"Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress" by Dai Sijie: In what ways is this novel an argument for the importance of storytelling?

Essay by yukahamada22High School, 10th grade May 2007

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Breathe Literature, Exhale Reality"...an art...recreating literature-taking the printed words in a book and giving them life", Ellin Greene defined storytelling. 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, storytelling takes place when life is tough and living is hopeless. Storytelling allows Luo and the narrator to live like people in the stories. Even the tailor is influenced by the storytelling: He changes the style of clothing in the village so that it escapes the borders of Mao’s permitted clothing. And, the Little Seamstress learns the true meaning of beauty and is able to leave the current life she lives. Throughout this simple but stirring tribute to literature and love, the characters in this novel shows the importance of storytelling by escaping their unbearable realities mentally which could help gain hope, physically by avoiding hard labor, and discovering the true self.

Both Luo and the narrator use storytelling in order to escape from the hard labor of their re-education in their small village “The Phoenix of the Sky”. They had the opportunity of escaping their daily lives in a physical way: Luo and the narrator are challenged to leave the village to watch a film. The two boys go to a town called YongJing, to watch the film, and return to their own town. Upon returning, they are required to put on an “oral cinema show” for the townspeople. Anything is preferable to lugging containers of shit up slippery, perpendicular mountain paths.

“We got two days off for the journey to town and two for the return, and we were supposed to see the show on the evening of our arrival. Back home in the village we were...