Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

by Jiang Ji-Li

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In Red Scarf Girl, why did Teacher Zhang want Ji-li to attend a school meeting?

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The purpose of the meeting, which was scheduled by the school's Red Guard Committee, was to discuss a planned Class Education Exhibition to "expose the class enemies' evil and remind (them) of the misery of the old society and (their) happiness today".  Students selected to attend were "handpicked for both academic and political excellence".  Teacher Zhang feels that Ji-li would be perfect to represent the class because of her excellent Mandarin and because she has won several speech contests.  Although he knows about her family's undesirable history, he refers to the Revolutionary philosophy, pointing out that, as an "educable child", Ji-li can rise above her lineage and choose her own future.  He tells Ji-li that because she has self-esteem and always tries to excel, he believes she is "brave enough to face and eventually overcome the difficulties of life".  Unaware at this point that she is being brainwashed, but knowing the trouble this could cause for her family, Ji-li is confused, but, touched by Teacher Zhang's sincerity, agrees to do the job (Chapter 12).

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