祝福 (Zhùfú), “New Year’s Sacrifice”, is the last instalment in our Lŭ Xùn theme week. Another tragedy (you guessed it!) it shows Lŭ Xùn’s disdain for how women were treated in traditional society.
A narrator visits his aunt and uncle’s village over Chinese New Year and discovers the sad story of their former maidservant.
Known simply as “Xíang Lín’s wife”, she is the widow of a young man who died of illness. She is an extraordinarily good servant, but is one day violently carried off by her relatives to marry another man - for a sizeable dowry!
The new husband dies too, and their young son is eaten by wolves. Life breaks her, and although she returns to work for the aunt and uncle she’s never the same. People in the village gossip. They won’t let her prepare the New Year’s food because she’s become unlucky. They fire her and she becomes a beggar.
Kicking and screaming, on her way to husband number two. Baidu Baike