City Youths


Worried. Exhausted. Hopeless. These are all things we have felt at one time or another in our lives, but it’s nothing compared to what the main character and narrator of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie is going through. A thoughtful, intelligent 17-year-old boy, who had grown up in the city, he is “banished to the mountain known as the Phoenix of the Sky” (Sijie 11) for re-education during China’s Cultural Revolution with his best friend, Luo. As he spent more and more time facing various hardships in the countryside, the effects of all the struggles made him a depressed, pitiful person. “No doubt this exacerbated Luo’s gloom: it felt as if we were doomed to spend our entire lives being reeducated…We were left with the dismal prospect of growing old and bald in the house on stilts, and of dying there too, after which our bodies would be wrapped in the white shrouds typical of the region. There was plenty of cause for dejection and insomnia” (17). All in all, he was a complete downer and had an extremely somber personality, which will hopefully change as he gets more accustomed to his new life,  starts looking on the bright side more often, and in general to just be a happier person. To further show the character of the narrator during the exposition of the book, I drew what I imagine him to look like based on the descriptions in the story.

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Featured Image: here