Chinese 410: The Chinese Novel // Outline Assignment (Sample)
Name: R. VanNess Simmons // Date: 1/20/00
The Scholars by Wu Jingzu (1701-1754) -- Chapter 1
I. English translation of the title couplet:
"The story's opening narrative lays out the grand right [moral].
II. Main character(s) in this chapter:
III. Outline of the story developments in this chapter:
A well known exemplar foreshadows the entire text."
The story of this chapter takes place in Zhejiang in the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368).
Wang Mian's father dies when he is seven, after which he is only able to
continue school for 3 years.
Then his mother is no longer able to support him, so he goes to work as
a buffalo heard boy.
He ends up becoming a famous painter of flowers.
He first uses his spare money to buy books.
But after hearing a conversation between scholars that reveals to him the
empty vanity of officialdom, Wang Mian gives up buying books and takes
up the study of painting instead.
But Wang Mian is an eccentric, uninterested in official position.
He is also known for his erudition and mastery of the classics.
He eventually is able to make a living through his painting.
Fearing Magistrate Wei's anger over his action, Wang Mian moves to Jinan,
Shandong, in the North, leaving his mother in Zhejiang.
Bailiff Chai commissions a set of 24 of Wang Mian's paintings for the county
Wang Mian only agrees at the urging of his friend Old Jin, the peasant.
A Magistrate Wei, a superior official to whom Magistrate Shi had presented
the 24 paintings, wishes to meet Want Mian.
Wang Mian refuses to go.
He also makes himself unavailable when Magistrate Shi condescends to try
and visit him. He explains to Old Jin, "This magistrate relies on
Mr. Wei's authority to tyrannize the common people here, and do many other
bad things. Why should I have anything to do with a man like that."
Six years after he returns home, Wang Mian's mother dies.
On her death bed she has her son promise to never become an official.
A year after his three-year mourning period, Wang Mian is visited by Zhu
Yuanzhang (1328-1398), the future founder of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
He makes a good living there for 6 months.
A flood of the Yellow River, and a consequent flood of refugees, provides
Wang Mian a reason to return home.
The Ming dynasty is established.
Wang Mian advises him to "use goodness and justice to win the people."
Wang Mian reveals to no one who visited him.
Later Wang Mian, alarmed by word that he will be offered an official appointment,
slips away to live as an anonymous recluse in the mountains.
IV. Of note in this chapter:
Old Jin shows Wang Mian a bulletin announcing that Magistrate Wei was exiled
for arrogance toward the new emperor.
The bulletin also notes that future civil service exams will only test
ability to write "eight-legged essays," which Wang Mian remarks promises
ill for the future of scholarship and civil service.
Opening poem hints at the moral point of the novel:
"People face many crossroads in the directions their
lives may take:
Military officers, government ministers, gods, and immortals,
all begin as ordinary people.
A hundred dynasties rise and fall; dawn returns to dusk;
Wild river winds can blow down the trees of a previous
Accomplishment, fame, wealth, and position are all without
One can expend all one's heart and passion [in their
pursuit], and yet all is wasted in the flash of time.
So have a few glasses of turbid wine and go for drunken
For who knows where the water flows, or whence the blossoms
Prose passages descriptive of scenery are innovative and well done.
Guidelines for the construction of your outlines:
Your outline must be typed.
Follow the exact format of this sample.
Please include all the sections, I-IV, included in this sample.
Provide only the very essential details.
Try to keep your outlines only about 1 page long. And do not
exceed 2 pages.
Use Pinyin to Romanize Chinese words and names
Capitalize proper nouns.
Underline Romanized, uncapitalized Chinese words.
Provide dates for all real historical periods and persons mentioned in