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Red Scarf Girl by by Ji Li Jiang

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 672
  • Category: Novel

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“ Red Scarf Girl” is an emotional novel written by Ji Li Jiang. She was born in Shanghai, in 1954. This award-winning novel occupies a very prestigious place in the realm of novel writing because of the fact that the main character of the novel is a true character and she is none other than the author of the novel Ji Li Jiang herself.

Primarily this novel is about the “Chinese Cultural Revolution” and its terrible effect on common people like Ji Li, who were honest to the core of their heart to the society and nation but due to the prevailing unethical and unlawful situation, they were subjected to all sorts of emotional, physical, social, political and economic torture.

 “Chinese Cultural Revolution” in brief was an unlawful and unethical struggle for power within the Communist Party of China, which grew to include large section of the Chinese society and eventually brought the country to the brink of civil war. It was launched by Communist Party of China Chairman, Mao Zedong on May 16,1966. In this Cultural Revolution, millions died and millions more were injured or sent to jail. Theirs goal was to finish four olds: old ideas, old culture, old customs and old habits. As Ji Li writes, “ Destroying the Four Olds was, a new battle, and an important one. It would keep China from losing Communist ideas. Though we were not facing real guns or real tanks, the battle would be even harder, because our enemies, the rotten ideas and customs we were so used to, were inside ourselves”. ( P/28-29)

In the year 1966, at the onset of “Chinese Cultural Revolution”, Ji Li was just 12 years of age. She was a brilliant student and a leader in her school. Also she had a shining future in Mao’s China. Her respect for Mao Zedong, Chairman, Communist Party of China could be imagined from her views, when she says, “Heaven and earth are great, but greatest still is the kindness of the Communist party, father and mother are dear, but dearer still is Chairman Mao “ But despite her total and honest commitment for communism in China, Since her grandfather was a Landlord, who were considered to be the exploiters of the working class, she was asked to choose between his family and her fate in the Communist Party of China.

After going through the novel, apart from the other heart breaking incidences, the most important issues are the some of the vital decisions taken by Ji Li. It may be her selection as a trainee of Liberation Army Soldier and subsequently denied by her family to join that as the same was not according to her family reputation or it may be her choice to opt between her bright political career in China and her family. At every occasion after a giving a well balanced thought in a situation of mental turmoil, she could prove her genius.

The situation became worse when her father was taken into custody for his refusal to confess the counter revolutionary activities of which he was falsely accused. The Red Guards asked Ji Li to testify publicly against her father. It was the most heart-wrenching decision of her life. As she writes “Our leader had taken advantage of our trust and loyalty to manipulate the whole country. This is the most frightening lesion of Cultural Revolution: Without a sound legal system, a small group or even a single person can take control of an entire country”. (P/266)

Very difficult to express but after reading this novel I must have developed this courage to say with confidence that I also should had taken the same decision, what had been taken by Ji Li.

For over twenty years Ji Li called and recalled her memories of childhood, and finally brought them to life in “Red Scarf Girl”, her first book in1997.


            * Jiang Ji Li “Red Scarf Girl”

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