Giulia Di Bella
Giulia Di Bella
Historical Events and Cultural Issues Influences Everyone
In the book, The Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-Li-Jiang there was one historical event that most influenced this novel. The Cultural Revolution. It was taking place all along and throughout the book. The Cultural Revolution took place in China, and was when a social-political movement took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 until 1976. Set by Mao Zedong, then Chairman of the Communist Party of China, its goal was to preserve 'true' Communist ideology in the country by getting rid of the small remaining of capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society, and to re-impose Maoist thought as the dominant ideology within the Party. The Revolution marked the return of Mao Zedong to a position of power after the Great Leap Forward (which was an economic and social campaign by the Communist Party of China (CPC) from 1958 to 1961 and it was also led by Mao Zedong and aimed to fastly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a socialist society through rapid industrialization and collectivization.) Both movements paralyzed China politically and significantly affected the country economically and socially (Wikipedia). So as we could see, these events were very marking for the society and for the people, and it strongly influenced the characters and ideas in the novel because all of the conflicts and happenings that were happening in the book, had something to do with this huge event. For example, in the first few chapters (2, 3, 4, and a little bit of 5, page 64-82), there was a movement called writing on da-zi-baos. These were just posters in which people used to criticize something like propaganda, protests, and popular communism (Wikipedia). In this case, students were writing about teachers and how they were false and teaching the kids about wrong things. But there were also da-zi-baos written about students, like for example, Ji-Li:
"Let’s Look at the Relationship Between Ke Cheng-li and His Favorite Student, Jiang Ji-li.” (page 79)
In this specific dialogue, a student wrote a da-zi-bao (criticism poster) about the protagonist, and this really affected her because even though it wasn't true, it was making it seem like it, and that really really bothered her.
So, this was only one of the things that was influenced by the enormous Cultural Revolution that was happening to China during this time period, but although it seemed like not a lot, it truly left a bruised mark for this society.
There were also some cultural issues that could have influenced, challenged and inspired the author in this novel, for example, again, the Cultural Revolution. Since, the protagonist of the book has the same name as the author of this book, this could have been a story about her life, or something in that sense. According to Harper Collins publisher, this book was an autobiography, so these events did, indeed, influence, challenge, and inspire the author in real life due to it being the real stories of her life. This means that events like writing the da-zi-baos, and what happened to her father (he got stuck in his working unit for doing something against the new revolution policy), really happened to her, and being so, it is clear that Ji-Li-Jiang really led this tough and agitated life.