have the power to change a human being’s life.
In Balzac and the Little Chinese
Seamstress by Die Sijie, the narrator experiences many emotions, when he is
sent to a rural mountain side in China to experience re-education. This new
program instated under the communist party of China, led by Mao Zedong, aims to
restructure the knowledge and understandings of modern culture of people in
China. However, the narrator changes through the stories he reads. The
novel, illustrates how books can have such a power influence, on those that
read them. The stories in Balzac and the
Little Chinese Seamstress transform the narrator, from a bored reader and
into a someone who is fascinated and motivated by the books, they allow him to
experience emotions and see worlds he has never seen before.
Throughout the novel, Sijie displays
books can transform a reader’s imagination. He portrays
books as an incredible to
a human’s imagination. Books have the ability to capture his
audience sets him apart from the other boys on the mountain. The ability of books
has to transform an imagination is shown, when the narrator says “By the end of the day I was feeling quite at
home in Nemours, imagining myself posted by the smoking hearth of her parlor in
the company of doctors and curates¨ (Sijie p. 60). This allows the narrator to take
his mind, of the hardships of mountain life. These stories allow the narrator
to use his imagination, and make it feel like he is the main character in the
story. When the narrator steals the suitcase full of western novels from four-eyes,
the narrator becomes engrossed in a book by Jean-Christophe. As he put it, “To
me it was the ultimate book: once you read it, neither your own life nor the
world you lived in would ever look the same” (Sijie p. 117). The narrator is
influenced dearly by the words of Jean-Christophe. He takes them to heart. The
words Jean Christophe motivate the narrator as he desires to escape reeducation,
so he can experience the amenities of life that he has never experienced before.
The narrator envies many of the characters western novels that they read daily.
The narrator wants to live a life like the characters in the novel and desires to
escape the harsh conditions of reeducation. The narrator wishes that he could have
many of the same resources and opportunities as the characters in the novels he
reads. He wishes to not be controlled by Mao and the communist government.
Stories give people innovative ideas
and allow the reader to experience life lessons they would never experience in
their real life. The narrator is transformed by the land of Balzac’s Ursule
Mirou?t even though he has never been to France in his life. When the Sijie
says “The narrator is so fascinated with the story that he does not put the
book down until he has finished the last page” (Sijie 57). This allows the
narrator to experience his life in a totally unique way, then what he is
accustomed to. Through the stories, the narrator experiences thoughts and
emotions that he is never felt before. When Luo visits the Little Seamstress to
tell her about the stories he read, the narrator feels many emotions that he
has never experienced before. He states, “Suddenly I felt a stab of jealousy, a
bitter wrenching emotion I had never felt before” (Sijie 58). Most of the time jealousy
is not seen as a good emotion but jealousy allows the narrator to have an emotional
awakening and experience emotions he has never felt in his life. Stories
provide the narrator with a new outlook on life. He is able to feel emotions
that he has never felt before, and see what worlds he has never seen. While
these experiences may not be the most enjoyable, all experiences leave people
with a more extensive idea of what life really is.
The narrator’s transformation through stories is
evident throughout the narrator reeducation. The accumulation of stories leads
to beneficial personal growth on all facets. The narrator and Luo’s emotional
life is drastically altered when they read stories. The stories, the narrator
reads, develop his personal identities, as he finds himself in the world.
Through the stories, the narrators experience emotions like love and jealousy.
He learns about how others live throughout the world. The narrators devouring
of western books causes him intellectual gain. It provides a greater
understanding of how unfamiliar cultures work, and provides him with a perspective
on their life in the village. This aspect of growth comes together in the end,
and comes to benefit the narrator in ways beyond their contemporary