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Through the narrator’s reflections on his childhood, desire, love, and rejection are poignantly explored in same-sex and heterosexual dynamics. His contemplations of the deaths he encountered as a child add a level of spiritual meditation. Like Spinoza’s free man, the narrator aspires to think about life, but is stuck with memories of deaths of friends and family members: suicides by hanging, shooting, drowning, a stillborn child, a child who dies from illness. For the narrator, life is more frightening than death. Holding on to the Christian beliefs that his grandparents turned to amid the chaos of China’s twentieth century, the narrator counts himself among those who admire death as an aspect of God’s sublime wisdom. By sharing his memories of death and desire under a regime where these topics are not always speakable, he hopes to move a little closer to freedom.

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