Life in tough times.
Hitler said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” Hitler said this because he knew that the future of Germany was lying in its children’s hands. The youth of Germany was an important target for the Nazis and also for the communist party of China. The Cultural Revolution was the greatest educational incident recorded in the last hundred years, it made a huge impact on almost all people in China including young students .Cultural revolution in China and Hitler’s dictatorship in Germany both affected the lives of two teenage boys –the narrator from Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress and Peter from the movie Swing kids. The narrator and Peter grew up in almost the same time in different parts of the world yet they have some similarities and differences between them.
Peter and the narrator are both teenagers and thus are very inquisitive about the world around them. Both of them are forced into something they don’t want to be a part of. Peter is practically the head of their group, and the choices he makes determines what everyone else thinks and does. For instance, Peter is sent into the HJ’s because of his bad behavior and not because he wants to join. Peter is a strong character because he thinks things through and makes his own decision. In addition, Peter does not discriminate against Arvid even though his fellow HJ’s and friends did. He is a good friend and would rather be loyal to his friends rather than to his fellow HJ’s. The narrator from the novel Balzac also remains true to his friends no matter what. His character begins with very low self confidence but, as the novel progresses the narrator’s storytelling skills rival and then outshine those of his friend Luo, through reading the forbidden books. Where as Peter through out the entire movie is portrayed with high self confidence.
Peter and the narrator both love art. Peter uses swing music and dance to escape and the narrator escapes through reading books and playing the violin. Both Peter and the narrator have lost their father to the government. They both come from a close knit family but later on had to make their own decisions and learn about life. Something traumatic in their lives has changed their views, fate and helps them grow into a responsible person.
Peter is sent to the work camp whereas the narrator is sent for re-education. This re-education process and joining HJ’s was a tough time for both of them, because they were forced to accept something that they knew was impairing to both the people of the nation and the nation itself. Both Peter and the narrator had multiple feelings about their situations, they both had to make tough decisions and chose between friendship, family and freedom as the Nazi movement and the Cultural Revolution swept through.
Peter and the narrator are both teenagers who grew up in hash conditions where they had to make decisions for themselves; they had to follow the orders of the government in whom neither of them believed and the same government who labeled their father as an enemy to the nation. Growing up in such dire times, both the characters had some similarities and differences between them.
“Adolf Hitler Quotes.” Binary quotes. 2001. 9 Dec. 2008 <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/adolf_hitler.html>.
Sijie, Dai. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.
Trans.Ina Rilke. New York: anchor books, 2002.
Swing Kids. Dir. Thomas Carter, pref. Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, Frank Whaley. 1993. DVD. Buena Vista Home entertainment, 2002.