Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

by Jiang Ji-Li

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How does Ji-li's behavior differ from her thoughts in Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution?

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Red Scarf Girl is about the experiences of Ji-li Jiang during the Cultural Revolution in China. At this time, Chairman Mao wanted the Chinese people to recommit themselves to Communist principles. As part of this effort, a representative from the Liberation Army comes to Ji-li's school and selects her to audition for the Central Liberation Arts Academy. However, in the end, she must refuse to audition. Her father tells her that it is best for her not to audition. She finds out later that her family used to function as landlords, which is counter to the Cultural Revolution.

Ji-li wants to audition and thinks that auditioning would bring her joy and attention; however, in the end, she does not do so. Ji-li instead hands her principal a note from her father in an action described in the following way:

"Hastily I handed her the note, damp with sweat from my palm. I hurried out of the office before she could look at it or ask any questions. I ran down the hallway, colliding with someone and running blindly on, thinking only that she must be very disappointed" (11).

Ji-li wants to be popular in her school and to please her principal, but she must tell her principal that she does not want to audition for the Central Liberation Arts Academy, because her father tells her she shouldn't. Only later does she understand why. Perhaps you can find other examples in the book of times when Ji-li acts in a way that is contrary to her thoughts and desires.

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