Power of education and literature
Critics have noted that the novel deals with the strength of education and literature. Jeff Zaleski of Publishers Weekly said that the novel "emphasize[s] the power of literature to free the mind." Additionally, a New York Times book review by Brooke Allen addresses the themes, such as the "potency of imaginative literature and why it is hated and feared by those who wish to control others." This reviewer addresses the evil and ultimate failure of "any system that fears knowledge and education... and closes the mind to moral and intellectual truth" as well.
Friendship and lost innocence
The major themes of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress include friendship and lost innocence.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress addresses issues such as how everything appears to have a double-edge.
It has been noted that Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress deals with cultural superiority and balance between varying cultural influences.