Red Scarf Girl
By Jiang Ji-Li
A Tough Childhood in a Tough World
“With my red scarf, the emblem of the Young Pioneers, tied around my neck, and my heart bursting with joy, I achieved and grew every day until that fateful year, 1966“ (Jiang 1). Ji-Li was a shiny, joyful girl, she thought that her life was the happiest of all, she felt immense love for her family and her culture, her life was troubled less, until the Cultural Revolution began. Every aspect of her life was threatened because of her class status, in school, she would be taken a part from activities other children were able to perform, like being a Red Successor. Several of her belongings were taken away from her… including her dad. Ji-Li became a shy girl, scared of the world. We all grow up, mature and make decisions. We all treasure the memories of our childhood in a special drawer in our heart, though they are all different from other people´s memories. For the protagonist of this novel, Jiang Ji-Li these memories are tough.
In the climax of the novel, the author shows us a tough decision that is presented to Ji-Li, she has to choose between her nation and her family. At first she embraced the idea to change her name, to cut any reins with her family. “Chairman Mao says you can't choose your class status but you can choose your own future“ (Jiang 215). She feels the need of being an “educable child“ and follow the path of her country. Secondly, Ji-Li develops a strong personality and self sufficient motto, she assumes the load of her brother and sister and even her grandma. Her childhood seems threatened, she has to grow faster, grow and make decisions.
After all our Red Scarf Girl chooses her family over class status, she decides to embrace the idea of her being somehow different, she has her mindset defined and faces with courage the situations China is going through. In the chapter called “The Rice Harvest“ she demonstrates her responsibility and hard work. “I had no secrets no goals, and no need to make an effort to impress anybody“ (Jiang 230). Her house was inspected, her belongings were taken away, her parents were punished, China teared her childhood a part, but she never gave up. In the epilogue Ji-Li talks as a grown-up and explains how her adulthood made of her a strong woman. She set a mission for herself, passing the message and her experience to young minds, for them to have a bigger perspective of what's out there.
What was grown-up- Ji-Li´s overall perspective? “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. This is as true now as it was then“ (Jian 266). She believes that hers was a lucky situation, she had few education and no skills, though she managed to write this masterpiece and illuminate the world with her story.