Ji Li Jiang was admired for her work, her courage, her integrity, she was the example of a model student, but all of that changed in 1966 the start of the Cultural Revolution. She goes through a roller-coaster of emotions, and events in the true story of Red Scarf Girl. Some includes having to act like a different person, having to choose between family and social status, and never feeling safe ever.
The teachers praised her; all liked her, but that soon all changed during 1966 when she could not audition for the Liberation Army. Soon enough Ji Li started hiding her face, she started to be isolated from the groups. She was simply a different person: “An Yi said that I seemed to have changed into a different person. Between classes I would avoid my classmates…I would stay in the library until it closed, just to elude the family’s over concerned looks.” An Yi’s comment was only the start of the chaos that would make Ji Li’s go through a roller-coaster of emotions, and bullying in a span of few years, but “It felt almost like a dream from long ago. I remembered another Ji-li, one who was always praised by her teachers and respected by her classmates. A Ji-li who always pushed herself to do better, achieve more.” Her old self seems like a dream in the present because her life at the moment is dreadful since the Cultural Revolution started and social status means more than it did before. Her old self was what she wanted to be again, she wish she were safe. She wished she could be safe from all the torture from the revolution, to be somewhere safe like “home”.
We all feel safe in one particular place, that place is what we would call home. Home is where the heart is, it is safe and loved, but Ji Li does not feel that her home is safe anymore. “Home, I thought. Wasn’t a home a private place? A place where the family could feel secure?” (138) The searchers had just come to Ji Li’s house and prized objects and everything were thrown around the room. This scene gives Ji Li another sign of how cruel the revolution is being to her. She believes that fate is trying to get the best of her. Before the Cultural Revolution she use to cherish her large apartment with a French window, but now it seemed that such luxury was hated. In this scene she figures out how much she should change her black social status, and maybe make her home safe again.
Ji li does not know where her duty lies, she loves her family so much, but she wants to get the black mark stain off her back for the sake of her social status. Ji li Jiang is tired of helping others because that only leads her to be bullied, teased, and having her name written on the da zi bao. Simply she is tired of being an outcast because of her family’s black social status. It is to the point where she thinks about changing her surname: “Would changing my name mean breaking off relations with them?” (301). She has very brave thoughts but she has doubts about whether she could go through with her thoughts and actions. When the officer says that what she is going to do is revolutionary and Chairman Mao would be thoroughly proud of her actions of cutting off ties with her whole family. This makes her realize that she only wanted to break relations with the landlords in her family not her parents, because the landlords that were in her family were mostly the cause of the torment. This comment from the office leads her to question whether her status is more important than her family, which makes her realize that her social status is not as important as her family. Even after all the trouble and realizing that family is more important, she still tried get rid of her black status but in a much more simpler way: “But Ji li, it’s not too late. If you go to the countryside to do your summer labor, the sweat of honest work will wash away the black stain on your back…”(334) As much as she tried to get rid her black social status, it would always follow her. She was given many opportunities to get rid of it, but she failed in doing it. Somehow maybe her failing them were for the best, cause she realizes how important family is.
Ji Li Jiang went through a whirlwind of events and emotions, she had to face her fears, but keep family close as well. During the start she was praised but gradually as the Cultural Revolution went on, she was tormented more by her fellow students, but in the end she learned that she had to stand up for herself. The Cultural Revolution was an eye opener to her, she realizes how important social statuses are, and sometimes home isn’t even safe to hide secrets. Ji Li Jiang was never the same person that she was before, after the Cultural Revolution.