A daughter of Han - a tale of Ning Lao T’ai-t’ai

The story of Ning Lao T'ai-t'ai

The story of Ning Lao T'ai-t'ai, also known in the literature as "Granny Ning," is a daughter of Han. The Chinese Woman's memoirs was written by Ida Pruitt. The book is a historical document because the author's goal in writing it was to portray the Chinese people honestly as resourceful and decent despite the difficult realities of their way of life. For roughly two years, the author brought the old mistress Ning to her house on several occasions so that she could interview her and develop the story (T'ai-t'ai and Pruitt, A Daughter of Han 7). The autobiography’s plot development was facilitated by the fact that the duos both lived in China and were acquainted with the Chinese language fully.

Testimony of the obstacles faced by women in China

Since the content of this book covered a real-life story of the old mistress in China, it would be justifiable to believe that it serves as a testimony regarding the obstacles of leading a female life in China and the Chinese way of life in general. Based on the tale, the writer unveils some of the consequences of discrimination that women faced in China during the 1930s (T'ai-t'ai and Pruitt A Daughter of Han 19). Capturing a woman in the story, Pruitt demonstrates some of the challenges that women faced in ancient China such as being denied the right to education, neglect based on gender, and not limited to abuse and suffering that women faced in the hands of their husbands. Things even got worse for Granny Ning when she endured countless mistreatments as she lived her entire life striving to bring her family together in the ravages of poverty and the face of war.

Confucian Gender Values in Chinese History

One of the most prominent unique contributions of this book is that it touched on the Confucian gender values in Chinese history in the early nineteenth century (T'ai-t'ai and Pruitt A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman 3). Before the twentieth century in China, sons were taught the values that they were expected to follow even at older ages and the same applied to the girls. In Pruitt’s book, the readers are engaged with the first-hand experience of a woman living in a low social class during the late phase of imperialism in China. The readers of the book also learn that despite the fact that women working outside their homes could not be avoided, the Confucian values still played an important and great part of the individual values of the lower-class population. This demonstrated that until Ning’s granddaughter era, which probably would be the modern China, the Confucian values of gender were deeply rooted in the minds of people living in low social classes (Vohra 9).

Differences in applying Confucian values of gender

In as much as the author is trying to give a concise history of ancient China by using individual’s experience, it is ostensible that the development of the plot has certain downfalls. A scrutiny of the book shows that the differences noted in the book were simple outcomes of differences in timing. Several other women had looked into experienced adulthood before the old mistress and discussed the possible cause for differences, which predominantly revolved around the socioeconomic gap. Whereas it might not be fair to make comparisons between Ning and the other women’s behavior, the difference in social status is when the readers can note the differences in applying the Confucian values of gender in respective lives (T'ai-t'ai and Pruitt A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman 15). Concisely, the book contains interesting facts regarding gender and history in ancient China, and it would be the best copy to grab for anyone interested in understanding Chinese history.

Works Cited

Ning, , and Ida Pruitt. A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. Print.

T'ai-t'ai, Ning L, and Ida Pruitt. A Daughter of Han. San Francisco: Hauraki Publishing, 2016. Internet resource.

Vohra, Ranbir. China's Path to Modernization: A Historical Review from 1800 to the Present. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000. Print.

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