he had light complexion and straight hair. Paulus returned from college for the holidays and heard about the newborn baby. He went to Thebedi’s house and asked to see the baby. He was ashamed that he was the father of a colored baby. He insisted she give the baby away or get rid of it somehow. A couple of days later he returned to the house and fed the baby a liquid. He threatened to kill Thebedi if she mentioned it to anyone. The baby died that night while asleep. Paulus was brought before a court but was found not guilty due to lack of evidence.
People can be in a jail without actually being locked in a cage. Songlian willfully entered a marriage with strict rules and traditions. She spent her life trying to get the attention of her master even if it meant stabbing her fellow sisters in the back. While Krishma’s was forced into a life on the streets. He tried to escape, but could not overcome the constant struggles of living on the street. Thebedi was kept on the farm as a slave with little freedom. Even though she had a relationship with Paulus he never admitted it to anyone. In the end he was so ashamed he murdered his own son to cover the evidence. They all were confined in their own way by custom, tradition, prejudice, or poverty. None of them found a way to escape.