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Night in Shanghai
The forgotten story of black musicians in the Chinese jazz age, and a...
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How do you see Thomas, Lin, and Song navigating the choice between passivity, resistance and collaboration. What would you have done in their place?

Created: 01/11/15

Replies: 2

Posted Jan. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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How do you see Thomas, Lin, and Song navigating the choice between passivity, resistance and collaboration. What would you have done in their place?

The historian Poshek Fu wrote that all educated people in Shanghai had to choose between passivity, resistance, and collaboration in the years covered by Night in Shanghai. How do you see Thomas, Lin, and Song navigating this choice--and how does each change as the novel unfolds? What would you have done in their place?


Posted Jan. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lindah

Join Date: 04/17/14

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RE: How do you see Thomas, Lin, and Song navigating the choice between passivity, resistance and collaboration. What would you have done in their place?

Lin and Song are attuned to the inherent dangers in their familial ties to one of the most powerful warlords in Shanghai. Song may be well-educated, beautifully groomed and dressed but she is enslaved and bound for another 10 years. Lin is illegitimate and holds a tenuous position. They have witnessed the killing of a young mistress and the casual disposal of the body and know all too well their lives literally depend on the whims of the master/warlord. They have learned to share information for mutual benefit. Thomas, the outsider, American black musician doesn't know the rigid rules of the Chinese society but is able to adapt from his years of getting along as a racially marginalized citizen in America. The three of them become friends and allies and help each other. Thomas collaborates with the Chinese to spy on the Japanese Admiral who is mad about jazz. I think each does what they must to survive and I would hope to be able to navigate such perilous waters with such aplomb.


Posted Jan. 18, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mal

Join Date: 09/09/13

Posts: 155

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RE: How do you see Thomas, Lin, and Song navigating the choice between passivity, resistance and collaboration. What would you have done in their place?

I would have done (almost) anything necessary to survive. I believe each made a choice for survival, free agency in most cases. They did what they did without regret. Doubtful if given a chance they would have chosen differently.


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