A theme in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, is the danger of ideology. My literary element project, The Red Noose, is a piece of artwork that aims to analyze this theme in the context of a literary work outside of the United States: in Chinese author Ji-li Jiang’s memoir, Red Scarf Girl. Miller’s play focuses on a religious ideology adhere to the Bible that opposes devilry and witchery, while Jiang’s memoir focuses on the Maoist ideology that opposes counter-revolutionary revisionists. A common cultural experience is explored between the two works: the 1950’s McCarthy era in the US and the 1960’s Chinese Cultural Revolution in China. My artwork, The Red Noose, amalgamates symbols from both works to communicate the theme:
• The red scarf symbolizes a set of ideology (in China, it represents communism).
• The drawing of the face (Jiang Ji-Li’s face on the cover of Red Scarf Girl but disoriented) symbolizes disoriented people in a society that obeys the strict ideology.
• The extended length added to the scarf helps allude the red scarf to a noose (the equipment used to hang the accused during the witch trials), symbolizing the danger of ideology.
Together, these three components communicate that governments acting in accordance with rigid and absolute ideological convictions often fall into corruption and tyranny and are dangerous to societies.
Dear Mr. Schroeder,
In Red Scarf Girl, a historic memoir on the Cultural Revolution, Jiang Ji-Li unravels her experience during those dark days and the importance of family. With the Cultural Revolution well underway in 1966, policies in schools and workplaces had been drastically modified. Jiang Ji-Li at twelve years-old had always been and accustomed to being the leader and exemplar student in her class. However, opportunities began to be stripped away from her and she suddenly finds herself losing confidence when her classmates label her a black whelp. This is because her family belongs to one of the “Five Black Categories”. She learns that her grandpa was a landlord, a bourgeoisie, someone the revolution wants to wipe out. Her confident and proud exterior began to shatter, she whispers her desire, “I wish that I had been born into a different family. I hated grandpa for being a landlord” (Jiang 69). This shows how just her grandpa’s class stance had such a huge impact on her life.
Towards the end of the book however, Jiang Ji-Li changes her point of view on her family. After two years into the revolution, she witnesses not only her misfortune, but innumerable neighbors’, classmates’ and also her own families’. Day by day she learned, so when her grandma was force to sweep the streets every day, Jiang Ji-Li stopped trying to become someone the society wanted, all she wanted to do was to protect and take care of her family: “I no longer worried that she was a landlord’s wife. She was my grandmother” (263). This thought expresses how other characters in her life have changed her ideas. And this character is family. Jiang Ji-Li wraps up the memoir by delivering her opinion: no matter what the world thinks, family comes first.