Assignment On Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress

1490 words - 6 pages

There are many things that most people take for granted. Things people do regularly, daily and even expect to do in the future. These things include eating meals regularly, having a choice in schooling, reading, choice of job and a future, and many more things. But what if these were taken away and someone told you want to eat, where and when to work, what you can read, and dictated your future. Many of these things happened in some degree or another during the Chinese Culture Revolution under Mao Zedong that began near the end of the 1960’s. This paper examines the novel Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie and a book by Michael Schoenhals titled China’s Culture Revolution, 1966-1969. It compares the way the Chinese Cultural Revolution is presented in both books by looking at the way that people were re-educated and moved to away, what people were able to learn, and the environment that people lived in during this period of time in China.
In the beginning of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, the narrator of the book and his friend, Luo, are being moved from their past city life to living in a small village in the mountains the villagers called ‘the Phoenix in the Sky’. They were being re-educated, moved to the village and made to work as one of villagers and be “re-educated” as a poor peasant while working the land. The narrator says in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress that during China’s Revolution, universities were closed and that all the young intellectuals, or youths who had graduated from high school, were sent to the countryside to be “re-educated by the poor peasants.” In China’s Culture Revolution it says that “8 million or more students ‘went to the countryside’ before they entered college or university…they were raised without supervision of parents and lived hand to mouth on the fringes of society.” In the novel, Luo and the narrator were the only two in their village who had been sent away to work and be being re-educated away from their parents, but they were among a great number of youths throughout china, such as their friend four-eyes in the neighboring village.
The novel goes into some detail on what the villagers had to do on a daily basis and how they lived. There was no electricity in the village and everyone worked daily in one way or another. The village headman was in charge of delegating where people worked and what they did. Most people worked in the rice fields or plowed. Lou and the narrator had to do this most of the time as well, and at the end of the day they had to carry human and animal excrement down the mountain in buckets. These things, among many more, are included in the hard manual labor that everyone was required to do. China’s Culture Revolution it discusses those after the revolution that could be observed to have taken enormous physical and psychological tolls, which some never recovered, from the hard continuous manual labor. This is also seen in...

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