|[a] Renewal RF|
If you can make it to the end of this post, you'll be rewarded with a retelling of the Ballad of Mulan (next week) that brings our understanding to new levels.
|[b] Gathering RF|
Of course, we think first of inbreeding. Farmers have understood this concept since the first coyote started eating "dog food"...and the pooches started to show a little more diversity. You see, the renewal called for here goes far beyond the common forms that we think about when our only focus is merely practical. Granet argues here for more than a little fresh conversation around the kitchen table and the avoidance of awkward tics. Society must renew and regenerate, just as the soil and the seasons must do the same. Granet stresses this point from start to finish.
The large undivided family, which, as the days went by, was self-sufficient
|[c] Communal RF|
How did Chinese peasant villages, in Granet’s idealized recreation of the world of his sources, create social exchange and renewal? The brief answer lies in trading half of the village’s children in each generation to other villages and integrating their children into the domestic unit. The social structural necessity of this arrangement should not mask its pain for individuals and families. Many sources speak to the misery of young women leaving their families and villages to become daughters-in-law. Even twentieth-century accounts show similar themes. Necessity does not equal ease, and exchange was accompanied in many cases by great pain.
In each generation one half of the children, all those of one sex, had to
The essential point was that marriage was made by a crossing of families,
“Caus[ing] a foreign influence permanently to penetrate its inner life,” the closed domestic order grudgingly (and of necessity) welcomes “foreign influence.” It is not done happily on either end. One village gives up its young women and receives another group whose members were influenced by “foreign” ways. Neither village is as inviting as it might imagine itself, and precisely because each is dominated by an “in-group” mentality. Ultimately, the domestic group is dependent upon these exchanges because they create something larger—for Granet, “society” itself—through the alliances that are formed.
This exchange and renewal is the Mulan legend, to which we now turn. Disney doesn't have a clue.