Balzac and the Little Chinese 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 never release him from the mountain to the life he loved at home. His parents are writers, and he shares their dream that he becomes a writer as well. As such, they provide him with a suitcase of banned western novels. Four-Eyes is generally suspicious of other people and he regularly behaves in ways that are purely self-serving. Luo and the narrator hear him admit that he only remains friends with Luo so he can someday call on the dentist, Luo's father, for dental work. Four-Eyes certainly doesn't believe in the ideals of the Communist government, though his self-serving nature means that he's more than willing to pretend to be revolutionary in order to escape the mountain. The hope that he might be able to escape the mountain brings his worst traits and habits to the forefront, as he tricks Luo and the narrator into collecting folk songs for him, refuses to compensate them as he promised he would, and then alters the folk songs to be more revolutionary.

Four-Eyes Quotes in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

The Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress quotes below are all either spoken by Four-Eyes or refer to Four-Eyes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress published in 2002.
Part 2, Chapter 1 Quotes

All this talk of literature was getting me down. We had been so unlucky. By the time we had finally learnt to read properly, there had been nothing left for us to read. For years the "Western literature" sections of the bookshops were devoted to the complete works of the Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha...

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Luo, Four-Eyes
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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Just as your parents and mine always dreamed that we'd be doctors like them, Four-Eyes's parents probably wanted their son to be a writer. They must have thought it would be good for him to read books, even if he had to do so in secret.

Related Characters: Luo (speaker), The Narrator, Four-Eyes, The Poetess
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

What this gentleman is looking for is precisely that: the authentic, robustly primitive words of ancient ditties.

Related Characters: Luo (speaker), The Narrator, Four-Eyes, The Miller
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 2, Chapter 5 Quotes

The change he had undergone since receiving his mother's letter was truly remarkable. A few days before it would have been unthinkable for him to snap at us like this. I hadn't suspected that a tiny glimmer of hope for the future could transform someone so utterly.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Luo, The Little Seamstress, Four-Eyes, The Miller
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

But I shouldn't let it worry you too much. Right now, ignorance is in fashion, but one day the need for good doctors will be recognized once more. Besides, Chairman Mao is bound to need your father's services again.

Related Characters: The Poetess (speaker), The Narrator, Luo, Four-Eyes, The Dentist
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

"So are you weeping tears of joy?" I said.
"No. All I feel is loathing."
"Me too. Loathing for everyone who kept these books from us."

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Luo (speaker), Four-Eyes
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laboru

He shut the suitcase again and, resting one hand on the lid like a Christian taking a solemn oath, he declared: "With these books I shall transform the Little Seamstress. She'll never be a simple mountain girl again."

Related Characters: Luo (speaker), The Narrator, The Little Seamstress, Four-Eyes
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Four-Eyes Character Timeline in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

The timeline below shows where the character Four-Eyes appears in Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 1
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
The narrator tells the reader that Four-Eyes, a friend from the city, has a suitcase that he keeps hidden. He says that... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Luo feels well enough to go home. He and the narrator pass the village where Four-Eyes is staying, and they see him tilling a flooded paddy field with a water buffalo.... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
The narrator explains that Four-Eyes leaves his house unlocked to demonstrate to the peasants that he trusts them. The narrator... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
When Four-Eyes returns that evening, he evades the narrator's questions about the suitcase. Luo finally says that... (full context)
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
...a large blister that heals when his fevers stop. Luo and the narrator celebrate at Four-Eyes' house and spend the night. The narrator checks under the bed for the suitcase, but... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
The narrator and Luo decide that since Four-Eyes' parents are writers, they probably want Four-Eyes to be a writer too and therefore they... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
...village headman gives everyone the day off. Luo and the narrator head off to see Four-Eyes, whose glasses have finally broken. The narrator explains that Four-Eyes certainly isn't going to let... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
In Four-Eyes' village, the headman hasn't given anyone the day off. The village is busy ferrying rice... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Four-Eyes insists that he doesn't have books, picks up the hod, and starts up the slippery... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Luo and the narrator return Ursule Mirouët to Four-Eyes with the hope that he'll lend them more books, but he refuses, especially once his... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
One Sunday in early summer, Luo and the narrator go to visit Four-Eyes and find him heating a cauldron of water in the yard. When the water boils,... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
The narrator says that a friend of Four-Eyes' mother had promised to find a position for Four-Eyes at a revolutionary journal. However, to... (full context)
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Four-Eyes tells the narrator and Luo that the old man is a drunk and he eats... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
At Four-Eyes' house, Four-Eyes happily pores over the folk songs that Luo and the narrator collected. He... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
The narrator muses that Four-Eyes' glimpse of hope for the future has made him exceptionally arrogant. Four-Eyes tells Luo and... (full context)
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Angry, the narrator lunges at Four-Eyes and accidentally punches him in the jaw. The narrator is blind with rage as they... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
...night wondering who on the mountain gets to go home. They figure it can't be Four-Eyes, with his three in a thousand chances. (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
...narrator, still knitting. The two make small talk and the narrator learns that this is Four-Eyes' mother, the poetess. She explains that he's gotten a job at a literary journal thanks... (full context)
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
The poetess tells the narrator that Four-Eyes is very fond of Luo and doesn't like the narrator much. The narrator is thrilled... (full context)
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
...even if she is Luo's girlfriend. When she finishes laughing, the Little Seamstress suggests stealing Four-Eyes' books. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Over the next week, the Little Seamstress listens to her customers' gossip and learns that Four-Eyes' village is planning a grand event to mark his departure—they even plan to slaughter a... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
...dreams that he's put in charge of stealing the books. In his dream, he approaches Four-Eyes' house and struggles to pick the lock. When it finally gives way, the narrator enters... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
...bellowing in a ravine: as it's illegal to kill an animal used for farm work, Four-Eyes' headman caused the buffalo to "slip" off the edge of a cliff. A few hours... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
...narrator watch as villagers add ingredients to the huge stew pot in the center of Four-Eyes' village. Luo points out five old crones coming to join the festivities as guests of... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
The narrator and Luo walk through the deserted village to Four-Eyes' house. Luo picks the lock, they enter the house, and they shut and lock the... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Luo declares that they need to go. The narrator reminds him that if Four-Eyes says anything, they'll all be at the mercy of the government, but Luo says that... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
...outside. The narrator kills the torch, and they hear the sounds of the poetess and Four-Eyes coming back to the house. Four-Eyes is complaining of an upset stomach after drinking the... (full context)
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
The poetess finds Four-Eyes medicine for indigestion, and they notice that the rope is no longer around the suitcase.... (full context)
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Four-Eyes puts the buffalo tail in the suitcase and suddenly starts yelling that he has diarrhea.... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Four-Eyes leaves the mountain and says nothing about his stolen books, and the village headman leaves... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
...home in Chengdu, the master key that he and the narrator used to get into Four-Eyes' house, and several others. One afternoon, Luo read the Little Seamstress a chapter of Balzac's... (full context)