Essay on Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress

Categories: ChinesePhilosophy

In the novel, Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress, it presents the collective effect of the Western books on the young minds of Luo, the Little Seamstress and the Narrator. while they were exposed to the same thoughts as gleaned from the legendary writings of iconic western authors--Balzac in particular--their interpretations made the ultimate difference. Dai Sijie demonstrates three reactions toward the books. One being materialistic, a spiritual, and a combination of both.

While Luo did read the books that he and the Narrator got their hands on, he was particularly fixated with the work of Balzac, the first of which was about a “French story of love and miracles” (Sijie 57).

With this at his possession, Luo proceeded to use the book’s allure to capture the heart of the Little Seamstress, and view her as his own version of a storybook princess.

Sijie demonstrates the truth of  aterialism and how it is one of the biggest use for manipulation to achieve what they desire from someone or an object through Luo’s character.

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In this situation, Luo’s relationship with the books had more to do with his goal to conquer rather than to enrich his mind.

For The Little Chinese Seamstress, the books were just stories that Luo and the Narrator would read to her but later on, it acquired her knowledge of her beauty, allowing her to move forward and embark on a new life. By taking Balzac’s words to the heart “a woman’s beauty is a treasure beyond price” (184), she set forth to make use of the quality she knew she had to explore opportunities to separate her from the life she was doomed to live.

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Sijie uncovers how literature represents a living body of work that speaks to humans of all ages and is tool to help us explore our thoughts, behaviors, preconceived notions and in a larger way to find out for ourselves and what it means to be human, in a way us individuals didn't have possible. For the seamstress, Literature offered her not just the modern uncommunistic life described to her by Luo, but also the understanding that she had to part of the world, for her new dreams to be realized.

The magic of the books spun so engagingly and a thought-provoking manner, it eventually showed the specific need of each individual. While the narrator and Luo were marked for re-education as a requisite for Cultural Revolution, the Little Seamstress, on the other hand was in a dire need of education. The ending reveals the outcome of their goals in term of friendship, love and respect.

Updated: Apr 13, 2021
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Essay on Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Essay on Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress essay
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