Similarities and Differences of the Narrative Structure of Western and Chinese Short Narratives


  • Yujun Liu School of Foreign Languages, Qingdao University of Science and Technology Box 502, No. 99 Songling Road, Qingdao, Shandong, China, 266061



Narrative Framework, Narrative Units, RST (Rhetorical Structure Theory), Short Narratives.


The author chooses both Chinese and English short narratives as samples to analyze their narrative structures so as to testify one presupposition that Chinese people and western people are different in ways of thinking that can be reflected in the narrative structures of their writing. Twelve Chinese short narratives and ten English short narratives are listed from ancient to modern time in their chronological order. The author divides each sample into narrative units in the light of the theory of structuralist narratology and defines the relations between narrative units with different relation definitions according to the Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST). On this theoretical basis, the author illustrates all the diagrams of 22 samples with marked relation definitions, which are sorted out and rated so as to compare and contrast the logical relations in those Chinese and western narrative frameworks. The conclusion proves that the narrative frameworks of both English and Chinese short narratives are generally similar to each other in structure from ancient times except for a few differences in modern times. English short narratives tend to emphasize originality and individuality, as well as logical reasoning and linear order for westerners tend to be increasingly thinking for clarity and logical consistency since Socrates and Aristotle. Meanwhile, Chinese people tend to be thinking and writing in a spiral and complete circle echoing the traditional yin-and-yang principle and five-element principle until the “May 4th of 1918”, during which Chinese opened their mind to accept westerner’s science and democracy.  


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