Balzac and the Little
Main Characters i.e.
Minor Characters i.e.
Four-Eyes, Old miller,
tailor, Four-Eyes’ mum
• Provides boys with Western literature, brings out
theme of transformative power of literature.
• Draws contrast with Luo/the narrator.
• Brings out theme of acting/taking up false identities.
• Adds humour to engage reader.
• Shows ﬂaws in Cultural Revolution.
• “Four-Eyes, who was eighteen years old at that time, lived in almost perpetual fear.”(p.41) / “A knock
on the door... was enough to frighten him out of his wits.”(p.42)
• “Four-Eyes [received] a blow to the face from the buffalo’s tail.” (p.43) / “Four-Eyes had evidently
aroused his buffalo’s sadistic instinct.”
• “He was very short-sighted” (p.43) / “I’ve got to work, that’s what I’m here for.” (p.49)
• “Four-Eyes gave us a book - a thin, worn volume. The author’s name was Balzac.” (p.51)
• “I tried desperately to persuade hi to sing for me, even offering him money, but he clammed up
• “Suddenly the smile faded from Four-Eyes’ face, making way for a scowl.” (p.71)
• “We (Luo/narrator) were the only two friends Four-Eyes ever made on this mountain.” (p.84)
• “I’ve got the runs” (p.98) / “Four-Eyes left the mountain without daring to denounce us.” (p.101)
• “On top of the neatly stacked books lay the buffalo tail.” (p.98)
The Old Miller
• Brings out ﬂaws in Cultural Revolution.
• Adds humour to engage reader.
• Contrasts with the Village Headman.
• Gives an unbiased, ‘genuine’ view on events.
• Brings out transformative power of literature.
• Provides reader with important contextual knowledge.
• “He knew all the songs of the region, and although illiterate, he had the
reputation of being a champion singer.” (p.60)
• “I’ve never seen anyone as poor in my life.” (p.60) / “There was not a stick of
furniture except for a large bed.” (p.66)
• “Where’s Beijing?” (p.63)
• “Luo took up his chopsticks and tasted his ﬁrst jade dumpling” (p.68)
• “I saw the two of them, both as naked as worms.” (p.126) / “Copulating? The
word is too learned for the likes of me.” (p.127)
• “I would never taste the watery delights enjoyed by them.” (p.127)
• “She (LCS) had become a swallow. Her wings, extended, did not fold until she
touched the surface of the waters and plummeted into the depths.” (p.128)
• I am not easily shocked, and have never denounced anyone” (p.128)
• Conveys the transformative power of literature.
• Brings out ﬂaws in the Cultural Revolution.
• Provides readers with contextual knowledge.
• Conveys theme of oppression and the need for
• “A man of about ﬁfty, sat crossed legged in the centre of the room...” (p.3)
• “Several long, bristly hairs protruding from his left nostril vibrated gently.” (p.
• “A bourgeois toy... a toy from the city... go on, burn it!” (p.4)
• “The headman’s menacing looks softened.” (p.5)
• “The whole audience wept, even the village headman who, for all his
harshness, couldn’t hold back the tears pouring hotly from his left eye,
marked as ever by three spots of blood.” (p.33)
• “I have been here since midnight listening to everything you have been
saying, the whole reactionary story of Count Whatshisname.”(p.119)
• “If you, the son of a great dentist, can cure my tooth, I’ll leave your friend here
• Conveys the theme of oppression and the need for
• Shows ﬂaws in the Cultural Revolution.
• Importance for the characterization/development of
• Gives us evidence of the transformative power of
• Conveys minor theme fairytale/magic.
• “The tailor lived like a king.” (p.21)
• “On the appointed day an escort party would call for him at dawn, with
several strong men to take turns carrying the sewing machine.” (p.21)
• “He was of slight build, thin, wrinkled, but briming with energy.” (p.22)
• “He turned and shouted once more: ‘Wy-o-lin!’” (p.22)
• “Luo and I were amazed to see hot agitated they were, how impatient, how
physical their desire for new clothes was.” (p.113)
• “It took [the narrator] nine whole nights to reach the end.” (p.117)
• “...some of the details [the tailor] picked up from the French story started to
have a discreet inﬂuence on the clothes he was making...” (p.117)
• the “ﬁve pointed anchor...became the most popular decorative feature in
female fashion on Phoenix Mountain.” (p.118)
• She shows us the ﬂaws in the Cultural Revolution,
and that there are always ways around things.
• Gives readers more contextual knowledge, and adds
to our image of Cultural Revolution.
• “Although I seem to be busy knitting this blue
jumper, what I’m really doing is composing poems in
my head.” (p.81)