During chapters 3-5, the Great Proletarian Revolution picks up more momentum and the movement soon reaches Jiang Ji-Li's school. These chapters were focused on Ji-Li's school life and how Mao Ze-Dong's revolution upset the educational system in the People's Republic of China. Jiang Ji-Li's school also created a group called the Red Successors, due to protests by certain groups of students about the age requirements for becoming a member of the Red Guards (Red Successors were intended to succeed Red Guards as a "second army"). On page 38, schools were closed indefinitely by the government for children to write multiple da-zi-baos (big character posters used as a means of expressing political views and opinions), to criticize "bourgeois" citizens and those who adopt Western ways.
|Collection of da-zi-bao's glued to walls attacking Chinese citizens and bourgeois beliefs.|
|"Red Successor" schoolchildren reading from the book Quotations from Chairman Mao Ze-Dong|
"Aunt Xi-Wen had not expected this. She gaped at us in alarm. She did not want to read the terrible things written about her, but she did not dare refuse. Her face was ugly with distress. She knew that no one would challenge anything we revolutionaries did to her." Page 47
The passage for my first connection takes place when a large group of students, including Jiang Ji-Li, take a da-zi-bao to Ji-Li's aunt's house and accuse her of being bourgeois. As the passage says, Aunt Xi-Wen did not expect that she would have to read the text out loud, but knew that she would be attacked if she refused and nobody would defend her. I can relate her situation with that of an autobiography I just finished reading called I Am Malala, written by Malala Yousafzai. In this book, Malala writes about how helpless many Pakistani citizens were across the country when their districts were under Taliban rule or influence.
Swat valley in Pakistan (where Malala's home is), was viciously controlled on multiple occasions by the Pakistani Taliban (led by Fazlullah). The Taliban were ruthless killers and terrorists and nobody dared to disobey their orders. For example, women who went outside without wearing a burka, or without a male relative were viciously beaten and tortured by the Taliban. Many people were outraged at the terrorist organization, but those who spoke out were usually murdered, while the government did nothing. Over time, barely anybody dared to lift their finger, because they knew that they would most likely be killed by Taliban militants and nobody would challenge anything that happened to them.
"'I know what her grandfather was.' He paused dramatically, sweeping his eyes across the class. 'He was a-- LANDLORD.'
... 'What's more, her father is a-- RIGHTIST.'" Page 58
The passage for my second connection takes place when the majority of Ji-Li's class corners and attacks her, due to her family's class status. At the time, landlords were considered "bloodsuckers" who exploited farmers and were worse than criminals or counterrevolutionaries. Mao Ze-Dong's revolution also looked down upon and attacked many jobs, such as landlords. This meant that a landlord's entire family was considered less than the rest of society. I can connect this whole idea of how people's family history and ancestor's occupations affected their future with the current escalating conflict between the Ukraine and Russia.
One of Russia's reasons to invade Crimea was based off of the fact that many people living there were actually Russian, so Crimea should become part of Russia. This reason was also backed up by the family history of many people living in Crimea and how many Ukrainian citizens had Russian backgrounds and ancestors (which caused Russia to attempt to "adopt" Crimea). Personally, I believe that a person's background matters less than who that person is. I believe that we must all be defined by our current actions, opinions and beliefs and not by our family history, or if our great-great grandfather was a merchant or farmer. I sometimes ask myself: why do so many members of society refuse to see each other as equals and not judge people by their history? As Thomas Jefferson once said, "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."
|Cultural Revolution Propaganda Poster: |
"Forging ahead courageously while following the great leader Chairman Mao!"