Themes in "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamtress" by Dai Sijie

Essay by kevinxiaowisHigh School, 10th grade December 2006

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Our three protagonists in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress are sent to re-education in a remote mountain; there they are greeted by monotony. The discovery of a hidden treasure chest of forbidden foreign books enriches their lives with the value of intellect, literature, liberty, love, friendship and desires. It is an epic tale of the coming of age of two boys and a girl through individual growth.

Coming of age

The coming of age is a central theme throughout Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress as the three teenager's loyalty, love, liberty, dreams and aspirations are put to the test. Although the coming of age plays a prominent role in the novel, other themes such as passions and liberty are inextricably interwoven and contribute to the coming of age of our three protagonists. One of the most blatant examples of an inner conflict is that of the narrators. His lust for his best friend's girlfriend ultimately is tested for his loyalty and the value the narrator places on friendship.

The intensity of this experience for the Narrator and Luo is poignant and enchanting as it highlights a first-time "sex and love" [p.93.] For many people liberty is an ideal and privilege many of us have forgotten to appreciate and be thankful for. In the position of the little Chinese seamstress, through reading western literature her imagination is stimulated. This has generated "awakening desires" [p.57] and dreams, this is evident because in the end of the book she 'vanished without of trace' [p.167] to pursue her ever longing thirst for freedom and true feminism by leaving to the city. The author captures three youthful soul's discovery of the purity of love through individual maturity, meanwhile intensified with themes of jealousy, survival and adventurousness.

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