Tomorrow by Lu Xun, 1920
The magic trick:
Presenting plausible turning points that never turn the story
X is for Xun.
“Tomorrow” is a very sad story. And perhaps it’s because of this that the reader starts looking for a turning point. Not just something to fix the situation. I don’t think we’re that naïve, us SSMT readers. We understand that a story may well just be sad. But we’re looking for something that might explain the sadness, some kind of logic.
The story, seemingly in the reader’s mind, presents different moments and characters that when they appear plausibly could be that turning point. Except the story never really turns. It’s just sad. And it doesn’t get fixed. And it doesn’t get explained. It just is.
And that’s quite a trick on Xun’s part.
Though Fourth Shan’s Wife had been longing for an angel to come to her rescue, she had not wanted her champion to be Ah-wu. But there was something of the gallant about Ah-wu, for he absolutely insisted on helping her; and at last, after several refusals, she gave way.
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