Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress Analysis

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The novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is a novel by Dai Sijie set during the Cultural Revolution in China which lasted from 1966 until 1976. Even though the author’s main focus is not opposing Mao’s rule, acts of oppression and the strict control practiced by the government can often be observed in the book. The author focuses on the process of re-education which includes sending urban youth to rural areas. Sijie depicts the mental and physical development of two boys who are being re-educated on the Phoenix Mountain of the Sky. The novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress challenges the concept of re-education and the aspects of the Chinese government by contrasting the Communist ideology to the dynamic character of the narrator, by using symbolism to complement the transformation of the major characters and by including the picaresque story of the Little Seamstress narrated by herself. The notion of re-education and Mao’s ideology are challenged by the development of individuality in the narrator. The narrator learns a lot about the world and builds his own moral system and set of ideals based on the books he reads: “Without him [Jean-Christophe] I would never have understood the splendor of taking free and independent action as an individual.” (Sijie 110). These words indicate that the narrator does not want to act as one of the many proletarians but he would rather have a unique distinguishable personality. The ideal world in the books, in contrast
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