Historical Context Question
1.How did historical events influence the ideas in the novel? What cultural issues may have influenced, challenged, or inspired the author?
The historical event that had influenced the book the most so far is mentioned on chapter 2, from page 21. The cultural revolution of "Destry the Four Olds". "Four Olds" stands for old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits. The citizens back then were convinced that they would never succeed at building a strong socialist country until they have destroyed "the Four Olds"and established the "Four News". In this scene, the names of many shops still stank of old culture, so people were smashing the signs to make way for the coming of new ideas. The author has explained and helped us visualize this one big demonstration from the main character's (Ji-li's) unique point of view. This historical event influenced the novel because it had shown one big example of cultural revolution happening at that time. Which helped us visualize the story even better, and made it more interesting to read.
One huge cultural issue for Ji - li ( the main character ) was her families class status. It had changed, and challenged her life in many aspects. First, on page 6, she was one of the four students who had been selected to audition for the Central Liberation Army Arts Academy. However her father told her to drop the audition because even though she would have passed the audition she cant pass the political background investigation, and everyone will know that Ji - li 's family has a political problem. Ji - li couldn't get over this fact that she dropped her big life time chance. On page 18, she says "I thought about my beautiful dreams and wondered if they would drift away just like those lovely soap bubbles. " Until then, she had never doubted the future had been full of infinite possibilities. Now, she was no longer sure if that was true. Ji - li had lost hope. However the next happening has changed Ji-lis life completely. The movement of writing big posters, da-zi-bao, criticising the educational system, which started on page 38. Ji-li's classmates, started to write their working on their posters, saying bad things about their teachers. However, Ji-li and her best friend An Yi couldn't write anything bad about their teachers, because they truly admired them and appreciated them. So they just kept ignoring their classmates who wanted to protest about their teachers. Everything was going fine until one day, a da-zi-bao about Ji-li and her relationship with a teacher was made. She couldn't let go of that fact for a while, until she was chosen to be the red successor on page 56, which was one of her dreams. However, her classmates started asking her about her family status, and thats when everything turned upside down. After all, she was not allowed to be a red successor because of her family status. She had discovered the true, secret of her family that she never wished to know. Later on, things got worse. The red successors started treating her like an enemy, all because of her family status. Ji - li had become a confident class reader to a quite student in the back of the classroom.
I chose this image because on page 70, Ji-li had found a lonely flower in the corner of the school yard, and said " She (the flower) was lonely as I was. I did not know her name. Softly I stroked her petals, thinking that I would take care of her as I wished someone would take care of me. "