Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress Analysis

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Dai Sijie wants the reader to understand the nature of literature is that it is personal, powerful and universal. His work, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, is tale of two boys undergoing re-education in a rural, mountainous part of China. They discover forbidden literature and teach it to a mountain seamstress to educate her. Understandably, with the role of literature being so central to the novel, Dai Sijie presents some ideas about the nature of literature.

One of these ideas is the notion that literature is personal and can affect different people differently. At the last page of the book , we learn how the books of Balzac have affected the Little Seamstress, Leo quotes “ She wants to go to the city, she mentioned Balzac.” and “She said she had learnt one thing from Balzac: that a woman’s beauty is a treasure beyond price”. One can see that the Little Seamstress has become aware of her beauty, increasing her self-worth and confidence. Here, Dai Sijie uses diction very well, namely the word treasure. Treasure implies something that is valuable but also something that needs to be excavated or dug up, harkening back to the pirate booty trope. We clearly see that here beauty is the treasure that has been excavated through hardship and love the Little Seamstress experiences. We can contrast this to the experience of the narrator in reading the same novels. The narrator instead of being more self-confident, learns about romance, love and sex. He says it himself on
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