The defining moments in our lives and in our generations are the moments of true change. It may be for the better or it may be for the worse but either way, someone had the courage to speak up for what they wanted. In the poem ‘Lost Sister’ by Cathy Song, the author explains the hardships of being a Chinese girl and the way the society treated them and their expectations. This poem is much contrasted to the song ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’ written and sung by Bob Dylan. This song describes the foreseen changes in the world and warns those around him to change or get left behind, touching on both conformity and rebellion. Both pieces of text have extremely different cultures and time frames behind them, which makes them excitingly different, yet similar.
To rebel is to go against the ‘norm’ or to go against what you are told. Rebellion is often demonstrated in teenagers rebelling against their parents or adults and doing what they want. When it comes to whole societies of people rebelling, it can get a little messy. In the poem Last Song, the author describes the way of life for a traditional Chinese girl, how they are beautiful and elegant yet stripped of their natural rights to travel freely were forced into feet binding. They were forced to have their feet painfully bound by rope to form a more ‘perfect’ woman with small teacup shaped feet.
The women did not rebel, they stayed quiet and did what they were told, supporting the family, and silencing their inner thoughts, hatred, and hunger. This poem is so contrasted to Bob Dylan’s song The Times…. Where he urges the people of that time to move ahead and rebel against the old ways or be left behind. This was set in the time of the Civil Rights movements (1960s) and much of the nation was still accepting and practicing old traditional and harsh ways of life. This was a time of rapid change and succession and if you did not break free of the ways of the past then you will be left behind to drown in the past.
Conforming to an idea or a law is not always a bad thing, but also not always a good thing. As people we are given free agency, the ability to choose what we want to do, say, and how we act. Each decision comes with consequences and some ways are never broken due to fear or violence. The Last Song is a perfect example of young girls and women of Asian cultures keeping their heads down and conforming to what they are told is beautiful and what is acceptable. By following these rules and traditions, they had no freedom, suffered bone breaking pain, and did not truly get to live their lives as who they were. Yet on the other hand, like stated before, every choice comes with a consequence. Women in traditional Asian countries, and even in modernized societies are scared to voice a change for threats on their life and the fear of changing traditional ways.
It says in the poem “But they traveled far in surviving, learning to stretch the family rice, to quiet the demons, the noisy stomachs” meaning even though these women may have moved to a different land, they still quiet themselves and they still suffer the pressure of being a traditional Chinese woman. Compared to the song Bob Dylan writes, these are two whole different worlds, what he writes as people needing to change from the past to the future ways is seen as a rebellion against the old but can also be construed as a conformity to the pressures of a changing world. When we take into consideration the fact that this was about the times of the Civil Rights movements and Vietnam war time, yes change was for the better, but since the whole of society was changing their ways, cant this also be seen as conformity? Changes such as anti-segregation are good yet a bandwagon of people conformed to changing of female sexuality and the image of the family. If the world said it was okay now, then if you didn’t conform then in these cases you will also be left behind.