Soon after, Mulan supposedly ran away from her home in the dead of night to a nearby Chinese army camp where, still dressed as her opposite gender, she began to train for the war that was coming. Throughout passing days, Mulan practiced hard and with enthusiasm, learned the ways of a warrior as well as the martial arts. Details of Mulans’s actual fighting years are vague, but this much, at least, is understood: After forming herself into the most able-bodied and skilled fighter she was capable of becoming, Mulan went to war. Even though where and what actions took place in these battles are unclear, it has been stated as a fact that Mulan fought with a fierceness, determination, and bravery that many of the imperial generals leading the Chinese army had never seen seize a soldier so deeply. These characteristics gave Mulan the privilege to sprout hope in her companions and to lead troops to countless victories. As her skill increased, her small position as just another ant in a colony rose to the much higher office of a general. For ten years Mulan went thus into many a bloody battle, ten years in which Mulan’s true sex was known to only her, until the Mongolians were driven from the Chinese territory and China was once again peaceful and without war. Soldiers were once again allowed to return to their homes.

However, before Mulan could return to her family, she was sent for by Emperor Khan. The female general anxiously traveled to the city of Loyang. Had the Emperor discovered that she was a woman? Was she now being called forth to be executed for the law she broke? It turned out that, no this was not the reason for her calling. Instead, she was offered, by Emperor Khan himself, a government post as a gift of gratitude for her (though she was still thought to be a ‘he’) many years of courageous and astounding acts on the battle field. Mulan knew that the Emperor was offering her a great honor, a chance that she could have to gain greater respect and wealth for her family: an opportunity where she would be treated much more than a prize to be won in marriage. Yet she declined this offer, this amazing opportunity to become more. Alternatively, she asked of the Emperor that he give her something she ached for, had dreamt of and desired for ten years: simply a fast steed which she could borrow to ride home. Home. It was greater than any gift.

And home Mulan did go, bringing tears of happiness and love to the eyes of her family, eyes which had long ago shed droplets of grief for their dear daughter/sister which they thought long ago had become deceased in battle. Mulan rejoiced with her relatives and once again changed into feminine clothing which had become so unfamiliar and strange to her. Months after her return home, Mulan was given a surprise visit by old battle comrades. The shock they experienced at seeing their general was a woman I cannot possibly describe. Perhaps it was an abrupt sensation, like a slap across the face when you discover that your favorite dog has been missing for two days and you hadn’t realized its absence. How could you not have noticed? Or maybe it was a jolly sort of acceptance, something they laughed at for their own stupidity. Ha ha, how dumb are we not to have realized this long ago? Ha ha! Or, possibly, it was subtle, like a person finding out for the first time that their only friend was a schizophrenic image, a shock so utterly unreal, so astounding that you simply cannot believe it. How can something you trusted as true for so long not be what it seemed? But the proof was there before their very eyes.

It will never be known for certain what exactly became of Hua Mulan in her later years of life. Some say she died fighting in one last battle, others that she committed suicide, preferring to die rather than go along with a marriage she did not agree with, or that she wed an army general. But none of these endings consist of Mulan paying the fatal punishment for her years in war, never consist of her paying the price of life for the law she disobeyed. Why? Maybe the Chinese finally began to understand that when cooperation is called for, you must put your natural characteristics, such as race and gender, aside. You may be surprised at how much one person can do if you ignore differences and just give them a chance. By this simple method, you can make many differences: it made the Chinese realize that, perhaps, women are more than just figures to be sold off after all.

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