Oct. 9, 2017
Ap English Lang & Comp
In the book, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, written by Dai Sijie. The setting of this book takes place in Communist China, during the re-education period. The Story is based around two young men, the Narrator and his best friend Luo, who find themselves tossed into the middle of this re-education program. From pgs. 166-168, we witness an interesting conflict between the Narrator and his relation to the little Seamstress. In this section of the story, Luo has left the village that the Narrator and Luo are being re-educated due to his mother becoming ill. The Narrator was left with the task of watching over the Seamstress. Throughout this part, the narrator refers to himself as like a secret agent watching over her. This is an interesting way of describing his situation This is highlighted in this passage, pg 166-pg 168, the Narrator encounters a band of want to be suitors of the Seamstress. Narrator then falls under assault from the band and narrowly escapes. Following Narrator's arrival back in his village for the night, Narrator's reaction to what happened reveals more about him as a character as well as his relation to the Seamstress. In the current place in the story, the narrator's relationship between him and the seamstress paints us a brighter picture of how the morals of the Narrator are clashing with his true desires and causing the Narrator to feel remorse for himself.
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According to the Online Dictionary, the “Chinese Cultural Revolution” is defined as “a movement in China, beginning in the year 1966 and led by Mao Zedong, to restore the vitality of communism in China.” To begin, the Chinese Cultural Revolution performed a significant role in establishing the setting and conflicts in the novel of “Red Scarf Girl”. The setting of the story took place in the city of Shanghai, specifically throughout the course of two and a half years from the year 1966 to 1969. The protagonist and narrator of the story, Ji Li Jiang, was a 12-year-old Chinese girl who lived as a wealthy resident in the brownstone apartments of Shanghai. As the story progressed, Ji Li developed alterations in her relationships with her peers at school, the perception of her goals and responsibilities in life, and knowledge of her family history in relation to her class-status in the community. Therefore, throughout the course of the story, it was evident that significant changes and development of the relationships, perceptions, and knowledge of Ji Li Jiang occurred as a result of the events that she experienced.
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 short story presents women as aware but misunderstood by men through use of narrative point of view. In society women are usually seen as inferior to men, and therefore often don’t get the acknowledgement they deserve. “The women held their secrets because when they mentioned it to their husbands or brothers they were laughed at….Instead of sympathy, the husbands and brothers now had a secret weapon”. This shows that women did not share their fears as it gave others ideas to torment them further. Women in the short story are also shown to be fully aware of the boy’s behaviour early on in the story. “The men of his home town said, but how
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
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
In the 20th century, the world saw the rise of many new political regimes that would redefine how the people of the world were governed. New political structures such as communism and Fascism took control in countries such as the USSR and Germany. Ultimately, all of these governments failed by the dawn of the 21st century, but the legacies they left behind have not been forgotten. China is one of these countries, and installed a communist government led by Mao in the mid 20th century. As part of their new regime, China instituted a process of re-education, where citizens would be educated in the ways of communist principles. The book Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress details two young Chinese men, the narrator and his friend Luo,
China is and always will be a land seen as mysterious to those with roots in Western culture. And in its own way, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie is what can happen when Western and Far Eastern culture interact. Outside of the cultural revolution, headed by Mao Zedong, which makes the whole novel possible, and was a push back against Western involvement in China, the novel includes many other ideas of cultural interaction. However, it also prominently provides complex emotions and changes within the characters who are followed throughout the novel. In fact, one passage in particular reveals much character change and development in the narrator of the story (who will simply be known as narrator for the entirety of this essay), and it occurs on the pages of 166 to 169. The passage is a daydream of the narrator’s after having taken a beating by a band of hooligans and potential suitors of the Little Seamstress. In it, readers can see the narrator develop to the same sort of manhood as Luo: the satisfaction of changing something and reaching independence. However, after reaching this stage, he also realizes the drawbacks to having done so, causing him to feel remorse for his actions. This is achieved by the narrator’s expression of hidden desires he developed over time and what lustful feelings and desperation accompany them.
Change can be a scary thing, especially when it comes to where one lives. Set in China, the novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie, is narrated by a seventeen year old boy, and follows him and his best friend, Luo, during the Cultural Revolution, a time of immense change in China’s history. The year is 1971. Chairman Mao, the communist leader of China, has declared that a large number of children are to be moved to the countryside to be “‘re-educated by the poor peasants’”(6), the protagonist and his best friend being among those children. During the narrator’s time in the peasant village, both the he and Luo quickly fall in love with a girl they call Little Seamstress, a beautiful, local girl, whose father is a well known tailor. At the start of the novel the narrator hints at being in love with the seamstress, however he does not discuss his love for the Little Seamstress much. The narrator initially has a fear of his new environment, however he eventually adjusts to it, relaxing and allowing himself to dwell more upon his love for the Little Seamstress.
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
When life gives people lemons, they either make lemonade or get terrified and run. In a way, that is how Negative Capability works. People can either accept fate and make the best out of what life hands them, or they can crack under pressure and run away from their problems. According to John Keats, Negative Capability is the capacity to remain certain in the midst of doubt and uncertainty. This idea is especially exemplified through the literary works of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe; Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie and “An Open House” by James Hughes. These pieces of literature exhibit characters who both, possess Negative Capability or lack it. Consequently, they show that in times of adversity, those who do not possess Negative Capability are unable to successfully cope with disappointment in contrast to those who do have this characteristic.
Have you ever heard the fascinating Chinese story “The Story of Miss Li”? This short story is about two main characters. One being Miss Li, a beautiful young Prostitute, and a young man of great wealth and power. Soon in the story Miss Li finds the young man and convinces him to marry her. Unfortunately, two years later they spend all of their money and end up having nothing to their name. So, Miss Li, tricked the young man and left him with nothing to his name. years pass and the young man was very sick and almost dead, he runs into Miss Li one more time. Miss Li felt so terrible that she did this to him that she took him in and cared for him. Soon, she became an ideal Confucian woman and led him back to great wealth in power by helping him learn “the five texts” and making sure he was ready to take the Civil Serves Examination. Even though Miss Li was not what most Chinese call a proper woman, later became an ideal Confucian woman and wife by following the Admonitions for Women and the Analects for Women.
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.
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