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Gonzalez 1

Michael Gonzalez
ENG 1500-12
Professor Lago
5/1/2014
The Bridegroom
Time and time again, we can see how culture, religion, and traditions mold the mindset of
the people. And because of these influences, it affects our daily lives and puts us into certain
situations and circumstances. In the story of The Bridegroom by Ha Jin, the main characters
Baowen and Beina are facing a few challenges and because of this, both Beina and Baowen
marry under odd circumstances. Beinas uncle and legal guardian was worried because she was
getting older and Beina didnt have a boyfriend or anyone to marry. Moreover, she was already
23 and her uncle was already worried because Beinas uncle was, afraid shed end up an old
maid (Jin 365). Baowen, on the other hand, seems to be the perfect man. Beinas uncle pretty
much praised Baowen for having the perfect resume for a potential married man. Beinas uncle
said:
Baowen had been one of the most handsome unmarried men in the factory
Baowen was good-natured and well educated a middle school graduate- and he
didnt smoke or drink or gamble. He had fine manners and often smiled politely,
showing his bright, straight teeth he even could knit things out of wool. (Jin,
The bridegroom)
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Even though Beinas uncle was praising Baowen, Beinas uncle understood that it was
too good to be true maybe he was right. Eight months into the relationship, Beina hasnt gotten
pregnant. In addition, Baowen was missing and Beina went to her uncle at work to help and
Public Security Bureau had called the office and they said to Beina that they had detained a
worker of ours, named Huang Baowen. He wouldnt tell me what happened. He just said,
indecent activity. Come as soon as you can (Jin 366).
It just seems to get worse when Beina sat down in a meeting room with the Public
Security Bureau and the Public Security Bureau told her that Baowen is detained for
homosexuality. Surprisingly, Beina said, heard that term before but didnt know what it
meant exactly (Jin 367). After Chief Miao explained that homosexuality is, Its a social
disease, like gambling, or prostitution, or syphilisPeople of the same sex have a sexual
relationship, Beinas Uncle had questioned the relationship and the future of the relationship if
Baowen were to be sentenced to jail for a long period of time (Jin 367).
Already at this point of the story, we see many parallels that directly relate to the real life
culture and real life mindset of China at that time. In China at this point in time, as well as many
other cultures and religions homosexuality is frowned upon. Laws that were set in place, to
pretty much be against homosexuality and punishment for being homosexual were dated back to
Ancient China. According to the article, Homosexuality in China by Steffi Lau, Homosexual
intercourse has been legal in Hong Kong since 1991. Prior to this, sodomy was illegal, instituted
by British colonial rule (Steffi Lau). Moreover, As for mainland China, well into the 1990s,
homosexuality was considered both a crime and a mental illness in the Peoples Republic. Gays
were prosecuted under the hooligan law while the Chinese Psychiatric Association labeled it a
mental disease (Steffi Lau). Not only it was considered a crime, but it was also considered a
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mental disease. Because of these laws, homosexuality was a thing that would be underground
and kept a secret. Then again, who wouldnt keep it a secret? To be considered mentally ill
according to society that you live in could actually drive you crazy! Societys idea of
homosexuality was sought differently for thinking and believing that it is an illness. It wouldnt
be a surprise if many homosexuals, at that time, actually thought that there was something wrong
with them because of the mindset that was establish at that certain time. In the story of, The
Bridegroom, Baowen is considered mentally ill for being a homosexual and it directly correlates
to the mindset and culture of China. For some odd reason, it was not even spoken of considering
that Beina didnt know what homosexuality even meant. Well, maybe it is not so odd to ... not
even know.
Throughout history, China was always the isolated country. The less China was involved
the better. China always stuck to their traditions for thousands of years and never had interest to
expand their knowledge of the outside world or what the outside world had to offer. In turn, the
people acted as such. This is why the people in China had a closed mind even in the later 20th
century because this mindset was deeply rooted for hundreds of years. An extraneous topic such
as topic of homosexuality was something that no one would talk about and because of that, many
people just didnt know what it even was.
Traditions, culture, and religion molds our mind to think a certain way. In an interview
with Dr. Jack Drescher, a Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, says that, Marriage and family is a
stabilizing force in our society. Its an odd thing to me that the people on the religious right who
argue against gay marriage think incorrectly that if you have gay marriage people will choose
gay marriage over straight marriage if you allow gay people to marry, they will have the same
kinds stabilizing forces in their relationships that you see in heterosexual marriages
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(Drakonvoice, BORN EQUAL) What Dr. Jack Drescher was saying is that marriage and family
is something that is critical in all cultures, in all forms and to all people. To some extent, Beinas
uncle understood that clearly because as Beina got older, the chance of her getting married was
slim. Usually in the Chinese culture, it was typical to get married young, in the late teens and
early twenties. Beina was already at the age of 23 and Beinas uncle didnt want her to be an old
maid (Jin 365).
In an interview with Dr. Dana Beyer, she explains marriage as, Marriage is such a
part of human tradition and it is very true (Drakonvoice, BORN EQUAL). In all types of
cultures, in all religions, and all people practice and amplify the unity of two people. Love is the
essence of that kind of unity well not always, but for the most part now in days it is. Especially
in the Chinese culture, marriage was a big part of its culture. In the story of, The Bridegroom
Beinas uncle was being suspicious considering that it has been already eight months into the
marriage, and there is no baby. Beinas uncle wants Beina to have a family, under close analysis
a question rosewhy he was expecting a baby? Coming to the realization that most cultures
have what I like to call the family express. What the family express is pretty much just get
married and have kids right away. I have encountered people that have the similar culture and
they told me, it is a very old school tradition and it is the job of the women and the job of the
men to do so. Does that sound like love to you?
The situation that Beina and Baowen have gotten into is a sticky one. Baowen has gotten
into a situation where his culture sees his sexual orientation as a crime for sodomy and is also
seen as a mental disorder at this point in time and Beina for being pressured to be married
because of her age and in the pressure of having of not being alone and have a family. Because
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of the culture they abide in and the traditions that have been practiced in this particular country,
the mindset of the people have driven this situation to arise among Beina and Baowen.
In an interview with Kenneth Bronstein, President of New York City Atheists, he had
expressed about religion and gay rights:
It is a straight moral issue. Its immoral to be against it. Churches are immoral!
And they are using this phony-ism for slavery. They use this for slavery. They are
immoral! And they are trying to make it a moral issue they are immoral for
taking that position and no one should follow that position. (Drakonvoice, BORN
EQUAL)
Kenneth Bronstein was passionately saying this for the simple fact that religion has taking the
position of saying that being a certain way is not righteous or it is morally wrong. Sadly to say
religion is not the only culprit, but culture and traditions have taken that place to decide what is
right and what is not right as well and society has conformed to that kind of mindset.
To conclude, as religion, culture and traditions keep on evolving, our mindset and our
mentality also evolves along with it and new situations will arise. The story of, The
Bridegroom by Ha Jin is just an example of the traditions and the culture of that time and place
in China.

Works Cited
Jin, Ha. The Bridegroom. Literature and the Writing Process. Tenth Edition. Joseph
Terry, Sean Strathy. Saddle River New jersey: Pearson, 2014. 365-378. Print.
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Lau, Steffi. "Homosexuality in China." US-China Today: Homosexuality
in China. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
Drakonvoice, Smith, Alan, Tsvete Smith, Alan R. Smith, and Barbara J. Smith. "BORN
EQUAL - Same Sex Marriage Documentary - Gay Rights, Religion, Gender -
Copyright2012." Online Video Documentary. YouTube. YouTube, 05 Sept. 2013. Web. 21
Apr. 2014.