Freudian Explanation For Significance Of The Narrator’s Dreams

Elias Curran-Moore

Freudian Interpretation of the Purpose and Meaning of Narrator’s Dreams in “Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress”.

The reasons we dream can range from practical purposes like storing information for future use or solving problems abstractly, up to activation synthesis theory, where dreams are just random brainwaves. Sigmund’s theory, which is not familiar to many, focuses on the fact that dreams are a reflection of our innermost thoughts and desires. Freud believed dreams had both visible and latent contents, meaning the storyline remembered, as well as hidden meaning. According to this theory, dreams help us understand inner conflict. This theory is well understood by reading “Balzac”, where it is applied easily to the protagonist. As the Narrator is trapped in an isolated mountainous area, with little connection to the outside or outlet for his desires, this Narrator’s dreams are a way to deal with his urges. Dai Sijie’s Balzac and Little Chinese Seamstress allows the Narrator to play out his harsh, unwanted and honest thoughts in dreams.

The Narrator feels torn constantly between loyalty to his best pal, Luo, as well as feelings for a girl that Luo has claimed he loves. It is impossible to have this inner conflict in real life without causing some sort of emotional scene or fallout, which could destroy the Narrator and Luo’s friendship. The Narrator’s unconscious creates fantasy worlds to compensate for his lack of imagination. In one of his dreams, the Narrator was told by his best-friend that “…dreamed Luo has given me the master key. He is thrust into a world of fairytale utopia in his dream. The dream shows him that he has gained the complete trust of Lou through this master-key. It is one of his most cherished desires. In the Dream, The Mission is Successful “As an last resort I again tried the master key and suddenly with a dried click, it gave away.” (92). This shows the desire of the Narrator for these dreams, as they only work after his own involvement. Narrator’s dreams also reveal hidden desires. “The villagers singing and shouting revolutionary tunes” (91) is a perfect example. In his dream, the narrator, unable to express his desire for knowledge, is shown immediately after the celebration. The narrator tries to show concern for the events taking place in the village. However, the Narrator wants to explore other places in the world. In this case, he is interested in western ideas. Dreams allow him to express his true desires and id in a way that is not possible in the world.

The narrators inner thoughts are harsher and more self-centered in another dream. It is not surprising that his first thought upon waking was one of disappointment, as he noted “it took a long time for him to figure out what he had done.” (116). This remark is full of disappointment. It suggests the narrator has been lost in his dreams. In his dream narrator, is following behind a young, girl. The girl soon transforms herself “into Little Seamstress. She is vivacious and fun”(116). In his dreams, he has finally met the Little Sewerstress. It is a direct connection between his real-life and fantasy life. The Narrator reveals that he felt his ears turn red and blushed, just like a teenager on his first romantic assignment. The young Luo, who was following her behind on all-fours, followed the transformed seamstress after she had changed. In his dreams, the narrator is not happy with the idea that the Seamstress will grow up and leave behind her clinging lover Luo when she no longer requires him. After he is taken to a steep slope, the narrator dreams that “the little seamstress has fallen.” (117). The narrator’s subconscious is revealed in the description of the horrific injuries he describes from her fall to her death. The Narrator is forced to dream about events he cannot contemplate.

In the very same dream, he is always worried about Luo. This is a unique connection that exists between reality and the dream. He wondered “what she might be doing on the hill with Luo.” (116). Narrator cannot shake his concern about the competition between the three best friends. The unidentified girl at the start of the dream serves as a reminder that perhaps it is not the Seamstress, but rather the masculinity or adrenalin that he feels competing with Luo. The dream shows readers the harsh reality of his life, but it is also a reality that he himself desires. The narrator, in order to get revenge or some sort of satisfaction for himself, notes that the Seamstress was “while Luo her young lover followed behind on all 4s.” (117). The narrator subconsciously twisted his dream to dehumanize his childhood buddy, as well as his only link to his previous life. The dream here is a manifestation of what the Narrator feels. In this case, it’s his desire to dominate and defeat Luo. The Narrator’s instinctive desires are contained by the dream.

The Narrator can express his unwelcome, repressed emotions, fantasies, desires or thoughts in dreams, where he will be unable to escape them. In his dreams he can work through all of this, as he is unable to escape it and no real-world consequences are involved. Psychoanalysis can reveal the inner workings of the Narrator, but our dreams are often less telling.


  • jamielane

    Jamie Lane is a 31-year-old blogger and traveler who loves to share his educational experiences with others. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has been traveling the world ever since. Jamie is always looking for new and interesting ways to learn, and he loves to share her findings with others.

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