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In the Pond by Ha Jin

Ha Jin's first novel In the Pond has similar sense of appeal as his short stories: Jin's literary work is crispy, unnerving, spectacular, as well as being dominated by complete characters. This is an intervallic novel where the main character, Shao Bin, undergoes humiliation after humiliation in his pursuit for what he perceives as justice. Ha Jin's book "In the Pond" narrates a magnificently crafted story of one man known as Shao Bin, who is compelled to work in the Harvest Fertilizer Plant as a mechanic. Bin is a brilliant artist and calligrapher, and it is apparent that he is perturbed by the way his aptitudes are being wasted by working as a mechanic. In addition the job is occasionally hard on his hands, which are essential for his writing as well as art. Despite the fact that Bin is among the senior employees at the plant, he and his family are deprived of the chance of living in the newly built worker's compound (Jin ô1).

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The novel unwinds with Shao Bin's given name missing off the listing of workers at the fertilizer factory who will be allocated a big apartment. Bin feels as if he has been treated unjustly and that others have been compensated for political motives. He reacts with his art, despite his situation as a fitter in the factory, he is a proficient artist, and so he sketches a cartoon which satirizes his two superiors' as well major archenemies in the novel, Director Ma and secretary Liu. Nevertheless, Liu and Ma reacts with a pay cut and Bin yet again produces another piece of art that directly assault their greed as well as their anti-revolutionary tendencies. Bin under no circumstances does he back down from the coercion launched his way, and intermittently with his wife's nagging, he continues to seek for fairness at the commune point, then with the county hierarchy, and ultimately in Beijing (ô2).

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Because his case becomes so famous, his supervisors are unable to just have him beat up, or to simply fire him. He is finally given a promotion by Liu and Ma's boss, where he will write and draw propaganda pieces for the party. Meanwhile his wife is still yearning for something larger than the single room she must share with her husband and their young girl. This is not a novel in which characters are fighting-a la Tiananmen Square-for an end to communist rule or greater liberalization. The power of the novel comes from the quixotic attempt of the common worker with the uncommon talent and faith in art to find a suitable outlet for his talents. Ha Jin has succeeded admirably in creating a fast-moving, very readable account of one imperfect man's search for some version of domestic and artistic happiness (Park ô2).

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"Choking with anger," Shao Bin, the wretched central character of Ha Jin's masterpiece, "In the Pond", finds solace in the words of the Han dynasty scholar Wan Chong. This appealing book is all in relation to the necessity and futility of anger for the common citizen, in this instance, a worker at the Harvest Fertilizer Plant in Dismount Fort in China. Reluctant to resort to corruption, Bin and his wife Meilan and child are downgraded to the incessant waiting list for a new accommodation, in spite of his seniority. His aptitude as a calligrapher goes unacknowledged, and after effective work all day, he can only do his artistry at night.

At epicentre, the book is a condemnation of a structure that subjugates the person in favour of those who are prepared to curry favour with persons in power. A bin incline at windmill after windmill, impervious, reluctant to give in to what he knows is erroneous. His superiors wharf his pay, disgrace him, and decline to employ his aptitude as a calligrapher as well as opting to hire a person from outside. Bin begins a P.R. campaign, distributing cartoons to the media that derides the plant's leaders, all with no results. Even after being permitted to sit the university entry exam, and is acknowledged by an institution, his bosses find ways to sabotage his dreams.

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The story is both entertaining and funny and regardless of its abstemious message. Bin's efforts are wretched even as they are dignified. Being correct and uttering so does not warranty being heard; besides, even after he is heard, the mistakes are not rectified. Even his ultimate "liberation" is enigmatically comic. Bin finally is given a job as that makes use of his writing capability for propaganda. Eventually, Ha Jin seems to say, there is no absconding the shit, even if he no longer has to toil at a fertilizer plant (ô3).

Bin together with his wife and child inhabits a small 12 by 12 foot room. Bin is portrayed as a desperate person who is in need to move and occupy the newly built workers compound, and he places his name on the waiting list with high hopes. It is only when the plant manager pass him over, despite for him being a high ranking worker, that Bin finally cracks. This is supposed to show that the true scholars brush must encourage good and warn against the evils committed in our society. Bin reads in The Essence of Ancient Chinese Thought, and is inspired. He thereafter publishes a satirical cartoon protesting official corruption. The repercussions of the simple act snowball and in a matter of self defence, Bin finds himself aiming his attacks even higher up the bureaucratic ladder (Jin ô4). Bin is characterised in several scenes involving character study, political allegory as well as sly bureaucratic satire. Bin himself is a half persecuted artist, half self-righteous boor and readers are left to sympathise with him and wonder along with one of his co-workers. Even his putative victory is left in doubt. Towards the end of the book, Shao Bin has perhaps become a larger fish, but there is no doubt about it. He is now in the very same pond that he started (Park ô1).

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Seething, Shao Bin uses his talents to gain revenge, by placing satirical cartoon in the provincial newspaper. Party leaders, secretly alarmed by accuracy and cleverness of the cartoon, rally quickly. Calling workers meeting they bluster and sneer over political incorrectness. "If he has not full reactionary intentions, he at least called us names." They conclude by slashing his bonus as well as requiring a public admission of guilt (Jin ô4).

The latter is however impossible for Shao Bin as "people would think him spineless" but the loss of his bonus really hurt. While he bemoans his rashness and wishes, his wife had stopped him and, provided "that he was already in the thick of the fight, he had best engage his enemy" both sides are caught in an accelerating spiral of recriminations and revenge. The officials become particularly incensed at a cartoon published in a national workers paper portraying them as fat with luxuries. "Damn the mad dog!" cursed Liu, "if I'd ever taken a drop of Maotai, I wouldn't feel so wronged" (ô5).

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As the pace increases, Ha Jin playfully explores the universal human cycle of repression and subversion, pursued despite the obvious cost and folly. His spare novel teems with wicked humour, and even slapstick. But it is a rare thing, a comic political novel with real characters. Shao bin is not only talented and unappreciated; he's pigheaded, arrogant and selfish, and likeable for his uncertainties and enthusiasms. So too, the personal nature of the outrage and doubts, misgiving and greed, humanize the party bosses

Shao Bin is a gifted calligraphist and painter running a repairs job in the northern Chinese community of Dismount Fort, prepared to talk out against unfairness after being insulted in the housing lottery. His creative skills, perfected in private, in addition to his loyalty to Maoist doctrines, guide to opportunity outside the bleak commune- exemplifying for a propaganda publication, but these are cruelly snatched away by his cynical bosses.

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Undeterred, Shao commences a personal operation to expose his self-rewarding superior. Shao's potentially troublesome conceptions- a illegitimately ironic caricature of his bosses, a picture for a crusading journalist that depicts him as a laudable swordsman- are packed with vigour, a insurrection in small. Ha Jin creates what would seem a constrained, introverted process both politically influential and narratively enthralling. Although the theme of the writing implement almighty isn't precisely new, the depiction of Shao's talent raises this tale into the sphere of rapt emphasis. Ink work is so vibrantly illustrated that one perceives it desiccated on the page, and the sheer physicality of the process gets ravishing action, as in the way where Shao difference his prized ink stone, stippled with mica, to a star-filled night over a sleeping town (ô6).

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Ha Jin concludes In the Pond with Shao support to propaganda work, arms raise victoriously like wings. The book's moral- that every stirrer has its worth- is deploy with absolute irony: Shao is blissfully oblivious of the actuality that his new role will sludge him in Dismount Fort forever. And his creativity, once so passionately, give the impression of being destined to recede into weakness, as in a recanting communication to an encouragement periodical that had champion his case: "The brushwork in the letter was discourteous, so that the characters featured rather and cloudy graceful" (Jin ô7). This well-shaped book manages to depict Shao's co-opting with a vagueness that impersonates his delicate greys.

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