Honesty Is The Best Policy: Loyalty And Other Themes Of Asian Literature
“Live together, die together.” When two people love each other, this virtue of loyalty binds them together. This concept is at the heart of Jin Yong’s novel, A Hero Born. In A Hero Born, Ironheart Yang and Skyfury Guo are sworn brothers. Their wives, Charity Bao and Lily Li, are both about to bear children. They make a pact that their children will either be brothers, sisters, or man and wife. But sadly, Yang and Guo are killed at the hands of Justice Duan, a commander in the Jin Empire, before seeing their hopes become a reality. Charity is also forced to flee to Mongolia after Lily is captured by Justice Duan and taken to a sacred temple called the Garden of the Eight Drunken Immortals. Meanwhile, Guo and Yang’s friend, Qui Chuji, a disciple of one of the most powerful warriors in all of China, Central Divinity, has gotten himself into a quarrel with a group named the 7 Freaks of the South. Both parties are widely known throughout China as great masters of martial arts. Their previous battles ended in a tie. As a tie-breaker, they decide to have a contest to see if they can find one of the wives of Yang and Guo, raise the child, and then train them to be great masters of martial arts as well. Qui Chuji sets off to find Charity as the 7 Freaks of the South set off to find Lily Li. The rest of the book follows Guo Jing, Skyfury Guo’s son, as he trains under the 7 Freaks and joins the great Temujin, or Genghis Khan in Mongolia. Guo Jing also encounters Ma Yu, another disciple of Central Divinity, who teaches him Neigong, or inner strength kung fu for two years. This helps Guo Jing sleep well and be lighter on his feet. In this section of the novel, loyalty and honesty are reinforced as central values, as they are believed to be essential qualities of a hero in Ancient China.
Loyalty is a recurring theme in the book. There are many examples of this including the ones listed below.
“‘If our children are boys, they will be sworn brothers. If they are girls, they will be sworn sisters–’
“‘And if we have one boy and one girl, they shall be married,’ Guo cut in.” (Yong 24)
This shows how these two couples are so loyal to each other that they know, without a questionable doubt that they will grow old together. They even sign their children off to each other. “Attacked by the Jin army, Ironheart turned to check that Lily Li was unhurt. At that moment, an arrow whistled through the air toward him and buried itself in his back. It felt like ice piercing his heart. So this is it, Ironheart said to himself. But I must defeat these men first, so Lily can escape.” (Yong 37) This shows that making sure that his sworn brother’s bloodline gets passed on is more important to Yang then even his own life. These demonstrate how loyalty is woven into A Hero Born because it indicates that Yang and Guo are selfless and would do anything for each other including promise to spend their lives together, hence committing their children to each other, for whom they must be there for. They would even die for each other.
Honesty is another very important attribute used to distinguish a hero that is a main theme in A Hero Born. “‘I’m too stupid. My shifus are doing all they can.’” (Yong 204) Guo Jing admits this after Ma Yu tells him to meet him on top of the hill. Very few people have the courage to admit when they aren’t very smart, but Guo Jing was able to muster up enough. Especially in this society today, courage to people is doing horrible things that you would get in trouble for. Therefore, this can only be said by a true honest person.
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