The Red Scarf Girl Questions & Answers
1. How does Ji-li’s opinion about the Communist Party and its beloved leader, Mao Ze-dong, change over the course of her story? Name some of the most crucial events in the autobiography and explain how they change Ji-li's feelings about the party. Ji-li never stopped believing in Mao because everyone was brainwashed into thinking he was good, like she says on the first page; “Heaven and earth are great, but greater still is the kindness of the Communist Party; father and mother are dear, but dearer still Chairman Mao”(Pg. 1). He was thought of as a god and never blamed for the bad that was happening in the country. Though Ji-li always believed in Mao, her thoughts on the party changed throughout the novel because she blamed the people in the communist system rather than the leader. At the beginning of the story, she thought that the country was in a great state with communism and how everyone was treated, but she later realized that it was wrong when her family was cast into the Black Category and shunned. Many things happened to Ji-Li during the revolution that she didn’t understand like when they closed her favorite place to read books or when her classmates accused her of having a relationship with her teacher. There were worse things that made her despise the party. First, she didn’t get to take the exam to go to the best middle school because they changed the way of education and since everyone was to be treated the same there was no such thing as a good middle school or a bad middle school. When they changed the system, it infuriated Ji-li because one thing she cared about was her education since it would help her be successful. Next, Ji-li’s parents had to fire their housekeeper, Song Po-po, because having a maid was to be living in luxury and it would cast them into the black category. To avoid being shunned, they fired Song Po-po which made Ji-li angry because she loved her like family. The worst example was when the communists ransacked her home and took everything. This was one of the last things that happens to Ji-li and it makes her furious because she knew that the people that raided the house were sent by the party. 2. “Destroying the Four Olds was a new battle, and an important one: It would keep China from losing her Communist ideals. Though we were not facing real guns or real tanks, this battle would be even harder, because our enemies, the rotten ideas and customs we were so used to, were inside ourselves” (pages 28–29). Ji-li reverently invokes this Communist doctrine toward the beginning of her story. How does this notion of ridding the country of the Four Olds become damaging? Who decides what is Four Olds? Discuss other instances in which leaders have tried to erase culture and history. Ridding the country of the Four Olds becomes damaging because when you destroy everything you destroy the good things too. People are no longer individuals, and they all become brainwashed and they all go toward the one ideology, leading to the loss of the individual’s identity and everyone becomes a clone. The way they made them clones was that they all had the same haircuts, clothes, and everyone was educated the same no matter what your abilities were. Also, the respect of teachers was lost and they even allowed the students to judge and criticize their teachers. The people who decided what were the Four Olds was anyone who was loyal to the communist party because they could interpret the written law. For example, high school students destroyed a man’s clothes when they decided his clothes were too old or western looking. In history, there have been many leaders who did the same and changed the old ways. For example, the settlers of the U.S. practically wiped out the natives and their ways of living and the conquistadores completely destroyed the natives of Latin America. Finally, a more recent example is how the U.S. government will cover up things they don’t...
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