By: Ji-Li Jiang
Lindsey Sikand Pd.4 5/25/12
The Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-Li Jiang, tells a true story about the Cultural Revolution, launched in 1966, seen from the eyes of a twelve year old. The story begins in Shanghai, China, where Ji-Li Jiang is introduced as a girl who had everything a twelve year old could want--amazing parents, tons of friends, the brains to conquer all, and high hopes for her future in Communist China. However, when she is selected to audition for the Central Liberation Army Dancer, her parents prevent her from auditioning because of the political background investigations that her family will not be able to pass due to their poor class status. Broken hearted and dreams shattered, Ji-Li follows her parents orders ,and is beginning to doubt whether her goals are achievable now. One weekend, Ji-Li Jiang and her two siblings went to a bookstore, only to see a commotion of people campaigning to “Destroy the Four Olds”. Chairman Mao had started the Cultural Revolution in 1966. Ever since then, she would hear on the radio about the needs to end the evil, and destructive influences of the “Four Olds”; old ideas, cultures, customs, and habit. Chairman Mao believed that we would never succeed at building a new, strong, and socialist country until the “Four Olds” are destroyed and the “Four News” are established. Excited and full of spirit after watching the campaign, she rushes home only to be reprimanded by her parents for what she is doing. On Monday afternoon, before school was dismissed, Ji-Li met up with some of her friends and soon small talk becomes name calling. This was the first time she experienced discrimination because of her “Four Old” actions and will face much more throughout the book. Red Guards are finally emerging as powerful and respectable people, and are looked at as heroes to everyone, including the Jiang family. To promote communism, her school starts and organization called The Red Successors. This organization acts as a starting point for young Red Guards. Ji-Li was originally nominated to be a red successor, but a boy in her class, whose mother was on the neighborhood committee, said that the nominations should be done by class statues instead of grade. He told the class that her grandfather was a landlord and the family is a bunch of rightists. She was no longer nominated to be a red successor. After class, she was cornered by the new successors and was told for her to change her ways or else and yet again experienced discrimination because of her past Ji-Li Jiang’s days in primary school are beginning to dwindle, and will soon be in junior high school. Disappointed and sad that she won’t get into good schools since they do not have a respectable class status, she loses all hope in everything. Luckily, her teacher found a respectable school in Shanghai, but is only to be disappointed again when they find out that her teacher’s recommendations have been dismissed and she is put into a school according to their neighborhood. The summer before she goes to high school, her family no longer sees the Red Guard as heroes and they are under the constant terror of being arrested. She has seen them searching houses of suspected rightists and collecting all their valuables. Slowly and steadily her neighborhood becomes a cold and lonely place filled with families scared and frightened of the next attack of the Red Guards. Her family begins to prepare for the worst and start burning valuables that would seem to be “Four Olds”. However, she still sees the Red Guards as heroes and believes that they have a right to look through a person’s property.
The Red Guards are now unstoppable and is acting on their own in the name of Mao. Ji-Li and her neighbors witnessed them forcing a man kneel on the dirty sidewalk...