Red Scarf Girl
Ji Li Jiang
Chapters 13, 14, 15
Literary Analysis Question
2) How does the protagonist change form the beginning to the end of the novel? What does this character learn about himself (or herself) and about how the world works?
Ji Li Jiang, the main character of the book Red Scarf Girl, drastically changes from the beginning to the end of the book. In the beginning, She thought she was the happiest person in the world. She had everything everyone wanted to have. Ji Li comes from a rich family, has perfect grades, is the leader of her class, and has good relationships with everyone. When the cultural revolution started, she was proud and supported the revolution and Chairman Mao’s ideas. Before the Cultural Revolution, her family’s past and background was not a problem and didn’t influence Ji Li’s actions. But, her life slowly started changing because of her family’s past. Before, Ji Li was the role model student and everyone highly respected her. When people found out that her grandfather was a landlord and that her father was falsely accused of listening to foreign radio, she got bullied, humiliated, had a da-zi-bao written about her and couldn’t do things that she wanted because of her black family. Her family’s background influenced everything she did. For example, when Ji Li was chosen to represent her class in the Class Education Exhibition, she wrote a really powerful speech that moved everyone in the audience. Everyone loved it. Her teacher chose Ji Li to represent the class because he knew that there is no one better than her to represent his class. He believed that she is strong enough to overcome all the obstacles that she would have to face because of her black family. But, the principal removes her because of her bad status. They knew that Ji Li was the perfect student. They knew she was a great writer and awed many people with her speech. She was the best out of all the students. She stood out the most but still, she was removed because of her political situation. Ji Li also helps more with housework and becomes more responsible and mature. Before, her family had a housemaid, Song PoPo. But, they fired her because they were afraid of being caught. Without their housemaid, Ji Li helps her mother clean the house, she woke up earlier and went to the market to buy ingredients and cooked. With more responsibilities, the more mature and responsible Ji Li became.
Throughout the book, we can see how Ji Li slowly starts realizing that the Cultural Revolution is bad and not good and that life is not fair. In the beginning, the cultural revolution was everything to her. She loves the ideas and changes that Chairman Mao wants to do to their country. She believes that theses changes are for the best and does everything she can to support it. From the point where they start writing da-zi-bao of the teachers, she starts realizing that the Cultural Revolution is not good. When they were writing the da-zi-baos, she couldn't think of anything bad to say about her teacher because they did nothing wrong. Teachers did nothing wrong and Chairman Mao is changing everything of schools. They go to junior high according to where they live and not by their grades. Ji Li sees that it is not right. Later on, when the Red Guards invade their house, she realizes that there is no where where she can have privacy. Home, where you can be comfortable and safe doesn't exist. From the actions made by the Red Guards, she realizes that it is a bad thing. Ji Li realizes that life is not fair. The example I gave before about the da-zi-baos about the teachers shows that. The teachers did nothing wrong for teaching students. They say that the teachers are anti-revolutionists because of the way they teach. Teachers were blamed and cursed for doing nothing wrong. For example, in of the dao-zi-baos, they were cursing the teacher and saying they were anti-revolutionists for scolding the kids for fighting. Ji Li realizes that it is unfair for the teachers because they were blamed for things they did nothing wrong of. When Ji Li was being humiliated by her peers for having a grandfather that was a landlord, she was really angry. She didn't think it was fair that she was being treated like that when she never saw her grandfather or talked to him. She didn't feel like she was connected with her grandfather. She wasn't close to him and never saw him but was still blamed and bullied for having a grandfather that was a landlord. She also finds it's not fair that her father was being accused of listening to foreign radio when he never did. When the people from the theater came to see her to ask about her father, she would say the truth that he never listened to foreign radio but they wouldn't believe her. It was not fair that they falsely accused her father of listening, asked her and the rest of the family to confess and tell the truth, they say the truth but don't believe them.
I chose this image because life is better for some and worse for others. It is not fair. It is not balanced just like this balance.
Link to image.