With their stack of foreign literature the two students become intoxicated reading of romance, chivalry and intrigue. The problem is that they start to take risks as a result of their new found intellectual freedom.
In the case of Luo it is physical risks crawling over a mountain precipice every day to take a book to read to the Little Seamstress but in the case of the narrator he gets carried away reading out loud the Dumas tale of the Count of Monte Cristo and is almost denounced by the village headman.
You sense that doom is coming because they are unable to contain their enjoymenty of the books but also crucially cannot stop sharing the contents with people.
Although this is primarily a book about the hardships endured by people as part of the cultural revolution it is also a story about the power of literature – the power to change lives and the way that words can transform the limits of someone’s horizons.
Last chunk tomorrow…