Is the theme of knowledge explicit or implicit in Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the theme of knowledge is an explicit one in Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress.  The setting of a reeducation camp is a direct and open realm in which the theme of knowledge is explicit. Luo and the narrator are sent to a reeducation camp in order to remove knowledge of the past.  Prior knowledge is seen as bad.  Imposed knowledge that consolidates the power of those in the position of power is seen as good.  The setting of the reeducation camp and the desire to impart a new knowledge system by removing the past element of knowledge makes it an explicit theme.  

Another way in which the theme of knowledge is explicit in the novel concerns the education of the Little Seamstress.  Emboldened by the knowledge she gains from literature, she leaves in search of an identity that is apart from what the authorities wish for their people.  The little seamstress is able to appropriate the knowledge of literature for herself and apart from a centralized notion of authority.  Her actions and the manner in which she embraces knowledge makes it an explicit theme in the narrative.  Knowledge is shown to be an entity that those in the position of power wish to control over others.  It is also one that is shown to be something that individuals can possess themselves and use to transform what is into what can be.  I believe that this is where knowledge can be seen as an explicit theme in the novel because it permeates so much of the characterizations in it.

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