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Isolation Creates Desire

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Robert Lam ENG 1D7 Wednesday, January 16, 2007 Ms. Bumbaca Isolation Creates Desire "Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire." (Arab Proverb). Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress explores the way isolation impacts two young men's desires when Mao's Cultural Revolution forces them to relocate from the city to a backwoods mountain village. Sijie uses the first person protagonist point of view and the first person witness point of view to describe how Luo and the narrator must adapt to their harsh new environment by changing their meanings, values, and beliefs. In the heart of their harsh new reality, Luo and the narrator discover the importance of love, friendship, and beauty when they meet the Little Chinese Seamstress. The two characters learn that isolation forces people to adapt to their new environment and creates the desire necessary to reflect their changing true selves. In order to survive, Luo and the narrator must adapt to their new environment by changing their meanings, values, and beliefs to reflect the importance of recognizing opportunity, focusing on things that are important to them and acting upon their focus. ...read more.


The narrator learns to control his desire when he discovers that friendship is more important than temporary pleasure. Luo's animal instincts, on the other hand, adapt to Phoenix Mountain's harsh backwoods environment and enable him to survive. Although the Village headman's harsh tasks wear on the two young men's bodies, the tasks only strengthen their spirits. Taking advantage of the village headman's ignorance, Luo gets the two boys an extra hour of sleep by "...turning the clock back, (so) we could enjoy our extra lie in" (Sijie 15). Luo's audacity, like a forest fire burning out of control on a hot, dry summer day, fuels his courage to act on his desires. Luo and the narrator experience the desire to put "themselves in a position where luck might strike..." (Farb 145). The two friends understand that their survival depends on their alliance with the village headman, the superior of Phoenix Mountain. Because of their alliance, the village headman frees them from their harsh labour and allows them to leave the village in order to see a new film every month. Going to see these films not only gives the two young men a break; it also lets them go to visit the Little Seamstress. ...read more.


In fact, the novel starts off as a reflection on the isolating impact the Cultural Revolution makes on their lives. The two city youths, children of successful professionals, must live through watching their parents lose everything as they become "'...enemies of the people...'" ( Sijie 8) The narrator's reflection traces their development through their reeducation and their interaction with the Little Seamstress. Mao's reeducation, however, misses its mark. Luo and the narrator, although transformed by their relocation and reeducation don't become ignorant peasant farmers. Instead, they learn compassion's importance to understanding an individual's beliefs, intended meaning and life values. Learning about compassion's importance to understanding transforms Luo and the narrator physically, mentally, and spiritually by freeing them from the jail of isolation forced upon them by Mao's Cultural Revolution. The first person protagonist point of view and the first person witness point of view allows Sijie to describe the way reeducation fails to transform Luo and the narrator into peasant workers in their placement at Phoenix in the Sky Mountain, but instead, strengthens their ability to act upon love, friendship, and beauty. Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress measures how desire strengthens these two young men who learn the importance of compassion in acting on their desires. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lam 2 1 ...read more.

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