Ji-li Jiang’s 1998 book Red Scarf Girl illustrates how her attitude toward communism changed during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Jiang uses various examples to show that the revolution had negative effects on China. Also, the Cultural Revolution had significant negative effects on Ji-li. Her experiences as a little girl during the revolution influenced her beliefs about Chairman Mao. These experiences highlighted hardships because of the Red Guards. Ultimately, her views on Chairman Mao changed over time. Ji-li’s character and attitude toward other people also somehow changed. Still, she kept her principles in treating people around her in spite of the ills of the Cultural Revolution.
This article analyzes a quote from the beginning and a quote from the end of Ji-li Jiang’s book Red Scarf Girl, in terms of how they show the changes in Ji-li’s character and attitude toward communism.
A Starter Quote
The following quote from the beginning of the book Red Scarf Girl shows that Ji-li understood the challenge of changing according to the Cultural Revolution. She viewed the Communist Party and Chairman Mao with utmost loyalty and admiration. Ji-li planned on obeying the Chairman and upholding communism. The Cultural Revolution started and she saw changes in people’s way of thinking. These changes affected their lives and Ji-li’s life. Nevertheless, she kept her belief in Communist ideals. Ji-li thought the Cultural Revolution was needed to improve China. She prepared herself to support it and fight the cultural battle:
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. (28-29)
A Fitting Ending Quote from Ji-li Jiang’s Red Scarf Girl
At the end of the novel, Ji-li makes her final statement about her thoughts on Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution:
Our leader had taken advantage of our trust and loyalty to manipulate the whole country. This is the most frightening lesson of the Cultural Revolution: Without a sound legal system, a small group or even a single person can take control of an entire country. (266)
This ending quote shows that Ji-li already changed her attitude toward communism, Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution. At the start of the Cultural Revolution, she tried to maintain her support for communist ideals and Chairman Mao. However, her beliefs waned. Ji-li was shocked by the Red Guards’ activities. Also, her cousin Shan-shan shun his family. Ji-li believed that there was something wrong with the Cultural Revolution. This ending quote sums up the change in her. Red Scarf Girl shows that Ji-li changed her attitude toward communism and lost her belief in Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution.
Ji-li’s attitude toward communism and Chairman Mao changed. Her desire to be a great advocate of communism was changed by doubts and fears. The way she viewed people around her also changed. Ji-li thought that China and its people changed for the worse because of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
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