Mem­o­ries of Mao Ze­dong and His Father

毛泽东与父亲

Special Focus - - Contents - Zhang Jinli 张锦力

Born into a rel­a­tively wealthy fam­ily, Mao Ze­dong not only lived a com­fort­able life but was also ex­posed to books. We take it for granted that Mao had a happy child­hood. How­ever, it is de­tected in Edgar Snow's in­ter­view that Mao felt bit­ter­sweet and so much as sti­fled in his teens. This was some­how as­so­ci­ated with his father, Mao Shun­sheng. When asked about his feel­ings of his father as a child, Mao opened up to Snow and said “I have come to hate him.” Af­ter all, what kind of an­guish caused by his father ran­kled Mao in spite of so many years be­ing passed ?

毛泽东的童年生活,应该是温暖的,快乐的。然而,从毛泽东对斯诺的讲述中,人们发现,他的年少时光,过得并不愉快,甚至有些压抑。而这一切,都与父亲毛顺生不无关系。提起儿时对父亲的感受,毛泽东毫不避讳地说:“我开始学会了恨他。”究竟怎样的伤害,让他多年之后,仍对父亲耿耿于怀呢?

Ini­tial Con­flict

As Mao de­scribed, the ini­tial con­flict be­tween his father and him fo­cused on his stud­ies. Mao was ex­pected to be im­mersed in the works of the clas­sics and his­tory at a pri­vate school, which was the dream of his father. “As far as I can re­mem­ber, my father was de­feated in court be­cause his ri­val defended him­self by quot­ing from the clas­sics.” The loss of a law­suit deeply hurt his heart. From then on, his father was even stricter on him—push­ing his son to me­morize all the clas­sics (Four Books & Five Clas­sics) and ap­ply the quo­ta­tions in prac­tice. Nev­er­the­less, Mao pre­ferred the fas­ci­nat­ing “leisure read­ings” such as The Le­gend of Yue Fei, Out­laws of the Marsh, Story of Sui & Tang Dy­nas­ties, Ro­mance of the Three King­doms, and Jour­ney to the West over the bor­ing and some­times dull works of the clas­sics.

Un­sat­is­fied with Mao's be­hav­ior, rigid pedan­tic tu­tors com­plained to his father about Mao's non­com­pli­ance. When­ever these com­plaints came, Mao Shun­sheng burst out with rage and in­dis­crim­i­nately beat Mao un­mer­ci­fully, which led to an un­bridge­able gap be­tween father and son. Ac­cord­ing to Mao's rec­ol­lec­tion, the first time that he ran away from home was when he was 10 years old.

“I feared go­ing home and get­ting beaten, so I headed to the county town. Fi­nally, my fam­ily found me af­ter I had wan­dered for three days. To my sur­prise, when I was home, there was an im­prove­ment in the ‘cir­cum­stances.’ My

最初的矛盾

从毛泽东的描述中,他和父亲最初的矛盾,主要表现在读书上。当时,父亲送他念私塾,是希望他能苦读经史,“尤其一次打官司,法庭上,由于对方引经据典,导致法官判父亲败诉”,这件事让毛顺生很受刺激。从此,他更加严格要求儿子,希望儿子能熟读四书五经,并引经据典,学以致用。然而,年少的毛泽东对枯燥的经书很不感冒,他更喜欢读的,是那些引人入胜的闲书,如《精忠传》《水浒传》《隋唐演义》《三国演义》《西游记》等等。

毛泽东的这种做法,让教学死板、抱守经典的塾师们甚是不满,有时见训他不灵,就向他父亲大告其状。每当这时,毛顺生总是火冒三丈,常常不问青红皂白,上来就拳打脚踢,父子关系剑拔弩张。据毛泽东回忆,十岁那年,他曾为此第一次离家出走。

“我不敢回家,怕挨打,便朝县城方向走去。乱跑三天之后,终于被我的家人找到了。我回家之后,想不到情形有点改善,我父亲比以前稍微体谅了一些,老师的态度也比较温和一些。我的抗议行动有了效果,这给我留下深刻的印象,这次罢课胜利了。”

除了读书上的分歧,毛顺生管教粗暴,苛刻抠门,也让儿子深为不满。在毛泽东的眼里,他就是一个严厉的监工。

“他看不得我闲着,如果没有账要记,就叫我去农田干活。他性情暴躁,常常打我和两个弟弟。他一文钱也不给我们,给我们吃的是最差的。他每月十五对雇工们特别开恩,给他们鸡蛋下饭,可从来没有肉,对于我们,他既不给蛋,更不给肉。”

父亲的这种冷酷,给儿时的毛泽东,留下了深深的心理阴影,以至多年后,说起这些往事,他仍显得愤愤难平。

父亲的憧憬

毛顺生认为,一个人受穷,是因为他习性懒惰,命运不济,没什么值得怜悯的。毛泽东的母亲,对弱势人群,天性中就富有同情心。

“母亲可怜穷人,他们在荒年

father was a lit­tle more con­sid­er­ate and the tu­tors were a bit gen­tler as well. What im­pressed me was that my protest had taken ef­fect. In short, the strike ended in suc­cess.”

Be­sides the di­ver­gence of their views in study, Mao was also dis­gusted by the char­ac­ter­is­tics of his father, i.e. stern dis­ci­pline, ex­ces­sive sever­ity, and mean­ness. In the eye of Mao, his father was noth­ing but a se­vere su­per­vi­sor.

“He asked me to work around the clock, ei­ther keep­ing ac­counts or work­ing on our farm­land. He was iras­ci­ble; he of­ten beat my broth­ers and me. He never gave us any money and fed us poorly. He be­stowed fa­vors on the hired hands on the 15th day of each month by feed­ing them eggs with rice, but pork was never avail­able. How­ever, he didn't give us eggs, and still less pork.”

The father was char­ac­ter­ized as cal­lous. This trau­ma­tized Mao so deeply as a child, that he still felt dis­tressed re­call­ing the past af­ter so many years.

Father's Vi­sion

Ac­cord­ing to Mao Shun­sheng, there was lit­tle sym­pa­thy for a man in poverty at­trib­ut­able to his lazi­ness and ad­ver­sity. On the con­trary, his mother was en­dowed with com­pas­sion for the dis­ad­van­taged.

“My mother sym­pa­thized with the poor. She al­ways 讨饭的时候,她常常给他们饭吃。如果我父亲在场,她就不能这样做了,因为父亲是不赞成施舍的。家里曾为这件事多次争吵。”正因敬仰母亲的慈悲,藐视父亲的冷漠,平时爱动恻隐之心,毛泽东没少和父亲发生争执。

另外,毛泽东与父亲在人生目标的取向上,也相去甚远。最令他讨厌的就是,父亲总想按自己的人生模板,来塑造儿子的未来。有时几杯老酒入肚,毛顺生就情不自禁向两个儿子描绘他心中的蓝图:“润之这两年,先把田里的担子挑起来,这样爹就能专心做生意。等过两年,润之去学做买卖,润莲(毛泽民)接替你哥,去管田里的事。想当年,你爷爷留下那么个烂摊子,爹爹我都靠辛勤努力,让毛家有了这么好的根基。今后,只要咱爷仨齐心协力,勤俭持家,我敢说不出一二十年,毛家就可置田百亩,成为远近闻名的富户。到那时,我含饴弄孙,安享天年,死也无憾了。”

听了父亲的幸福憧憬,毛泽东很是不屑,对做一个腰缠万贯的土财主,更是厌恶透顶。那时的他,向往的是能像梁山好汉一样,去过有血有肉的生活,渴望能像三国豪杰那样,拥有叱咤风云的一生。

性格的冲突

毛泽东与父亲很多方面观点不同,摩擦不断,但

gave food to them in the years of famine, al­though not in the pres­ence of father due to his objection. Con­se­quently, the fam­ily quar­reled over that issue from time to time.” It was be­cause Mao revered mother's mercy and de­spised his father's cal­lous­ness that he tended to em­pathize with the weak and ar­gued with his father about it.

In ad­di­tion, Mao's phi­los­o­phy was also a far cry from that of his father. What dis­gusted Mao most was that father im­posed his own roadmap on his sons. Some­times af­ter hav­ing a drink, father would spon­ta­neously for­mu­late his master plan in front of the sons, en­vis­ag­ing “in these years, Run­zhi (Mao) shall take over the farm­land so that I can fo­cus on busi­ness; Run­lian (Mao’s brother) shall follow his el­der brother to take the farm­land af­ter­wards when Run­zhi gets started in busi­ness. It is my hard work that has turned around the mess from your grand­par­ents and es­tab­lished this fam­ily’s solid foun­da­tion. In the fu­ture, as long as we work to­gether and keep in­dus­tri­ous & thrifty, I am con­fi­dent that we will pos­sess hun­dreds of acres of farmlands and be­come a widely known and wealthy fam­ily. Then I will en­joy my twi­light years and die with­out any re­grets.”

Mao went against father's wish and ex­pressed dis­dain for his father's so-called bril­liant vi­sion, and more dis­taste for his greed. At that time, Mao yearned to live a true and all-pow­er­ful/fruit­ful life like the Liang­shan He­roes and Three King­doms He­roes.

Con­flict of Char­ac­ter

The fail­ure of see­ing eye-to-eye on many is­sues led to grow­ing fric­tion be­tween Mao and his father. How­ever, from a pro­found per­spec­tive, their con­fronta­tion was rooted in a con­flict of char­ac­ter.

Be­ing ar­bi­trary and head­strong, Mao Shun­sheng loved oth­ers’ com­pli­ance with him. In his opin­ion, father was the boss in this house; it was na­ture for the chil­dren to obey and follow his words and in­struc­tions. Unfortunately, Mao was a man of stub­born­ness and re­bel­lion. No mat­ter how oth­ers op­posed or com­pelled, Mao would as­sert him­self. In no sense would Mao sur­ren­der to the dark. In the end, it was a con­flict of char­ac­ter that brought Mao into the big­gest con­flicts with his father.

“When I was 13 years old, one day my father in­vited a lot of guests to our home. We ar­gued in front of them and father scolded me for lazi­ness and use­less­ness, which pro­voked me. I talked back to him and ran away from home. My mother anx­iously ran af­ter me and tried to per­suade me to go back; my father fol­lowed, curs­ing and in­struct­ing me to go home. I reached a pond and threat­ened that I would jump in if he stepped to­wards me. Father was some­what fright­ened but he in­sisted that I kow­tow and make an apol­ogy. I told father that I could go down on one knee if he promised not to beat me. Fi­nally, the war came to an end.”

In con­trast, Mao had af­fec­tion for mother. When­ever talk­ing about mother, he was pro­fuse in com­pli­ments that she was a noble-minded lady with kind­ness and gen­eros­ity. Mao com­mended his mother in his let­ter to class­mates, say­ing there were three kinds of men in the world; those who “harm oth­ers to ben­e­fit one­self,” those who “ben­e­fit one­self with­out harm­ing oth­ers,” and those that “harm one­self to ben­e­fit oth­ers”—the group to which he be­lieved his mother be­longed. Like­wise, his mother had a place in her heart for the el­der son. When­ever fights oc­curred

从更深层次上看,造成他们父子对立的根本原因,还是性格上的冲突。

毛顺生性格粗暴武断,专横跋扈,刚愎自用,喜欢别人顺从。他总觉得,既然我是一家之主,是当老子的,我说的话,我吩咐的事,做儿女的就应服从,就要执行。而毛泽东性格倔强,非常叛逆,他认为对的事,不管别人怎么反对,怎么阻拦,他都要坚持到底,不达目的誓不罢休;而他认为不对的事,即使再压再逼,再打再骂,他也决不妥协,更不屈服。正是这种性格上的对立,终于导致他们父子之间爆发一次巨大冲突。

“我 13岁的时候,有一次,父亲请了许多客人到家里,我俩在客人面前争论起来。父亲当众骂我懒惰无用,这激怒了我,我回顶了他,就离开了家。母亲急着追出来,竭力劝我回去,父亲也赶来,一边骂,一边命令我回去。我走到一个池塘边,恫吓他说,如果他再走近一步,我就跳下去。父亲有些怕了,但坚持要我磕头认错,我表示如果他答应不打我,我可以跪下一条腿磕头。战争就这样结束了。”

与对父亲的态度相反,对母亲,毛泽东则是一往情深。每当和别人说起母亲,他总是充满赞美之辞:“我母亲为人慷慨厚道,总是愿意帮助别人,是个心地善良、品格高尚的女性。”在给同学的信中,他还曾这样说:“世上有三种人:损人利己的人;利己而不损人的人;可以损己而利人的人。而我母亲正是这后一种人。”当然,对大儿子,母亲也格外偏爱。每当父子俩发生矛盾,她总是站在儿子一边,极力维护儿子的尊严。

父亲的影响

正因有母亲的斡旋,父子俩的对立情绪,才开始有所缓和,而且在某些方面,毛泽东对父亲的坏脾气,也学会了忍耐和忍受。

“他的严酷不能说全没好处,它使我更勤快地干活,更仔细地记账,以免有把柄让他抓住。”

虽在原则问题上,毛泽东从未停止争斗,甚至以离家出走,要跳池塘相威胁,但总体上看,那时的他,不想与父亲彻底闹僵。他所做的各种抗争,更多的成分,还是想从父亲那里,获得应有的权益和尊重。

最生动的例子是,当他向斯诺讲完跳水塘的故事,曾不无得意地说:“我从这件事认识到,如果公开反抗,保卫自己的权利,父亲就软下来,可如果我仍温顺驯服,他反而打骂我更厉害。”

从和父母的关系看,毛泽东属于典型的抗父爱母,可纵观毛泽东的性格,你却会发现,他反而受父亲的影响更多。比如,毛顺生的勤奋执着,刚毅果敢,坚强不屈,永不服输,理性务实,脚踏实地……甚至包括他的刚愎、独断、固执这些特点,都在儿子身上,烙下深深的印迹。

当然,与毛顺生的吝啬、冷漠、刻板、只知赚钱、缺乏情趣不同,毛泽东情感丰富,富于想象,有很强的同情心。有时他还很感性,常常睹物思人,多愁善感。这些性格特征,恰恰折射出母亲的影子。

一位研究毛泽东的学者指出:“读毛泽东的诗词,你会觉得他想象力超强,思维跳跃,是一个浪漫的诗人。可你再研究毛泽东与蒋介石的博弈,又发现他精于算度,非常谨慎,极为冷静,不抱一丝侥幸,他又是一位超理性的政治家。令人惊奇的是,这反差极大的两面性格,却在毛泽东的身上,实现了兼容。” (摘自《解读青年毛泽东》中央文献出版社)

be­tween father and son, she al­ways sup­ported the son to main­tain his dig­nity.

Father’s In­flu­ence

It was mother’s me­di­a­tion that al­le­vi­ated the an­tag­o­nism be­tween father and son. To some cer­tain ex­tent, thanks to his father’s bad tem­per, Mao also learned to be­come pa­tient and en­durable.

“Frankly speaking, I don’t think his sever­ity was for noth­ing—it pushed me to work harder on the farm­land and keep ac­counts more care­fully, lest he have any­thing against me.”

Al­though he never stopped fight­ing for the prin­ci­ple is­sues, Mao didn’t want to end the re­la­tion­ship with his father at that time. The var­i­ous strug­gles Mao con­ducted were to gain the rights and re­spects from his father that he felt he de­served.

When telling the story about the pond, Mao said proudly “I am aware of the truth that if I pub­licly protest for my rights, father will com­pro­mise; oth­er­wise, he will just give me a good beat­ing or per­haps worse.”, which il­lus­trated the no­tion above.

In view of the at­tach­ment to his par­ents, Mao de­fied father and loved his mother. How­ever, af­ter pon­der­ing over his per­son­al­ity, it even­tu­ally came to light that Mao is more af­fected by his father. Mao was im­pressed with his father’s char­ac­ter­is­tics such as dili­gence and per­sis­tence, for­ti­tude and un­yield­ing­ness, ra­tio­nal­ism and prag­ma­tism, and even his opin­ion­ated stub­born tem­per­a­ment.

Nev­er­the­less, dif­fer­ent from his father’s cru­elty, cal­lous­ness, in­flex­i­bil­ity, and money-driven men­tal­ity, Mao had a good imag­i­na­tion and great com­pas­sion, and was in­clined to be emo­tional and sen­ti­men­tal, which was re­flec­tive of his mother’s dis­po­si­tion.

One scholar on Mao’s life pointed out “Mao is con­sid­ered to be a ro­man­tic poet in pos­ses­sion of the ut­most imag­i­na­tion and a vig­or­ous mind as seen through his poetry, while also be­ing a su­per-ra­tio­nal politi­cian— not only pro­fi­cient in spec­u­la­tion, but also cau­tious, calm, and prag­matic, even in the ri­valry be­tween him and Chi­ang Kai-shek. What as­ton­ished us is that the two types of per­son­al­i­ties that his par­ents had, in such stark con­trast to each other, were uni­fied and har­mo­nized in Mao.”

(From In­ter­pre­ta­tion of Young Mao Ze­dong by Cen­tral Party Lit­er­a­ture Press)

● Mao Ze­dong’s Res­i­dence 毛泽东故居

● Mao Ze­dong and His Son, Mao Any­ing 毛泽东与毛岸英

● Mao Ze­dong and Chi­ang Kai-shek 毛泽东与蒋介石

● Mao Ze­dong and Henry Kissinger 毛泽东与基辛格

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