The Red Scarf Girl

TheRed Scarf Girl

TheRed Scarf Girl

Thered scarf girl recognized as a dancer for liberation army in 1996depicts the struggle of the Chinese society. The events took placeduring the immediate beginning of the Cultural Revolution. It is thestory told by a preteen Chinese girl, Jin-li, who faces personal andsocial challenges. The dilemma is between her love and duties towardsher family and her patriotic task towards Chairman Mao. There arenumerous issues depicted in the text. The general context of issuesis focused on moral and philosophical challenges (Jiang,1997).


Moralchallenges that are depicted include violence and sexually explicitcontent deems the scenes of the book. Also, the use of profanity isviewed in both language and content. The author places emphasis onthe idea of era’s twisted morality. It is viewed by Ji-li’sattempts to fight with the idea of betrayal. She faces a dilemma ofdeciding between her family and The Red Guard, with fear that shemight end up breaking ties with her family. In the text, Jin-liexplains how she feels remorseful for the humiliation that she causedtowards her friends and relatives. On the other hand, the author alsoshows morality dilemma, because she sticks to her lack of belief in agod (Makeham,2003).On the other hand, her family is filled with the staunch belief ofAllah. Instead, she sticks on the belief of predicting the future.

Violenceis also a moral issue that the author attempts to narrate. During theChinese Cultural Revolution, the society was filled with individualsforming a rebellion against the movement. Reservation of thepre-existing cultural state was the main agenda of these individuals.In a bid to preserve the culture, the Red Guard responds by torturingindividuals with merit of a ‘blacklist’ status. When violencereaches a peak point, individuals prefer suicide as an escape fromthe torture and other forms of violence. Ji-li’s brother is alsoseen to be involved in numerous fights, getting a black in oneoccasion. The author explains her fear of violence, the ‘blacklist’and the Red Guards (Jiang,1997).


Theauthor attempts to create a perspective to readers, in a bid to helpthemselves and history. There is a clear examination of all theaspects of a culture including racism, anti-Semitism and prejudice.During the era of this revolution, the society was not versed withthe new lifestyles that were being introduced into their lives. Theauthor enlightens readers to the fact that humanity takes time toembrace. A society will have different perspectives about an issue,and that is brought to public. Some people see the change in culturetrends as a possible threat to their existence and the existence ofwhat is normal to them. The fear, combined with ignorance and selfishinterests of some individuals’ results into violence. The authorshows that the humanity is filled with darkness, which is seen in thepresentation of hostile conditions. The author explains moral dilemmaas an issue that affects the Chinese community during the mid-20thcentury (Makeham,2003). However, this issue is not only depicted in this era and community,but through time and in current societal situations. It brings torealization the importance of education of strong moral values, froma basic level of family to a larger societal scope.

Addressingissues of morality is an important aspect of education that empowersindividuals with the ability to confidently denounce their positionin matters of moral decisions. The author also attempts to bringfocus on the societal obligation that is endowed to individuals,demanding them to live by choices. Emphasis is that the humanitylives in a world filled with choices, having to pick what directionto travel (Yang,1994).She also illustrates that these choices that individuals make, affectthem onwards. We all have to live by the consequences of ourdecisions. Ji-li is faced with shame and sadness after she made thedecision to stand by Chairman Mao, facing the risk of being disownedby her family and friends.


Societysince time immemorial is faced with the struggle of social andpersonal challenges. Evolution, however, has dictated that what mayhave been a problem then may not be an issue now. Issues pertainingsociety and individuals are faced with the background question ofwhether they fit within a culture’s moral scope (Yang,1994).Whether conformity, identity, loyalty, obedience, justice or desire,we are faced with the dilemma of morality. Ji-li is a mere fractionof the entire society. She reveals the existing issues that challengeour morality. The author shows that a culture can be an inhibitor toindividuals’ pursuit of their dreams. Ji-li was faced with the dutyto maintain herself to the confines of family and culture, whichwould mean that she would not pursue her dreams of becoming a dancer.Peoples’ participation in self-fulfilling activities may berestrained by the culture one is born. However, this should not bethe why human beings should not attempt to dream.


Jiang,J. (1997). Redscarf girl(1st ed.). New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Makeham,J. (2003). Newconfucianism(1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Yang,M. (1994). Gifts,favors, and banquets(1st ed.). Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.