What are some social issues present in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress? How do these connect to the real world and what's going on right now? How are they addressed in the context of the...

What are some social issues present in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress? How do these connect to the real world and what's going on right now? How are they addressed in the context of the story?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the social issues in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is the attempt by governments to force their people to believe certain ideologies by banning any work that opposes this ideology. In the book, Luo and the narrator live in a remote town near a mountain called Phoenix of the Sky to which they are banished during the Cultural Revolution in China. All Western music, such as Mozart, has been banned. Western literature has also been banned. The irony is that by banning the works, the government only makes them more powerful. For example, when the Little Seamstress hears Balzac (a French writer), she is taken by the power of his words. As Luo says, "This fellow Balzac is a wizard . . . He touched the head of this mountain girl with an invisible finger, and she was transformed, carried away in a dream" (page 65). Works that are not officially allowed become more magical and more meaningful to people, who know on some level that the government has banned them because they are powerful.

Many countries today still practice censorship, including China, North Korea, and others. In addition, some school districts in the United States ban books and do not allow their students to read certain titles, often for political or cultural reasons. In many countries that practice censorship, people find a way to read banned texts, and these texts and their ideas still circulate. Therefore what the author describes happening during the Cultural Revolution is still present today.