Summary Of Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress

861 Words4 Pages
Written in 2000, Dai Sijie’s Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress is a way for the author to portray his own experience of re-education in the mountains of Sichuan Province, and how the historical event of re-education from 1968-1975 supplied the framework for a very powerful story. The passage being analyzed is from pages 142-144 in which the narrator is threatened by the village headman for spreading “recreationary filth” and in order to avoid prosecution, the two main characters; the Narrator and Luo, agree to try and fix the village headman's tooth. In this suspenseful scene the relationship between Luo and the Headman reveals the negative psychological effects of living a life of limited freedom.

The headman's cooperation during his torturous dental procedure suggests that some things are more important than the enforcement of communism. The passage begins with the author using violent diction, commenting how the “excruciating pain” propelled the headman off the bed, and his “violent reaction almost upset the oil lamp.” This violent diction clearly states one of the worst case scenarios of repressing knowledge and education. It suggests that if not for the exile of all educated civilians such as dentists, the headman would not be forced to endure such barbarous pain from a his makeshift drill, and instead could receive genuine painless care from a professional. As the passage goes on the narrator asks rhetorical questions such as “how could this tyrant, this political and economic despot, this police chief, ever resign himself to being restrained?.” These rhetorical questions illustrate how the feeling of pain from the headman's tooth is more important than his strict enforcement of communism. This moral conflict between what is believed to be right versus what you desire is brought into question, as the headman who has dedicated his entire life to serving the communist regime chooses his own desires over what is expected, breaking his morals. Further along in the passage the author uses powerful diction to describe how the narrator was given the “awesome task of gripping the patient's head,” and how the new responsibility filled him with “trepidation.” The use of powerful diction implies
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