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The Impact of Education and Literature in "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress".

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Introduction

The Impact of Education and Literature in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress was published in 2000 by Dai Sijie a Chinese-French author and filmmaker. The novel was based on the author?s experiences during the Cultural Revolution when he was sent to a re-education camp in rural Sichuan from 1971 to 1974. The story is about two male teenagers in their late adolescence being sent to a small farming village to be re-educated during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. At the same time, the story highlights the absurdity and irony of ?re-education? during the Cultural Revolution. Throughout the story, characters are aware of the power of education and literature and use it as means to influence others: Mao denied the population education and literature to restore his influence in China, Luo and the narrator intellectually liberated themselves through Four-eye?s literature novels, and they transformed the Little Seamstresses through exposing her to foreign literature. ...read more.

Middle

In the story, the narrator and Luo were sent to rural China to be ?re-educated? and both their parents who specialized in medicine were declared enemies of the state and publicly humiliated by the Communist state. By denying the population access to education and foreign literature and creating widespread illiteracy, Mao had re-established his political control in China. Despite being trapped in the re-education camp, the narrator and Luo found spiritual and intellectual liberation from foreign literature novels which were locked in Four-eye?s suitcase. The narrator is highly enlightened by Balzac?s novel. He discovers ?awakening desire, passion, impulsive action, love, all the subjects that had, until then, been hidden? (57). Four-eye?s locked suitcase of literature novel is a symbolic of the authorities? obligation to limit education in order to maintain their control over the population. The narrator also reveals how the ideas from literature novels influenced his philosophy. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Seamstress?s psychological change becomes most apparent with her eventual decision to ?change her life and try her chances in the city? (180). Yet, this transformation comes at a heavy cost for the boys. For Luo, it was the end of a romantic relationship; for the narrator, it was the loss of an intimate friendship and a great sense of betrayal. Although the boys have transformed the Little Seamstress into a more sophisticated and free thinking individual, it was ultimately their patronizing and classist attitude towards her that lead to her abandonment of them and pursue a new life in the city. To conclude, characters influenced one another in different ways through the power of education and literature. While Mao created mass illiteracy in China through the banning of education and foreign literature, Luo, the narrator and the Little Seamstress enriched each other's lives through sharing a collection of forbidden literature novels. ...read more.

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