Storytelling can be found in every corner of the world. It is used to pass the time, tell of past or current events, and is the way that we communicate with each other. In Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie, storytelling occurs during times of hopelessness when life seems hard and allows the characters to live vicariously through the tales told. The narrator and Luo use storytelling as an escape from reality in times of desperation. The tailor is influenced by the stories to the point where he changes the style of clothing he creates to escape the boundaries of Mao approved clothing. The importance of storytelling to the little seamstress is that she learns the importance of beauty, and is able to leave the current life she lives. Throughout the novel the characters use storytelling to escape the reality of life in either a mental or physical way.
Both Luo and the narrator use storytelling to escape the hardships of re-education in their small town on Phoenix Mountain. An example of them escaping their daily lives in a physical way was when they got to leave town in order to see a movie. The boys would go to the small town of Yong Jing, watch a movie, and put on an ¡§oral cinema show¡¨ for the towns people when they returned.
¡§We got two days off for the journey to town and two for the return, and we were supposed to see the show on the evening of our arrival. Back home in the village we were to relate the film from beginning to end to the headman and everyone else, and to make our story last as long as the screen version.¡¨ (Sijie p. 21)
The narrator and Luo got time off of their hard laboring work to go back to civilization for a little bit. The power of re-telling the movies captivated the townspeople so much that they got to go as often as when a new movie would be released. After attaining Ursule Mirouf¾t, written by Balzac, the narrator did nothing but read for an entire day. 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 parlour in the company of doctors and curates.¡¨ (Sijie p. 60) This allows him to escape the hardships of mountain life on a mental level by imagining that he is taking part in the experiences and situations in the story. After stealing a suitcase full of western novels from their friend four-eyes, the narrator becomes infatuated by book one of 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 takes the words of Jean-Christophe to heart and is filled with the desire to live through this re-education in order to experience love, sex and a free individual action against the world. In a way, the narrator and Luo envied the characters in the western novels that they read daily. They wanted to escape the reality of the conditions they were living under to experience the same...