Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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 buffalo. The narrator and Luo aren't invited, which they find convenient, since it provides a perfect opportunity to steal the suitcase. Luo and the narrator fashion a master key from a nail, planning to pick Four-Eyes' padlock.
Four-Eyes continues his betrayal of his friends by not inviting them to the event. For the villagers, the event is surely a celebration of their success in re-educating Four-Eyes, which is ironic given that all it seems he's learned on the mountain is how to look out for himself and keep secrets.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Several days before the theft, the narrator 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 the house to find the poetess calmly knitting inside, smiling. The narrator makes some excuse to the poetess and leaves the house, locking it behind him.
The unsuccessful theft in the dream indicates that the narrator has a guilty conscience; stealing and betrayal aren't things that come easily to him. Notice too that he's alone and unsuccessful. This reinforces his role as sidekick.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
The day before the celebration, the narrator and Luo hear a buffalo 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 later, Luo and the narrator go to see the buffalo. It's finally dead, and Four-Eyes and his village headman are crouched next to it, collecting the blood in a bamboo vessel. Someone explains to Luo and the narrator that they'll wait for the blood to congeal so they can drink it as a remedy against cowardice. The narrator and Luo watch the headman slice the blood pudding in half. Four-Eyes slurps his half of the blood.
Even those with power under the Communist system (like Four-Eyes' headman) must lie and omit information or risk punishment. The rule about farm animals' deaths shows that the government values the "peasants" being able to perform their duties as farmers. What the narrator has learned about Four-Eyes makes it seem as though he's probably not fully on board with the blood-drinking ritual; Four-Eyes is probably doing it to earn his headman's favor.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Luo and the 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 honor. The poetess pays the crones, and one of them reads Four-Eyes' palm. It seems to be a grim prediction, as the villagers fall silent and then talk uneasily. The crones begin a dance around the fire and act out exorcising demons. Luo and the narrator leave their vantage point as the dance reaches its climax.
The narrator and Luo watch a picture-perfect example of a collectivist society as the villagers work together to make the stew. The crones harness a more rural version of storytelling when they read Four-Eyes' palm; the power of their form of storytelling is evidenced by the villagers' uneasy reactions.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
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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 door behind them. Luo lights his torch and they're stunned to see that the suitcase is perched right on top of Four-Eyes' assembled luggage. They remove the rope around the suitcase and lift the lid to find a pile of books by French, Russian, and some English authors. The narrator touches the books and feels as though he's touching human lives.
The literature is already so powerful—even at this point when the narrator and Luo haven't read any of it yet—that the books become almost human. These books are a physical representation of the boys' coming of age, since the books will be what they use to learn about themselves and the world around them.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Luo says the situation reminds him of a film scene in which characters find a suitcase full of money. The narrator asks if Luo is "weeping tears of joy," but Luo says he only feels loathing. The narrator agrees and says that he loathes everyone who wanted to ban the books. He's scared to hear himself say that, as saying such a thing could lead to years in prison.
The narrator and Luo are angry with the government for forbidding art and literature like this, as well as with Four-Eyes for refusing to share. The narrator recognizes the difficulty of this thought, as he's not supposed to feel that way about Mao or those in charge of his re-education.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution 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 the poetess won't allow Four-Eyes to squander his chance to get off the mountain. Luo shuts the suitcase and says that he'll use the books to transform the Little Seamstress.
Luo again asserts his superiority over the Little Seamstress, even though he himself hasn't read any of these novels either. Notice that he sees that the books will be transformative for the Little Seamstress; he doesn't acknowledge that they might be transformative for him, as well.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Storytelling, Censorship, and Power Theme Icon
Luo carries the suitcase and they move into the other room, where they find the window they'd planned to escape through secured with a nail. As they head back into the main room, Luo hears someone 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 buffalo blood. As the chain on the door rattles, Luo and the narrator dive under the beds. The narrator finds himself next to a full chamber pot.
The indigestion Four-Eyes experiences makes the traditional peasant life seem far less idyllic and romantic. This mirrors his thoughts about the peasant songs: he believes at first that these things will be revolutionary and fulfilling, but upon actually experiencing them, he finds that they're either unpleasant or in direct opposition to his goals.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon
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. They uneasily discuss whether someone could've broken in, and the poetess tells Four-Eyes that the narrator and Luo are sly. Four-Eyes tells his mother that he stayed friends with them so that Luo's father could someday attend to her teeth.
Four-Eyes confirms that his friendship with Luo and the narrator was only one of convenience; he only gave them what loyalty he did so that he could use their relationship for his own gain later. Essentially, he preyed on Luo and the narrator's loyalty, as they've demonstrated throughout the novel that they believe in returning favors.
Themes
Friendship and Loyalty Theme Icon
Four-Eyes puts the buffalo tail in the suitcase and suddenly starts yelling that he has diarrhea. He runs outside to relieve himself in the cornfield, and the poetess runs after him with toilet paper. Once Four-Eyes and the poetess are gone, Luo and the narrator grab the suitcase and run from the house. They stop to rest after an hour and open the suitcase. The buffalo tail appears to be from the buffalo that broke Four-Eyes' glasses.
The buffalo tail is a trophy for Four-Eyes. This suggests that his time on the mountain was little more than an unpleasant interlude in his life, and it also shows how he views the culture of the mountain people. Four-Eyes' re-education was obviously unsuccessful, as he still seems to view the villagers as "others" to be fetishized, rather than thinking of them as his comrades.
Themes
Education, Re-Education, and the Cultural Revolution Theme Icon