Red Scarf Girl Summary: Ji-li Jiang's Transformation from Innocence to Independence

Categories: Book Review

So this piece of writing will tell you how a young girl went from innocent and naive to independent and mature. Basically at the beginning of the story the main character of the story, Ji-li Jiang, explains how she got her name. She explains it by saying she was born on Chinese New Year and that because of that her parents chose the name “Ji-li” because it means “lucky and beautiful”. And as quoted in her memoir “They hoped that I would be the happiest girl in the world”.

That is basically what her parents expected from her but she really was happy.

She stated that she was always proud of the things she had done because she would always excel in everything.

She said herself “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”. She explained 1966 was the year everything started to go down hill, which was the year “The Cultural Revolution” started.

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They had this one leader who went by the name of “Chairman Mao”, or at least that is what they called him because he was a Chairman. Anyways one day she was recruited for an audition of a dance class but her father refused to let her do it because if she didn’t pass something called “The Political Background Check” then her family would get in some trouble.

This made Ji-li so sad that she had to cry herself to sleep that night when her father told her about it.

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This probably made Ji-li think that she can’t really do anything she wants anymore, because she always thought her family and her were perfect but it didn’t seem like that to her anymore. She is not really sure about what to do now and that represents a change on how she sees everything from now on.

After a while, the Cultural Revolution finally begins, and Ji-li is really excited. She said she has always wanted to be a part of a revolution and is satisfied to finally contribute to Mao's cause.

Later in the story, Ji-li decides to help bring down a sign in the market and learns a lot about getting rid of the four-olds.

But then at school, Ji-li notices that classes aren't the same any more since teachers are devalued now, which as you know is not a good thing. Everybody then decides to write a da-zi-bao about the teachers and they all basically start hating on them, but Ji-li can't think of anything bad to say about hers because she doesn’t really go with it.

One of Ji-li’s classmates at school decides to accuse Ji-li's family of having a poor class status, which she knows can't be true. So then Ji-li gets curious and when she asks her dad about it, Ji-li finds out that her grandpa was a landlord, and a rich one, too. All of her classmates weren’t really happy knowing she is related to a landlord, which then later causes Ji-li to get unnecessary hate from everyone.

Then later Red Guards come to search Ji-li's house and they basically just try to take all her stuff awake which makes her very worried and scared but also more aware of the things going on around her.

Soon after, Ji-li's dad is arrested for literally no reason. So then she goes to give him a visit and she sees how sad he is. This makes Ji-li absolutely heart-broken but she is still strong.

Highschool then starts and Ji-li is happy to be able to focus on school again.

She is then chosen for a special exhibition but then is excused when she refuses to testify against her dad because he has done nothing wrong.

Then Ji-li got sent to the rice fields to work and reshape herself so that she is able to recover from all the past things she has been through, but it was so hot out there that she faints and has to go home again.

When she gets back to her house, Ji-li discovers that her mom wrote a letter to the government complaining about the local Red Guards abusing power.

But the Red Guards have learned of that too so they essentially just go to Ji-li’s house again, steal the letter her mom wrote then punish everyone.

Then Ji-li makes a promise her mom and says she will take care of her siblings if anything else happens.

But now thirty years go by, and Ji-li tells us what's happened to her since.

Her dad finally gets out of prison (what a relief honestly) and also gets reunited with the family but then after all of that is settled everyone then moved to the United States.

And this was an essay/summary of how Ji-li, went from a small naive girl to a strong, brave, independent person because of everything she has been through. Throughout the story Ji-li’s self awareness increases throughout the story because of everything she has seen and lived through.

Updated: Jan 25, 2024
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Red Scarf Girl Summary: Ji-li Jiang's Transformation from Innocence to Independence. (2024, Jan 25). Retrieved from

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