This is a collection of heart-wrenching narratives based on the devastating Cultural Revolution. Written through the eyes of a high school girl in Beijing, it is relatable, real and captivating. Li Xi Wang is a name that symbolizes the main character’s parent’s hope for her to have a bright future unlike them who are peasants. She will channel her thoughts and unveil the enveloped her discovery piece by piece. Li Xi Wang’s initial personality was shaped by her parents, molding and pressuring her to get into an elite high school. However, her character soon transforms from the quiet caterpillar into a completely new and adventurous butterfly; she will turn her back on her parents’ longings and follow her own desire.
The narratives follow a chronological order of the actual Cultural Revolution and are accompanied by conflicts she faces along the way. She is torn between multiple external and internal conflicts: join the Red Guards or pursue her university dream? Betray her parents or stay obedient? Obey Mao or rebel? Every action she makes also brings out a moral, “don’t go with the flow”, “follow your dreams”, “learn from mistakes”, just to name a few. Prepare to be hooked!
Change and Continuity:
Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 and the arrest of the Gang of Four marked the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. However, the results and consequences still resonates in Chinese politics and society, changing China. The affliction and violence of the revolution changed Chinese citizens’ ideas, cultures, customs, and habits. Citizens are suspicious of the society and of each other because they have once been betrayed by their own family and friends during the revolution. Also, numerous people lost faith in their government altogether.
However, on the positive side, after Deng Xiao Ping regained power in 1977, he opened China to the West. Deng also created the Gao Kao system, similar to the SAT, helping to reestablish the education system. Life seemed to recover and people became more free in their actions, dreams, thought, and speech.
Although the revolution left deep scars and changed China, there are still continuities. Chinese people remains patriotic as always, and even today, still view Mao as a legendary leader and with great respect.