Dear Mr. Schroeder
The novel, Red Scarf Girl is a memoir of the cultural revolution written by Ji-Li Jiang. In this novel, Ji-Li was the protagonist and narrator who was only twelve years old when the Chinese Cultural Revolution began. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was ignited when Chairman Mao proclaimed the removal of the “four olds”. Which includes old habits, old culture, old ideas and old customs. Ji-Li and her family were unfairly criticized by the revolution for absurd reasons. Throughout the novel, she was badly treated by the government officials and peers and was eventually removed from the city and placed on a farm where the conditions were severe. After the novel, she moved to America and wrote her auto-biography—— Red Scarf Girl.
Ji-Li’s commitment to her family is undeniable, throughout the novel, she had been facing the difficult situation of choosing between her family and her future. “‘ You saw your father. He is being remolded through labor. We have evidence that he has committed a serious counterrevolutionary crime.’ He paused and fixed me with his eyes. ‘But he is very stubborn and refuses to confess. And your mother. Humph. She’s another despicable thing!’ ‘She’s not a thing, she’s a human being,’ I wanted to scream, but I knew that I should not provoke him.’”(189, Jiang) Ji-Li had learnt to hide her truthful feelings under a mask, she knew that expressing her feelings would not help her nor her family. Ji-Li instead, had carefully concealed her feelings in order to prevent her family from getting into trouble. In the final parts of the book, Ji-Li had started to waver. Her grandfather was a landlord, whenever somebody had mentioned his name, she thought of him as a shameful elder in her family. At first, she thought Chairman Mao as a god, she had believed in whatever he said or did. The citizens in China were isolated from the outside world, Chairman Mao had used this as a strategy to “brainwash” them in order to keep himself in power. Because of that, she had started to doubt her family, mistrust her friends. “Many friends have asked me why, after all I went through, I did not hate Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution in those years. The answer is simple:We were all brainwashed. To us Chairman Mao was God. He controlled everything we read, everything we heard, and everything we learned in school. We believed everything we read.”(265) This quote was
from Jiang Ji-Li after the revolution, she had completely realized what was happening during the her childhood. The same thing applies to the others living during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Ji-Li’s commitment to her family had helped the readers reveal what Ji-Li was truly going through at that time, her responsibility and love towards her family had let us understand what the cultural revolution had forced young teens go through at that time. Her determination to hold her family together had helped her survive.