Storieshave the power to change a human being’s life.In Balzac and the Little ChineseSeamstress by Die Sijie, the narrator experiences many emotions, when he issent to a rural mountain side in China to experience re-education. This newprogram instated under the communist party of China, led by Mao Zedong, aims torestructure the knowledge and understandings of modern culture of people inChina. However, the narrator changes through the stories he reads.
Thenovel, illustrates how books can have such a power influence, on those thatread them. The stories in Balzac and theLittle Chinese Seamstress transform the narrator, from a bored reader andinto a someone who is fascinated and motivated by the books, they allow him toexperience emotions and see worlds he has never seen before.Throughout the novel, Sijie displaysbooks can transform a reader’s imagination. He portraysbooks as an incredible toa human’s imagination. Books have the ability to capture hisaudience sets him apart from the other boys on the mountain. The ability of bookshas to transform an imagination is shown, when the narrator says “By the end of the day I was feeling quite athome in Nemours, imagining myself posted by the smoking hearth of her parlor inthe company of doctors and curates¨ (Sijie p.
60). This allows the narrator to takehis mind, of the hardships of mountain life. These stories allow the narratorto use his imagination, and make it feel like he is the main character in thestory.
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, “Tome it was the ultimate book: once you read it, neither your own life nor theworld you lived in would ever look the same” (Sijie p. 117). The narrator isinfluenced dearly by the words of Jean-Christophe. He takes them to heart.
Thewords 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 toescape the harsh conditions of reeducation. The narrator wishes that he could havemany of the same resources and opportunities as the characters in the novels hereads. He wishes to not be controlled by Mao and the communist government.
Stories give people innovative ideasand allow the reader to experience life lessons they would never experience intheir real life. The narrator is transformed by the land of Balzac’s UrsuleMirou?t even though he has never been to France in his life. When the Sijiesays “The narrator is so fascinated with the story that he does not put thebook down until he has finished the last page” (Sijie 57). This allows thenarrator to experience his life in a totally unique way, then what he isaccustomed to. Through the stories, the narrator experiences thoughts andemotions that he is never felt before. When Luo visits the Little Seamstress totell her about the stories he read, the narrator feels many emotions that hehas never experienced before. He states, “Suddenly I felt a stab of jealousy, abitter wrenching emotion I had never felt before” (Sijie 58).
Most of the time jealousyis not seen as a good emotion but jealousy allows the narrator to have an emotionalawakening and experience emotions he has never felt in his life. Storiesprovide the narrator with a new outlook on life. He is able to feel emotionsthat he has never felt before, and see what worlds he has never seen. Whilethese experiences may not be the most enjoyable, all experiences leave peoplewith a more extensive idea of what life really is.The narrator’s transformation through stories isevident throughout the narrator reeducation. The accumulation of stories leadsto beneficial personal growth on all facets. The narrator and Luo’s emotionallife is drastically altered when they read stories. The stories, the narratorreads, 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 devouringof western books causes him intellectual gain. It provides a greaterunderstanding of how unfamiliar cultures work, and provides him with a perspectiveon their life in the village.
This aspect of growth comes together in the end,and comes to benefit the narrator in ways beyond their contemporaryvision.