Red Scarf Girl

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It's 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, tons of friends, and a bright future in Communist China. But it's also the year that China's leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution—and Ji-li's world begins to fall apart. Over the next few years, people who were once her friends and neighbors turn on her and her family, forcing them to live in constant terror of arrest. When Ji-li's father is finally imprisoned, she faces the most difficult dilemma of her life.

This is the true story of one girl's determination to hold her family together during one of the most terrifying eras of the twentieth century.

Curriculet Details
56 Questions
64 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This Curriculet, written for sixth grade students, features text annotations and photos to assist with cultural and historical references from the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Also included in the annotations are prompts to look for details to support main ideas, and links to related text sources. Embedded videos discuss theme development and mood versus tone. Questions and quizzes address vocabulary in context, structure and idea development, and comparing text to multimedia sources.

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Note on Pronunciation

Take a minute to preview this page to help with the Chinese pronunciation of words and names that you will read in this text. For non-Chinese speakers, it may be challenging to remember the different characters' names because they will be unfamiliar. As you read, pay special attention as each character is introduced. 


Proletarian refers to a social class of people that does not own the means of production, and whose only means of supporting themselves is to sell their labor for a wage.  
David Henry Hwang included this anecdote about the sparrows to illustrate that 


Ji-li's feelings towards Chairman Mao are 
As you read on, pay attention to details that reveal what the Cultural Revolution was. Later, you will view a short video to compare information from the text with information from another source. 

The Liberation Army Dancer

Select three words or phrases from the text that contribute to a happy, peaceful mood. 
According to the glossary at the back of the book, Communism is "an economic system in which all means of production, such as land and natural resources, are owned by the entire community and are used for the good of its members." 
This position is similar to a student council president at an American elementary school.  
Teacher Gu is _____________ of Ji-li. 
Ji-li believes that her family is nearly perfect. As you read on, pay attention to details that describe her family. 
List three details that support the idea that Ji-li's family is "nearly perfect." 
A salon is a gathering of artists and writers that is held to increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. 
This sentence uses  ________ to explain what Ji-li thinks will happen to her dreams. 

Destroy the Four Olds!

The author included the description of the bookstall primarily to show 
The author is explaining an important element of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As you read on, pay attention to the way different characters react to destroying the "Four Olds." 
Summarize the incident with the Great Prosperity Market sign. 
If something is auspicious, that means it is a good omen, or predictive of future success.  
Ji-li believes the people on the street did the right thing by destroying the Four Olds signs. Which character seems to have a different perspective?  
Here is a short video of Mao speaking about the Korean war. What can you tell about him as a leader from the way he addresses the crowd and how they react to him?  (This annotation contains a video)
Bourgeoisie refers to the social class that owns the means of production and therefore, has the most money. The are the opposite of the proletariate. 
How is Ji-li's point of view on destroying the fourolds starting to shift? 
"Xeno" is the Greek word for foreign and "phile" is Greek for love.  
Exploitation is the act of treating someone unfairly while benefitting from their work. 

Writing Da-zi-bao

The author describes how frightening it was to realize their school system was a mess. Do you think, looking back, the author would agree with this point of view?  
This is a photograph of a group of people reading da-zi-bao that had been posted on walls.  (This annotation contains an image)
The word insidious in this sentence could be replaced with  
This sentence contributes to the development of the da-zi-bao story by showing that  
In this paragraph, the author describes how Yin Lan-lan has changed as a result of the movement. Think about what this reveals about the possible motivations of the people involved. 
Which of the following is text evidence to support the idea that Ji-li feels conflicted about the revolution? 
Click here to read a poem written after World War II. How does the theme of this poem relate to Ji-li's situation?  (This annotation contains a link)
How does the theme of the Martin Niemoller poem relate to Ji-li's current situation? 

The Red Successors

Now that you have read three chapters of Red Scarf Girl and have some idea of what the Chinese Cultural Revolution was, here is a short video that gives another account. As you watch the video, think about which ideas from the video are represented in the book and which ideas have not been represented so far. (This annotation contains a video)
Think about the video you just watched. Identify one idea from the video that has been represented in the book and one idea that has not been represented. 
As you might remember from the video, Landlords were one of the nine categories of enemies that were singled out by Mao to be targeted.  
The word pandemonium in this sentence describes 
Here is a photo of the China-Soviet Friendship Mansion. It was built to commemorate an alliance between China and Russia. (This annotation contains an image)
Here is a picture of what the Red Successors may have looked like. What can you tell about them from this picture?  (This annotation contains an image)
Is Yin Lan-lan's argument valid?  Explain your answer. 
Here is a picture of a Chinese pedicab. Why would this have been an example of an "extravagant bourgeois lifestyle?"  (This annotation contains an image)
This passage contains an example of personification. What is the author trying to demonstrate by personifying the flower? (This annotation contains a video)


In this chapter, Ji-li's mood goes from happy to sad and back again. Pay attention to what causes her mood to shift. 
Why was Ji-li mourning? 
Here is an example of what a poster of Chairman Mao might have looked like. What can you tell about the peoples' impression of Mao from the way the poster is drawn?  (This annotation contains an image)
The author's description of how the cut-paper characters suggests that 

The Sound of Drums and Gongs

This passage contains  _______ to describe why people wanted to destroy the Four Olds. 
Mah-jongg is a game played with a set of painted tiles that is similar to the card game rummy. Do you think playing this game shows that Old Lady Rong is a bad person?  (This annotation contains an image)
After reading the previous section that describes the ransacking of a house by the Red Guard, you might wonder what the people involved might think years later about what they did. Click here to listen to a story about members of the Red Guard apologizing.  (This annotation contains a link)
The word vulnerable in this sentence could be replaced with  
As you read on, pay attention to what Ji-li and her siblings' actions reveal about their characters. 
The author included this episode with the pedicab to prove 
Here is an example of what an ancient Chinese gown might look like.  (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz 1 

The Propaganda Wall

Which phrase from these sentences contributes to a dangerous mood? 
Here is another example of a piece of propaganda that supports nuclear weapons. The Chinese text translates to "Topple Soviet revisionists. Smash the dunderheads (dog heads in Chinese)." If you look closely, you can see one of the figures in the center is a very famous American. (This annotation contains an image)
As you read Jia Hong-yu's report, think about what role she plays in advancing the story. Why did the author include her at this point in the autobiography? 
Complete this sentence:The author most likely included Jia Hong-yu's report to demonstrate... 
A washboard is a tool that someone hand-washing clothes would rub their clothes against for scrubbing.  (This annotation contains an image)
The author's use of ellipses (...) in these sentences adds to a feeling of 
According to the author's glossary at the back of the book, a crematorium is "the building where the bodies of the dead are cremated - that is, burned. Non-religious memorial services were performed at the crematorium, since all religion was condemned as superstition during the Cultural Revolution. In China today bodies are usually cremated, because land is considered too valuable to use for graves." 

A Search in Passing

The word jovial in this sentence probably means 
Tai-chi is an exercise performed by coordinating breathing with slow, graceful movements.  (This annotation contains a video)
Here is a picture of a grown woman's feet after having been bound in childhood.  (This annotation contains an image)
The author uses personification to describe 
Liu Shao-qi was eventually arrested in 1967. He suffered regular beatings at public meetings, and was denied medication for diabetes and pneumonia. Some say he was only kept alive to serve as a "living target" of traitors and enemies. He died in 1969. This cause of death was listed as "illness."  (This annotation contains an image)
You can infer that Ji-yong 
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Consider how the following episode would have unfolded differently if the China had similar legal guidelines. 
Would a "search in passing" be legal in the United Stated according to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution?  Why or why  not? 


The following section tells about how teachers were treated. Click here to view a video about how one man has come to terms with how he treated his teacher when he was 8 years old. (This annotation contains a link)
Click here to watch a video about a man who denounced his mother in 1970. As you watch, think about how his story is similar to Shan-Shan and Aunt Xi-wen's story. (This annotation contains a video)
What information was presented in the video that was similar to information from the book? 
How do these sentences represent an emerging theme in the text?  (This annotation contains a video)
Do you think what is happening to Ji-li and her family is really the work of fate?  Why or why not? 
Here is a picture of someone forced to wear a dunce cap. Image what it would feel like for Xiou-cheng to see his father like this. As you read on, are you surprised by his reaction? (This annotation contains an image)
The quotation marks around the words 'hanged himself' help you to infer that  
According to the author's glossary at the back of the book, Allah is "the Moslem name for God. Moslems are a religious minority in China. Most Chinese Moslems live in western China, but there are some, like the Jiang family, who live in eastern cities such as Shanghai."  

Junior High School at Last

The author's tone is very optimistic. Do you think now that she has started junior high school her problems will be over? Does the mood of the story contradict the author's tone? (This annotation contains a video)
What effect is created by putting these two conversations back to back? 
The idea of contradictions is a minor theme in this chapter. You have already read two contradictions. As you read on, try to identify other ways that the author presents good and bad at the same time. 
The author most likely included this sentence about the sparrows to show 
Pay attention to when the character of Bai Shan appears again in the text. 
Explain the simile in this sentence in your own words. 
Once again, the author is using juxtaposition (putting opposite things next to each other) to show that the good goes along with the bad. Sometimes, seemingly opposite forces actually work together. In Chinese philosophy, this is called ying-yang and is represented by the following symbol:  (This annotation contains an image)
Ji-li decides not to work on the newspaper because 

Locked Up

Almost 50 years after the events of this book took place, China's highest courts banned confessions made as a result of torture. Click here to read an article, considering the author's point of view as you read. (This annotation contains a link)
The word leniency in this sentence could be replaced with  
In the opening sentence of the prologue, the author stated, "I was born on Chinese New Year." Consider the mood at the beginning of the story and, as you read on, think about how much has changed. 
Compare how Chinese New Year has changed in Ji-li's life from when she was a child until now. 
Consider how the author's use of figurative language contributes to the mood of the story.  
This sentence contains 
In this paragraph, the man is presenting Ji-li with a choice - make a break with her parents, or be forever condemned. As you read on, pay attention to what Ji-li decides to do and why. 

An Educable Child

If Lin-lin expected a reproach, she expected  
In the following dialogue, the theme of fate will be revisited. Pay attention to how Ji-li might overcome the fate of her family. 
You can infer that Ji-li feels 
Find text evidence to explain how Ji-li might overcome the fate of her family. 
Millet is a tiny grain that can be food for humans or used in birdseed. You can see from the picture why gluing dyed millet to paper to make a portrait would take a very long time.  (This annotation contains an image)
Here is a poster of revolutionary activities. How did the illustrator make the people look proud and excited? (This annotation contains an image)
Why did the author include information about Chang Hong's brother with epilepsy? 
Quiz 2 

Half-City Jiangs

The family is thrilled to hear the news that dad is cleared of the charges. Think about the pattern that the author has been using to describe cycles of excitement and disappointment. Do you predict Dad is coming home? 
Select words or phrases from the text that reflect Mom's and Grandma's mood. 
On of the underlying conflicts in the story has been whether Ji-li will support her "black" family, or cut ties with her family to protect her own future. As you read this paragraph, you can sense that her conflict is becoming more intense. 
The word domineering is related to the word 
For now, Ji-li has decided not to break ties with her family. As you read on, look for evidence that supports her decision. 
Describe how Song Po-po's behaviors support Ji-li's decision to not break ties with her family. 

The Class Education Exhibition

The Chinese fiddle is called an ehru. Here is a video what it sounds like. Can you hear why Ji-li describes it as mournful? (This annotation contains a video)
The word infamous in this sentence means 
Here is a picture of a struggle meeting. You can understand why people felt humiliated and intimidated into confessing to things they did not do. (This annotation contains an image)
This sentence contains 
You can infer that Ji-li did not take the book because 

The Rice Harvest

As you continue reading Chang Hong and Ji-li's conversation, think about the reasons why Ji-li ultimately agrees with Chang Hong. 
According to the text, Ji-li ultimately decides to go to the countryside 
Here is a short video showing someone harvesting rice by hand. You can see from the video this is hard work. (This annotation contains a video)
Identify an example of personification in this paragraph. 
This sentence reveals that Ji-li was having a dream. Re-read this section and try to determine what her dream might symbolize. 

The Incriminating Letter

Summarize Mom's purpose for writing the letter. 
The word obstinate in this sentence could be replaced with  
This paragraph contains 


This story has had many examples of conflict. Ji-li has been in conflict with a society that devalues her as a human because of her social class. Ji-li has also had an internal conflict within herself in trying to decide whether to cut ties with her family, or risk her own future. In the following paragraphs, Ji-li describes a promise that she makes. How does her promise represent a resolution to Ji-li's internal conflict in the story? 
Explain Ji-li's promise and how it represents a resolution to her internal conflict. 


An Epilogue is a section at the end of a book that serves as a comment or conclusion about about has happened. Although the author has given clues all along for her purpose for writing this book, in the Epilogue she will state it explicitly. As you read on, pay attention to why she wrote this book. 
Chinese "reeducation" camps continued for more than 50 years and were just abolished at the end of 2013.  (This annotation contains a video)
Explain why Ji-li Jiang wrote this book.  Use text evidence in your answer. 
Quiz 3