Taipei People by Pai Hsien-yung reflects the effects of the War of Resistance and the Chinese Civil War (Hsien-Yung, 2000). The collection focuses on the issues that people from Mainland China experienced because of those wars. Every short story vividly portrays the hardships of common people. In this analysis, we aim to understand the meaning of “The Eternal Snow Beauty.” The author describes the power which the most beautiful woman, Yin Hsueh-yen, in the community possesses, regardless of the vicious rumors about her. In society, there have always been influential people. Some of them impact their surroundings negatively while others have a positive imprint. In most cases, people who are considered to have a higher social status encourage others to follow them slavishly. The influence also corresponds to the aspect of beauty. For example, men, regardless of their social status, give much attention to beauty. In particular, a woman’s beauty has a significant influence on them. They often have the urge to marry these ladies, but fate can have another plan. However, female beauty cannot be void of hurdles. In some cases, it may cost people their lives. Moreover, it may provoke jealousy and negative criticism from other people. For example, Yin Hsueh-yen’s sisters do not react positively to her beauty. Other women as well do not wish her well because they would be happy to resemble her. Thus, the image of Snow Beauty illustrates the powerful influence beauty has on the society, which, on the one hand, associates beautiful women with bad luck, but, on the other hand, shows the desire to be related to them.
Due to Yin Hsueh-yen’s exceptional beauty, many suitors want to marry her. The author defines the problematic circumstances that the woman undergoes before marriage. She should accept the completion men have initiated to in order to have her marry them. For her, it is an intense pressure. Despite the rumors concerning her horoscope, men never stop fighting for her. There is the belief that the marriage to her would make one lose his fortune. The majority of men ignores such statements and, instead, remains optimistic about having her in their lives. Wang Kuei-sheng is one of the most persistent characters who struggle desperately to possess her. Her female beauty blinds the man who is ready to employ any means to triple or quadruple his fortune as a way to win Yin Hsueh-yen (Hsien-Yung, 2000, p.6). At this point, the excessive proclivity by Kuei-sheng to marry this lady becomes a problem. One should ask whether it is the female beauty or the desire to have a wife make him ready to employ any means. Despite the efforts and intentions that this man displays, the author reveals that he has no chance to have Yin Hsueh-yen in his life. The author makes an audience realize the reality and the force of beauty when Director Hung finally marries her (Hsien-Yung, 2000, p.6). At this point, the power of beauty resurfaces once again. Hung is a government bureau chief. His affluence is not hidden since Hung is one of the Shangai finance hotshots. However, all these factors cannot withstand the lady’s beauty. Moreover, the man decides to divorce his wife and to abandon his children in order to meet Yin Hsueh-yen’s demands. When he leaves his family, they move to an elegant Western-style house where they settle for the future. Therefore, it is apparent that beauty, particularly an extraordinary female beauty, has a great influence on the minds of people. Without any rational explanations, people can risk their lives, wealth, and past in order to be near the beauty for a moment.
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The influence of lady’s beauty even increases when Hung marries her. It is apparent at the parties where people gather for various purposes but eventually could only pay attention to the appearance of Yin Hsueh-yen. The author confirms her ability to dominate these events which usually serve only as a brilliant gathering, involving the fashionable daughters born in the wealthy families. One could expect Yin Hsueh-yen to rank low regarding beauty since most of the ladies are young and vibrant. However, Pai Hsien-yung uses this setting to create a picture of a highly competitive society where the upper-class individuals fight for recognition. The parties are a level ground for such competition since all these ladies come from wealthy and stable family backgrounds. However, regardless of her age and past, her beauty remains conspicuous. The author asserts that “…the sight of her called forth an answering fire in the eyes of those elegant men and women” (Hsien-Yung, 2000, p.7). Thus, this description explains how powerful the famous Snow Beauty is. The author calls her Snow Beauty because her appearance cannot be unnoticed. It is a quality that proves to be difficult to dispute. Her appearance is the reason many men find her attractive. The power of her beauty remains a defining factor that one can easily identify as a force which changes the lives of those who surround Yin Hsueh-yen. Thus, it is evident that a woman’s beauty has a profound influence on the society, especially on men who are eager to possess the most valuable objects in the world. Her beauty mystifies men. Their inability to explain their attraction urges them to fight for it.
The claims concerning her horoscope also contribute to the level of influence that her beauty has on people. The initial prediction is that the lady would bring misfortune to people who marry her. The issue becomes apparent when Hung’s horoscope proves to have no match with the evil charm. The lady uses her power of beauty to witness how Hung loses his social status and becomes an ordinary person. The lady decides to divorce after Hung loses his job and announces his status of bankruptcy (Hsien-Yung, 2000, p.8). The author depicts her magnanimity since she only takes her possession, chef, and two maids. Even though this scene suggests the negative influence of the beauty of this woman, one cannot blame her since everybody knows the possible consequences of the relationships. In most cases, the woman succumbs to the pressure form men. One would even blame Hung for his bankruptcy. His decision to divorce his wife and to abandon his children could have contributed to his status. However, the focus of this story remains on the influence of beauty and its pressure as the primary factor that dictates the behavior of men towards their families and their wealth. Logically, men will do everything they can when they are under the forces of love and beauty. In rare cases, they try to rationally explain their actions towards the beauty.
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Moreover, the influence of beauty gives one a unique identity in the society. One of the defining traits of beautiful individuals is their possibility of being less expressive. Besides, they often become involved in the dances with slow rhythm. Yin Hsueh-yen is a person who likes dancing. The author confirms this fact when Hsueh-yen elevates her head slightly and moves gently having her own rhythm and paying no attention to external disturbances (Hsien-Yung, 2000). Her beauty is eternal because she knows the effects it has on people. The lady never applies makeup yet her attractiveness proves to be natural. This condition might refer to the issue when these days, one can barely walk along the streets and see a lady with no makeup. The author uses many descriptive languages to aid the understanding of this concept (Hsien-Yung, 2000). Pai Hsien-yung describes Snow Beauty as having adorable snow-white skin, slim figure, sweet eyes, and perfect oval face. However, it is true that beauty cannot last a lifetime. At some age, wrinkles start to develop and people no longer think that one is as beautiful as before, particularly during the juvenile stages (Hsien-Yung, 2000).
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The author tells the story about the influence of beauty in a captivating way, and one is curious to know what happens next. He highlights the connections between the beauty and the past. Undoubtedly, it is vital to help people to view themselves in retrospect. The author reveals that society aspires to witness beauty in their daily life. If they cannot find beauty in a person, they create it following their valuable traditions. Even in the modern day, the Chinese love dancing. They do it in a beautiful manner in order to preserve the beauty of a move.
Furthermore, beauty defines how a person engages and participates in the events. In the case of Yin Hsueh-yen, people had a continuous desire to attend her parties. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons for this was the exceptional organization of the events. The lady ensured that people had plenty of food to eat and beverages to drink. Yin Hsueh-yen was a perfect hostess, and whenever there was a monthly contribution, they did the bidding in her house. Rotating menus were designed every day. The lady knew what each guest wanted, and no one felt hurt (Hsien-Yung, 2000). The guests were very generous with their tips as they left the house. Nevertheless, this was obviously the beauty of this woman that attracted others so much. In general, when a woman is divorced, people tend to alienate her. However, in the story, her old and new friends still flocked to her house and talked about the past. They still wanted to be associated with her. There is the belief that being associated with a beautiful woman makes another person feels beautiful. Moreover, one can receive considerable benefits and meet high-class friends. For example, it is Yin Hsueh-yen’s influence that made a man win a gambling game. In the story, one reads that Snow Beauty assists a man in winning a gamble when he has lost a series of games. It displays just how addictive the game can be. However, there is the feeling that others respond to Yin Hsueh-yen’s desire to win only because she is beautiful but not skillful. People play the game and lose much money (Hsien-Yung, 2000). This particular man should resolve the conflict with his wife because of his actions. In the end, the man dies. The author does not say who stabbed it. However, probably people who owed him money from gambling committed that vice. It is obvious that debt can lead to the death of a person. The author educates people to avoid some habits because they are dangerous (Hsien-Yung, 2000). In particular, married men should stay with their families and listen to their relatives. The first man left his family to marry Snow Beauty, and it did not work. The second one risked his marriage after having an association with Snow Beauty. It means that beauty cannot resolve the problems and bring peace. A person should adhere to his/her guiding principles without yielding to temptation
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The negative influence of beauty also becomes apparent in this story. The relationships with Yin Hsueh-yen are not always fruitful. Every man who came close to her suffered a tragedy. The one man who was lucky to have her as a wife lost his job. Hung became bankrupt, and she left him to live elsewhere and to maintain her high-class life. Another man died. The devastating consequences result from the jealousy among people. Yin Hsueh-yen faced a challenge from the sisters who did not find her beauty pleasing. Her response to hostile attitude is to still accommodate every person without viewing them as the enemies. The author specifies that it is essential that one learns how to remain strong. Not everyone will be pleased with the benefits an individual has. Certainly, many people continue to hurt other people because of beauty or their ranks in the social strata. Yin Hsueh-yen becomes successful, and her social status increases significantly. However, this prosperity does not augur well with the group of women (Hsien-Yung, 2000, p.10). They do not want to recognize her success. Instead, they regard her as a taxi dancer, no matter how far her social status rose. It requires a person’s intuitive ability to enable him or her employ the necessary skills when reacting to any situation that portrays them negatively.
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However, the beauty remains to have predominantly a positive influence in the society. Despite Yin Hsueh-yen’s age, her impact remains apparent at the places where people play games. Due to her attractiveness, many individuals still flock to this area. On the one hand, women find her useful in offering pieces of advice. They could ask her questions whenever they need (Hsien-Yung, 2000, p.16). On the other hand, some old people who knew her before still succumb to the forces of her beauty. Due to the fact that she manages to influence people with her attractiveness, people call her Snow Beauty. Her beauty and hospitality create a place of social interactions. Many people meet here for different reasons, including discussing their past encounters. Therefore, it is true that a woman’s beauty has much influence on the society because it can unite people of different backgrounds in one place.
In conclusion, the influence of beauty on the society is apparent in this story. Pai Hsien-yung depicts this concept by using Yin Hsueh-yen as the center of beauty. Her power reveals when many suitors struggle to make her marry them. Some of these individuals move to the point of being ready to take every action that can help them win the heart of this woman. For example, Hung decides to divorce his wife and to abandon his children just to have the lady marry him. Additionally, beauty gives a holder a unique identity in the society. Yin Hsueh-yen becomes the center of focus even among the wealthy people in the society. They aim to win the heart of this woman and to receive her attention. However, not every man succeeds in this endeavor. Snow Beauty attracts many people for different reasons. It appears that her beauty gives them a new meaning in life. Moreover, it allows them to find a place when they can interact and share their lives. Despite being hostile, other ladies still find this woman useful in their lives because she can offer valuable pieces of advice to them. However, there are also the negative effects of female beauty. The examples are the misfortunes that men who engage with this lady encounter. The Eternal Snow Beauty should also struggle in order to accept her destiny. She understands her power and continues to engage in the social life. Female beauty forces people to believe that it can make them happier. However, eventually, they fail to understand that the reasons for their misfortune also lie in it.
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