Jan Wong’s Life in Gifs


[Spoiler Alert]

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Think of a perfect idea that you have believed in all your life, then doing everything to make it happen, only to realize that everything you trusted is actually a lie. In the rising action/climax of Red China Blues by Jan Wong, this is actually what happens to her and I used this GIF story to demonstrate her feelings and thinking during this period.

Wong, although Chinese, grew up in Canada her whole life. While living there, she read and heard only good things about the Cultural Revolution happening in China, “As a misguided Maoist, I saw nothing wrong with propaganda” (Wong 16). This thinking led her to apply for a visa, then travel all the way from Canada to Beijing, China in order to experience the “wonderful” life of a Maoist. 

The Communist Party was very pleased with a foreigner coming to China, so made special allowances for her, “…an officer told me I would begin studying at Beijing University in early August” (41). Since she was special, she was treated better as well, “…like revolutionary royalty…the Chinese students who moved in with us were our ladies-in-waiting”(47). This only encouraged and proved Wong’s foolish thoughts of China being a paradise, as well as turning her more and more like their little guinea pig.

However, over the course of her stay at Beijing University, she started a relationship with a Swedish guy that the Communist Party did not approve of. The Party thus told her she was expelled and had to return to Canada,”‘Your studies at Beijing University are over… You have to exit the border by February 29′”(82), though she didn’t know this was the reason for her expulsion at the time. This led her to be very confused. Wong came to realize that the Communists were watching every corner of your life. They were trying to restrict your friends, and control who you had to like. When the authorities told Wong that she was no longer permitted to see him, she got expelled, which made her finally realize how her life here was not controlled by her at all;  her “near-expulsion was a turning point for [her]” (89). By the time this whole experience was over,  “[She] had tasted the Chinese pear. [She] had learned first-hand about the real China” (89) and she had become a whole other person.

GIFS: here

Featured Image: here