Life and Death in Shanghai" by Nien Cheng, "Atonement" by Ian McEwan and "The Violent Bear it Away" by Flannery O'Connor.
This paper will analyze how the three books demonstrate the significance of truth in one's life and how big a priority it is or isn't.
Search For Truth
Is Truth the winner in the end? Is the battle between Good or Evil always by won by Good? Could lies have terrible consequences on not only one's own life but on others? These are some of the questions that are raised and/or answered in Life and Death in Shanghai, Atonement and The Violent Bear It All.
Life and Death in Shanghai" by Nien Cheng is a true account of how Nien Cheng's life was persecuted and imprisoned during the time of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution in China. (1966-1976).
During this time, Nien Cheng became a victim of the revolution. Her home was looted by the Red Guards and she was imprisoned and falsely accused of espionage. During her imprisonment, she was excessively tortured so that she would confess to crimes she had not committed. The book highlights how despite so much torture, Nien Cheng refused to confess and was kept in solitary confinement for over six years. Her health deteriorated and she suffered through tremendous anxiety on account of worrying over the fate of her only child Meiping.
The supremacy of truth over everything else is clearly highlighted in Nein's book and is clearly evident from her own behavior. Throughout her persecution and torture, she never gave in and never ever confessed a lie. Through her determination to always maintain the truth and nothing but the truth, she proved the ascendancy of the human spirit over tyranny. This is the most fascinating thing about this book that even though she was under tremendous pressure and went through countless interrogations, not once did she give up; not once did she confess to the lie. As she writes in her book, "The more logical and intelligent course was to face persecution no matter what I might have to endure,"(Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng). For six years of her imprisonment, she stayed strong and demonstrated her determination and her ability to survive. On another occasion she writes, once again demonstrating the significance of truth as a very important virtue that "Determined to find fault, the Revolutionaries refused to see virtue." (Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng). It didn't matter whether or not one actually committed a crime. What only mattered was that one was thought to have committed a crime.
This book demonstrates how Nien Cheng survived these tiring times without giving up her values.
One can easily gauge from her writing what she must have gone through and yet she did not succumb to the torture. "As I stood in the room looking at it for the last time, I felt again the cold metal of the handcuffs on my wrists and remembered the physical suffering and mental anguish I had endured while fighting with all the willpower and intellect God had given me for that rare and elusive thing in a Communist country called justice." (Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng).
The concept of truth is demonstrated in a totally different manner in Ian McEwan's Book "Atonement." One can say that this is a book that is psychologically haunting as it demonstrates how one event can change the lives of several people in one go. The story revolves around a 13-year-old hyper-imaginative girl Briony Tallis, who accuses Robbie, her sister's childhood friend and their housemaid's son, of raping her cousin Lola. On the basis of her testimony, Robbie is jailed. After five years, Robbie is released, joins the British Army and gets back together with Cecilia. Briony becomes increasingly aware of the fact that she had wronged Robbie that day five years ago and begins to seek atonement, thus the title of this book.. She seeks atonement first through a career in nursing and then through her writing, with the novel itself framed as a literary confession, which took her almost a lifetime to write.