Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress Summary

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In the stories ‘Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress’ by Dai Sijie and ‘The Boat’ by Alistair MacLeod, characters that are trapped in a close minded environment use their knowledge of books to escape and fulfil their desires.
In both of these stories, characters are trapped in a close minded environment with some sort of higher power restricting their knowledge of the outside world. In ‘The Boat’ the mother is a strong presence in everyone in the family’s life. “My mother ran her house as her brothers ran their boats.” (MacLeod,2000,pg.3) “She despised disorder in rooms and in houses and in hours and in lives, and she had not read a book since high school. There she had read Ivanhoe and considered it a colossal waste of time.” (MacLeod,2000,pg.5)
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“Shortly after my sisters began to read the books, they grew restless and lost interest in darning socks and baking bread, and all of them eventually went to work as summer waitresses in the Sea Food Restaurant.” (MacLeod,2000,pg.5) The knowledge of the outside world leads the girls to a better life “None married a fisherman.” (MacLeod,2000,pg.8) The books helped the daughters break the chain that they were stuck in, the chain ‘of the sea’. “And then there came into my heart a very great love for my father and I thought it was very much braver to spend a life doing what you really do not want rather than selfishly following forever your own dreams and inclinations.”. This passage is where the son realizes that his father, similar to the girls was not ‘of the sea’, and wanted to escape too. “I would remain with him as long as he lived and we would fish the sea together. And he made no protest but only smiled through the cigarette smoke that wreathed his bed and replied, "I hope you will remember what you've said." (MacLeod,2000,pg.11) This quote, near the end of the story is where it is clear that the father has made his decision to escape. Because he had promised his father to stay with him as long as he lived, if the father had never died, the son would have probably never become a professor. So the books influenced the father to escape and this helped the son escape as well. The Little Chinese Seamstress in ‘Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress’ is illiterate and has no real ambitions in life,until she meets Luo and the narrator who change her life with the writings of Balzac. At the start of the story, the narrator asks Luo if he is in love with the Little Chinese seamstress and he replies that she is “not civilised, at least not enough for me!” (Sijie,pg.27)“With these books I shall transform

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