Many people in China during the 1930’s wished for a son. Sons were heirs to their fathers and were to learn family secrets, which were things that were not taught to daughters. During the 1930’s many people could not financially support their family. These families had to sell their children to those who were better off than they were. When people had the choice, they would always sell their daughters off before their sons, since sons were of greater importance in society at the time. Bianlian was one of many who were poor, but wished for a heir. He wished to teach a male heir his form of art. He was very ticked off when he found out that he had adopted a granddaughter instead of a grandson. His poverty caused him to try and get rid of this little girl. When he decided to let the girl stay, he knew that he had to follow traditional values and teach the girl some other form of skill. When Bianlian was in jail, he thought he was going to die there. The hope that he once had about having a heir to pass his skill onto was lost. One day, Doggie, got him out of jail. At first, Bianlian thought it was his friend, Master Liang, who had free him; but when he found out that it was Doggie, he knew that she was worthy of passing on his skill to. He taught her his skill even though he knew he was defying traditional values.
In the scene where Bianlian was searching for a grandson to adopt, one thing that I noticed was the high number of people there. All these people were too poor to raise their children and had to sell them. Among these children, there was an overwhelming female majority. Most if not all the children that were being sold were either daughters or infant sons. This scene showed how much poverty was affecting China when this movie was being filmed.
In another scene, Doggie told Bianlian that she was a female. After learning this fact, Bianlian tried to disown Doggie. With the knowledge, Bianlian’s hopes were lost, since he can’t pass on his skill to Doggie and he was too poor to raise two children. This scene shows the importance of gender role in China and how tightly people hold on to their traditional values.
There was a scene where Doggie accidentally burned the boat that she was living in with Bianlian. In this scene, Bianlian experienced a major loss. The boat was all he had and no it’s gone. Everything he had worked for in his life is now gone.
The movie showed a strong sense of community in China. It seemed to me that everywhere Bianlian went, a lot of people knew who he was. When he told one person that he had adopted a grandson, within a couple of days, the whole community knew. However, when he disowned Doggie and didn’t tell anyone, nobody knew about what had happened. The speed at which news traveled displayed just how close-knit people in the community were.
In the movie, Bianlian had a strong tie to the dock. Bianlian always parked his boat at the same place and throughout the movie; he seemed to always be in the same general location of the town. Bianlian either has a strong connection to the dock or has nowhere else to go, but either way, he’s always there and it seems like he’s planning to live the rest of his life by the dock.