Written by Dai Sijie, and published in english in 2001, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a contemporary piece with a classical story. The book is about a boy, known to us as “The Narrator,” and his friend Luo. It takes place in communist China. Luo is the son of a well known dentist, while the Narrator is the son of a lung specialist and a consultant in parasitic disease. Due to their parents’ education and status, the boys are sent to a mountainous village to be re-educated. While there, the boys live in treacherous conditions and live life, similar to that of Sisyphus, but instead of a boulder, they carry sewage. The Narrator possesses the skill of playing the violin beautifully, while Luo was graced with a story telling ability. While being re-educated, they become acquaintances with The Little Seamstress, eventually becoming more. They begin to read her stories, which they steal, and begin to put their lives in danger. By then, it gets interesting. One major scene that showcases their actions is when Luo has to tend to his sick mother, pages 158 to 160, leaving the Narrator watching over the Little Seamstress. Within this passage, the Narrator’s usual tone drastically changes into a militant attitude which reveals that when he is put into a position of power, he conforms to the idea that he should be emotionless and straight to the point, similar to how a communist would take charge. This also reveals that he is not much different from what he hates
Imagine being kidnapped and forced to work night and day on purses, in addition hardly any food or rest. In Threads, a novel by Ami Polonsky, Yuming, a thirteen-year-old girl, is trapped inside of a pink factory along with twenty-two other children, who are rumored to have been there for almost ten years. After finding a small piece of scrap paper, Yuming writes a note desperately asking for help and sticks it inside one of the purses. Clara, a twelve-year-old girl, finds the note inside of a purse at the Bellman’s department store in Evanston, Illinois. The note Yuming wrote stated “The middle of May. To Whom It May Concern: Please, we need help! There is pale pink factory, few hours outside of Beijing, somewhere in Hebei Province. 22 children in
Luo decides to undertake the project of educating the Little Seamstress by reading books by western authors to her in hopes that she will learn from the characters in the stories and try to adopt their civilized ways. The Little seamstress forms a connection with the books almost instantaneously from her first exposure to Western Literature. According to Luo, “after I had read the passage from Balzac to her word for word...she took your coat and reread the whole thing, in silence. When she’d finished reading, she sat there quite still, open-mouthed. Your coat was resting on the flat of her hands, the way a sacred object lies in the palms of the pious” (Sijie 62). The is astounded by the wise words of Balzac and it is and eye opening experience for her. Through Sieves diction in this passage, the word “pious” also indicated that reading books is also a sacred or spiritual experience for the Little Seamstress. This moment is one of the most significant in the whole text, because it makes the beginning of the Seamstress's Transformation, by showing the great effect that literature has on her. From the Little Seamstress’
Stories give people new ideas and experiences along with lessons that they are unable to realize in their own lives. The narrator feels as though he is in the land of Balzac’s Ursule Mirouёt even though he has never before seen France. He is so fascinated with the story that he does not put the book down until he has finished the last page (Sijie 57). This allows him to experience life in an entirely different manner from which he is accustomed. From these stories, the boys gain insights into thoughts and emotions that are completely foreign to them. While Luo visits the Little Seamstress telling her of the stories he as read, the narrator feels one of these unfamiliar emotions. He states, “Suddenly I felt a stab of jealousy, a bitter wrenching emotion I had never felt before” (58). Although jealousy is not usually seen as a good feature and while this emotional awakening may seem like a negative effect of storytelling to some readers, it is actually an amazing accomplishment. Stories provide their readers with a new perception of life. They are able to feel what they have never felt, to see what they have never seen, and to be what they have never been. While these experiences may not be the most enjoyable, all experiences leave people with a more extensive idea of what life really is.
The protagonist, Shinji, in The Sound of Waves can be contrasted to the protagonist, the narrator, in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Shinji found a girl, Hatsue, which he loved, and pursued to go after her even when it was forbidden by her father. On the other hand, the narrator loved the Little Seamstress, but didn’t go after her because his best friend, Luo, already had a growing relationship with her. Since Shinji was determined to win Hatsue’s heart, he went after her. This action of
In communist, Mao-ruled China, children were ripped from their families to be “reeducated” to have individual intellect snuffed out and made to better fit the mold of the ideal communist. Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Seamstress tells the story of two boys subjected to this practice. A boy named Luo and an unnamed narrator who are put through the difficulties of being forced into another way of life. . In pages 142-144 the headman of the village the protagonists are staying in comes to arrest the narrator for telling forbidden western tales. To avoid this arrest the protagonists decided to help the headman with a tooth decay. While the narrator controls the speed of the makeshift drill, he starts to slow down the rotation speed to
In the novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie, it can be observed that through another character’s perspective as well as their own, Luo and the Seamstress’ relationship is less than ideal and what once may have been a whimsical experience would soon fall from its glorious state.
Lou lost the Little Seamstress to individualism and her wanting to have free will. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress suggests that we as people evolve in our lives. We learn thing about ourselves and change our perspectives based off of our experiences. One of the major themes in this novel is that you cannot dominate people completely and try to force people to do things then you are in the place of power. The human imagination cannot be restricted and put into a box called communism. The Little Seamstress realized that Luo was trying to control her like the government authorities of China was trying to do to their people towards the end of the book when she says told Luo that “she had learnt one thing from Balzac: that a woman’s beauty is a treasure beyond price” (184). People are going to want to live as individuals freely and find a way to escape the rules. The topic of not being able to fully dominate and control people is a topic that is still relevant to today’s
Written by Dai Sijie, and published in English in 2001, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a contemporary piece with a classic story. The book is about a boy, known to us as “The Narrator,” and his friend Luo. It takes place in communist China. Luo is the son of a well known dentist, while the Narrator is the son of a lung specialist and a consultant in parasitic disease. Due to their parents’ education and status, the boys are sent to a mountain village to be re-educated. While there, the boys live in treacherous conditions and live life, similar to that of Sisyphus, but instead of a boulder, they carry sewage. The Narrator possesses the skill of playing the violin beautifully, while Luo was graced with a story telling ability. While being re-educated, they become acquaintances with The Little Seamstress, eventually becoming more. They begin to read her stories, which they steal, and begin to put their lives in danger. By then, it gets interesting. One major scene that showcases their actions is when Luo has to tend to his sick mother, pages 158 to 160, leaving the Narrator watching over the Little Seamstress. Within this passage, the Narrator’s usual tone drastically changes into a militaristic attitude which reveals that when he is put into a position of power, he conforms to the idea that he should be emotionless and straightforward, in order to hide his true desires.
The tailor finds another way to escape the controlling grip of Mao. On his customary tour of the villages before the New Year, the tailor decides to stay with Luo and the narrator while working in their village. The two are baffled upon the
In the novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress written by Dai Sijie, the interaction between Luo, the Narrator, and the headman reveals the purpose of re-education and its cultural values that shaped Chinese culture and shows the impact that it left on characters such as Luo and The Narrator. Not only does the Chinese government encourage re-education, but through this, it discourages individuality and showing your intellectual abilities.
Love can immensely impact a person so much, entirely changing their character. In Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, the theme of love blossoms throughout the story. In the novel, two teenage boys are sent to be re-educated during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Lou, an exceptional storyteller and the unnamed narrator, a talented musician, meet “the region’s reigning beauty”: the Little Seamstress. Both fall in love with the illiterate girl, however Lou has won the Seamstress’ heart. Through the Seamstress’ relationship with Luo, she has revealed a deep fascination for the outside world, developing characteristics such as being curious and outgoing.
Providing the two heroines with strong and engaging personalities, the novel portrays the life of two young Chinese girls, who because of historical events and family secrets, have to grow up faster than what they had planned. The book delivers emotional themes that are powerful yet familiar, and is written in a compelling manner.
The Narrator is not free of such infractions, either. On page 162, when he is reading to the Seamstress in Luo’s stead, the Narrator says he is “merely a substitute reader” to her, but goes on to claim that “She even seemed to appreciate my way of reading... more than my predecessor’s”. He is reading too deeply into her opinion of him, and feels a sense of entitlement to her affections; he tricks himself into thinking she is more into him than she is her actual boyfriend. Later on, once he learns that the Seamstress is pregnant and seeking an abortion, he “summoned every means of persuasion to stop her from running to the sorceresses for a herbal remedy” (page 172). Describing her as “running” off on her own shows his own lack of trust in the Seamstress’s judgement, and reveals that he thinks she is irrational. On top of this, nearing the novel’s end at page 196, the Narrator is indignant that the Seamstress “had not thought to tell [him]” about her plans to run away to the city. His entitlement to her affections shines through once again, in that she didn’t even want to tell her actual boyfriend about her
In this paper, I will discuss three different works by Silko (Lullaby, Storyteller, and Yellow Woman). Each of the stories will be discussed according to plot, style, and social significance. After that, I will relate Silko’s work to other literary genies and analyze her work as a whole.
Luo finds himself caught between attractions of The Seamstress and feelings of superiority towards her. In the novel, Balzac and The Little Seamstress, written by Dai Sijie, one of the main character’s, Luo, finds himself evaluating the same lack of awareness. Throughout the novel, Luo often treats the Seamstress as if she is not something of importance, resulting him to act as a more superior figure than her.