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Biography of Ning Lao T’ai t’ai

Ida Pruitt was a keen observer of Chinese history, paleo-anthropology, and society. She was a prolific writer and wrote a number of books and articles including autobiographies, like Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chines Working Woman.

The book was written after a Chinese woman Ning Lao T’ai t’ai shared her story with Ida. The subject of the book is Ning Lao T’ai t’ai. She met with Ida three times a week to talk with her about Chinese customs and traditions. These meeting became the basis of the autobiography. Ning Lao T’ai t’ai was born to a poor family. Her father used to be a scholar. He was selling baked goods to support his family. As a child, Ning Lao contracted smallpox. At the time, her feet were bound to be small according to traditions and the customs. At 15, she was married through an arranged marriage to a man who was addicted to opium. To support his addiction, he sold all the possessions of the family. After that, Ning Lao began to beg to support the family. Her husband sold one of their daughters. Ning Lao left him and became a servant to support her other daughter and herself. Later, she became a peddler. Several years later, Ning Lao moved back with her husband. He quit his habit and she gave birth to a son. Ning Lao’s daughter got married to a man who could not support her, so Ning Lao had to support her daughter and grandchildren. Later, Ning Lao moved in with her son in Beijing. She told her story to Pruitt in the 1930s. Ning Lao’s family stayed in Beijing during the Japanese invasion but Pruitt didn’t know how they fared afterwards.

Pruitt relates the story of Ning Lao in simple language. She uses Chines proverbs and occasional Chinese phrases. It is an autobiography made through the series of interviews. From the very beginning of the book, the readers feel that they are in the presence of Ning Lao.

The common destiny can be seen through the individual destiny. So, through the telling of one Chinese peasant woman’s life, we can see the way of life of Chinese people back in the time. The story provides a vivid vision of Chinese culture and history. The meetings Pruitt had with Ning Lao T’ai t’ai were initially supposed to give an insight of Chinese family customs to the author. However, they also became a basis for an enduring friendship.

Ida Pruitt was a keen observer of Chinese history, paleo-anthropology, and society. She was a prolific writer and wrote a number of books and articles including autobiographies, like Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chines Working Woman.

The book was written after a Chinese woman Ning Lao T’ai t’ai shared her story with Ida. The subject of the book is Ning Lao T’ai t’ai.

Assignment ID
100004930
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CREATED ON
30 May 2017
COMPLETED ON
1 June 2017
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$38
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