Essay on "The Red Scarf Girl" by Ji Li Jiang

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“The Red Scarf Girl”
“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.”p.276
The book “The Red Scarf Girl” is a memoir written by author Ji Li Jiang recounting what it was like to grow up during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, taking place in China from 1965 to 1968. During this time, a political leader named Mao Zedong convinced the people of China that the “four olds", or the old ways of China, were wrong and that the only way for their country to move forward was to completely revamp their beliefs and ways of life; basically creating a whole new culture for the Chinese. By ways of torture as well as basically brainwashing the people into thinking whatever he said was true, Chairman Mao single handedly shaped China’s culture by removing all anti-communist beliefs.

During the first part of this book, little things that Ji Li Jiang witnesses and says hints that Chairman Mao was forcing change onto the people of China. For example, in chapter 2, Ji Li helps destroy a sign for the Great Prosperity Market, saying that names like this are four olds. Many other words and phrases such as “fortune” and “innocent” were also considered four olds, and were not to be used. But this was just the first step of Chairman Mao’s plan. He also convinced his workers, called “the red guards”, to publicly humiliate people for various anti-Communist acts. These public humiliations got more and more violent as time went on; in the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, people were mainly humiliated for their clothing. On page 30, a man’s clothing is cut apart while he is standing in the middle of a street because the tight pants and pointed shoes he wore were considered four olds; “…tight pants and pointed shoes are what the Western bourgeoisie admire. For us proletarians, they are neither good looking nor comfortable” said the Red Guard...
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