Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress


Dai Sijie

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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Characters

The Narrator

The narrator is a 17-year-old boy who has been sent from his hometown to a mountain in rural China to be re-educated in the ways of peasant life. His re-education has been decreed by the… read analysis of The Narrator


Luo is the narrator's best friend. They've been friends their whole lives, as they grew up next door to each other in the city of Chengdu. Luo is sent to the mountain to undergo re-education… read analysis of Luo

The Little Seamstress

The Little Seamstress is the "princess of Phoenix mountain" and the teenage daughter of the tailor. She's beautiful and has a number of suitors on the mountain. Though she's a "simple mountain girl" and… read analysis of The Little Seamstress


Four-Eyes is another young man undergoing re-education in a village on Phoenix of the Sky. He's the only one on the mountain who wears glasses, and he lives in constant fear that the peasants will… read analysis of Four-Eyes

The Village Headman

The headman is the most powerful person in the village where Luo and the narrator undergo their re-education. He has three blood spots in one eye and horrible teeth. He's a generally unpleasant person and… read analysis of The Village Headman
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The Tailor

As the only tailor on Phoenix of the Sky, the tailor is a revered figure. He travels to villages around the mountain to sew and leaves his daughter, the Little Seamstress, behind to work… read analysis of The Tailor
Minor Characters
The Gynecologist
The gynecologist works at the district hospital in Yong Jing, splitting his time between gynecology and surgery. He's initially unwilling to perform an abortion for the Little Seamstress, but finally agrees to do so in exchange for one of the forbidden novels.
The Miller
The miller is famous throughout the region around Phoenix of the Sky for his extensive repertoire of folk songs. He's exceptionally poor, thin, and is always very drunk. His stomach undulates when he sings.
The Poetess
The poetess is Four-Eyes' mother. She's a very proper woman, is extremely condescending to people who aren't from the city, and she babies her 18-year-old son.
The Dentist
The dentist is Luo's father. He's been labeled an enemy of the state because he claims to have worked on Chairman Mao's teeth.
The Preacher
An old man who sweeps the streets of Yong Jing as punishment for being a Christian.