What You Teach Me I Will Enshrine
Some people desire knowledge, others don’t. Some people love changes, others tradition. Diversity pushes the society forward. In the book Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress (Sijie), however, Luo and the narrator spend their time civilizing the seamstress and trying to assimilate her. Their attempt brings the consequence that they lose themselves, turn the seamstress to a stranger, and lose her eventually.
First of all, Luo and the narrator have changed themselves during the process they civilize the little seamstress. The scenes “Luo crawled along a narrow track with a yawning chasm on either side” (109) and the narrator “having to crouch down and crawl on his hands and knees,” (149) remind me of primitive animals. Their admiration toward the seamstress blinds their rationality; it’s increasingly harder to distinguish between the two city-youths and the vulgar village boys: They used to play violin, read books for a whole night, and talk about life and literature; Now their lives are all about the seamstress, about pleasing her, and about civilizing her. Comparing to how they face re-education, their adherence to themselves is much more fragile when it comes to love. This is one of the sad results of attempting to impose their desire on the seamstress.
Secondly, their attempt unexpectedly changes the seamstress’s naivety, which they used to love. The first time Luo and the narrator met the seamstress, she “wore pale pink canvas shoes” (21), “a long pigtail three or four centimeters wide fell from the nape of her neck down to the small of her back” (21). This image deeply imprinted on Luo and the narrator’s mind is also the start of their courting toward the seamstress. However, after their civilization, she becomes a modern woman. “In combination with her new hairstyle and her immaculate tennis shoes, the nifty jacket with its mannish details made her look unfamiliarly...