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Children of Prostitutes in 1930’s China: Comparing Portrayals in Goddess and “Crescent Moon”

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Abstract

This paper moves from the realm of social history to investigate the intersection of prostitution and childhood within the realm of literary works from mid-1930s China. Wu Yonggang’s 1934 silent filmShennuand Lao She’s 1935 short story “Yueyar” (“Crescent Moon”) both portray the stories of single mothers driven to prostitution in order to raise and educate their children, and both show how the mother’s profession as prostitutes shapes her offspring’s childhood. Although starting from similar premises, these works present vastly different visions of childhood. I argue that these differences stem from the difference in gender between the children in each of these works. 

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