Forbidden City – a discussion

Forbidden City – a discussion
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong was one of the founders of the Communist Party in
China (1921). He stressed the role of self-sufficiency and
guerrilla warfare in the revolution and believed that the
peasants were the most important people in any republic.
How are his beliefs ironic in light of what happened in Tian An
Men Square?
rights and freedoms
William Bell’s novel stresses the importance of personal and
political freedom. Through the protagonist, Alex Jackson, the
reader understands that rights and privileges that are taken for
granted in Canada and the United States are impossible
dreams under a dictatorial Communist regime.
What are some of the rights and freedoms North Americans take
for granted that are denied to the Chinese?
glorification of war
The glorification of war is another issue that is addressed in the
novel. Alex creates military displays as a hobby when he lives
in Canada. For the innocent Alex, war is a wonderful set of
complex maneuvers where soldiers dressed in coordinated
military uniforms carry out the orders of their superior officers.
It is only after Alex sees the reality of war in China that he
understands its true destructive force. He destroys his military
displays when he returns to Canada because they have taken
on a new and ugly meaning for him.
Explain how this is a symbolic action.
Alex – the character
Contrast Alex’s personality before he goes to Beijing and
following his return from China.
What makes Alex an admirable character?
Describe the relationship between Alex and his father.
Throughout the novel Alex matures. In what specific areas does
he mature and what causes him to mature? Give concrete
evidence that he has matured.
the Chinese
What specifically does Alex learn and admire about the Chinese
and their culture?
Explain in detail why Alex admires Lao-Xu and Xin-hua.
How does William Bell encourage his readers to side with the
Chinese students and their cause?
Describe the various means the Chinese government uses to end
the student protest and quash resistance.
Forbidden City – the title
Beijing becomes a forbidden city, a place where innocent people
are sacrificed owing to their beliefs. This sacrifice is covered
up and minimized by the powers in control.
No one in China is allowed to mark openly the anniversary of the
Tian An Men Square massacre.
In what sense is the title of the novel an appropriate one?