Ji-li does not like being singled out, even if the intentions are friendly. She has suffered from too many unfriendly singling outs.
Ji-li is thrilled to be going to junior high, because she thinks she is going to finally be able to move on with her life after the difficult initial months of the Cultural Revolution. When Ji-li’s math teacher announces to the class that she has earned 100 percent, she is upset at first. She does not want to be singled out.
Then I saw the expression in their eyes. Every face was friendly. Chang Hong expressed her admiration openly and directly. … Even Teacher Li’s usually serious face was smiling slightly. (p. 170)
This incident tells Ji-li that Junior High will be different. She is turning a corner. Now she has a chance at a normal life, and finding a way to exist under the Cultural Revolution, just as her teacher who adds quotes from Chairman Mao to her own notes instead of reading scripts does.