Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a marvelous novel, written by Dai Sijie, which himself was re-educated between 1971 and 1974 during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Seamstress three separate accounts are given of an incident in which Luo and the Little Seamstress make love in an isolated mountain pool. Two of these perspectives are given by the participants while the third is provided by the old miller who observes their love making from a distance. Of all the accounts, I found the count of this incident of Little Seamstress most appealing as she is able to present at an imaginative description of this setting and allow the readers to understand her thoughts and feelings. In contrast the …show more content…
Her account of this incident appealed to be in part because of her description of the underwater scenery. Her description is both visual and tactile. Similes describe the stones underwater as “small and smooth like pale eggs” and others “as big as human heads.” She relates the description to things which she is familiar with in her surroundings such as “strangely jutting curves like buffalo horns.” The contrasting words such as smooth, sharp and jagged all help the reader imagine the bottom of the pool. This passage also reveals a side of the Little Seamstress’s character which has not been revealed, her independence of her mind. This is where she explains why she loves to dive for Luo’s key ring. She rejects that she is “I’m like a silly dog that keeps running to fetch the stick thrown by its master. I’m not like those young French girls Balzac talks about. I’m a mountain girl.” This shows her
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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.
Mao Dun, or rather his true name Shen Dehong, was a 20th century novelist and later the Minister of Culture of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1965. He is considered one of the most well-known and celebrated left-wing realist writers of modern China and is best known for two of his stories, Ziya and Spring Silkworms, the latter which will be referenced throughout this essay. Spring Silkworms tells the story of an elderly man named Old Tong Bao, his family, and his village as they prepare for the coming silk worm season. Throughout the story, we are able to get a sense of the desperation and turmoil that Old Tong Bao’s village is experiencing. From learning about the debt that his family has, how they had to sacrifice food in
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
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.
Storytelling can be found in every corner of the world. It is used to pass the time, tell of past or current events, and is the way that we communicate with each other. In Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie, storytelling occurs during times of hopelessness when life seems hard and allows the characters to live vicariously through the tales told. The narrator and Luo use storytelling as an escape from reality in times of desperation. The tailor is influenced by the stories to the point where he changes the style of clothing he creates to escape the boundaries of Mao approved clothing. The importance of storytelling to the little seamstress is that she learns the importance of beauty, and is able to leave the current life
After she begins to dress the way a city girl would dress, and act the way a city girl would act, she makes the seemingly sudden decision to leave for the city and start her new life there. When asked why she did, why she would make such a sudden change on the very last page, Luo quoted her saying, “She said she had learnt one thing from Balzac; that a woman’s beauty is a treasure beyond price.” This sudden and drastic change was very unlikely based solely on her actions. However, like all ideas, her transformation was not entirely spontanious. She had thought about what she would do, perhaps for a very long time. Although it is not obviously stated, her thought process beginning to change was hinted at long before she chose to leave. “Suddenly swung her head around to face us. ‘About those books of his- what if we stole them.?’” (Sijie, 89) At the time, this strikes the reader as somewhat uncharacteristic. Before this, she had been very mild mannered and chose to go along with the will of others. So much so that one would assume that she would not act on her own will. Because of this, one could argue that her seemingly abrupt transformation was due to the actions of Luo wanting to change her. While this claim is understandable, it is not really true. Yes, Luo did tell her the stories and attempt to make the little seamstress more cultured. In many ways, he succeeded in doing so. However, he was only the messenger, the means of getting
The narrator suddenly pauses to add dramatic effect as he is speaking, as he does, Luo softly whispers “Right now … you're doing better than me. You should have been a writer”(125). Luo is the main storyteller, so therefore when the narrator obtains a compliment from him he gets a sense of hope that he could do something with his life even in the midst of the cultural revolution where he is constantly restrained from being himself. The narrator uses the books to escape the containment of just being Lou’s friend, he switches the roles and he takes the upper hand. Through the novel, the narrator gains the courage to be his own self and never be in the shadow of Luo again. In contrast to the narrator, Luo is inspired by the books to persevere in times of sickness. Luo uses the knowledge from the stories to keep hope alive even when things seem to go downhill. Luo, one day, receives a letter from the Little Chinese Seamstress, as Luo and the narrator are talking. She petitions Luo to journey down to her village and tell her one of his stories. Luo at the time of receiving the letter attains malaria, nonetheless he still wants to see the Little Seamstress. He makes the journey, but when they get there he is hit with another wave malaria, making him unable to perform. Therefore, the narrator tells the story to the Little Chinese Seamstress. The narrator illustrates a story
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.
In the novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, author Dai Sijie utilizes character experiences to reveal different important aspects of the characters and their personalities. One passage that exemplifies this is on pages 143-144. The headman of Luo and the Narrator’s village overhears the Narrator reciting stories to the tailor and gives them an ultimatum that if they don’t fix his tooth, then he will report the Narrator to the authorities. The passage picks up when the Narrator is taking over the job of running the sewing machine with a needle attached to act like a dental drill. The focus is on his range of emotions as he goes through the process. The experience of attempting to repair the headman’s tooth help the Narrator to realize his own frustrations with re-education revealing that it’s difficult for him to interpret his emotions.
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
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.
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