The rise of communism in China was a confusing time for many. The way of life many people lived changed, especially in the cities where people were more visible. Things that were once thought of as traditions, were denounced. Family members who were considered too far to the right were denounced. Precious family heirlooms were destroyed because they did not fit in with the current atmosphere.
Ji-Li grew up during this time. Her family had once been prosperous, and still were to an extent, but they now only lived in one room. The one room was large, but it was still just one room. Ji-Li wanted to server her government. She wanted to audition for a dance troupe, but her parents told her not to because her family would not pass a background inspection.
As the months went by, Ji-Li learned more about her family. Her grandfather had been landlord and that was now seen as a bad thing. Her entire family was labeled as black because they were more well-to-do than others and the patriarch, no longer living, had once been paid rent. Ji-li’s father was taken away. The house was searched from top to bottom, not once, but twice. The family was left with nothing by the time it was all over.
Ji-Li was not allowed to join student government organizations and was counseled to leave her family; this she did not want to do.
Later on, Ji-Li moved away from China to the United States, where she started with nothing, but she is glad to have her Chinese heritage and also to be away from China.
What I liked
Sometimes our country sounds like a bad place with all the new laws imposed and things that are going on that shouldn’t be going on, but when we compare our country to China under Mao…we practically live in paradise. China got really rough under Mao’s rule. This is the kind of book that makes me glad I wasn’t born in China.
Ji-Li is one tough person. She went through all of the things she went through, then left her home and started completely over in a new country. That takes a lot of guts, but she probably felt that anything was better than what she had. There are times when we could stay in our current situation and we would be close to the things that we cared about, in Ji-li’s case her country and family, but we realize that it’s not good for us to stay. We have to make our own way in the world. We’re being oppressed in our current situation and we just have to leave. In a place where there is no future there is no need to stay.
It takes so much out of a person to rip away from a way of life. It’s definitely an experience that makes a person who they are. Ji-Li was able to do the things she did because she ripped herself away from her homeland and way of life. That’s tough, but now she’s in a better place for her.
What I didn’t like
This whole thing seems like an act.
Step right up!
See the actors be patriotic citizens!
See them turn on their neighbors to please the government!
See how they act in this manner now that the government has changed!
It’s all a bit act. It’s an act. The whole thing is an act. Why do I repeat it so many times? I repeat it so many times because it’s true. None of this was real. I mean, these terrible things really happened to people, but the way they were acting was an act. They were all putting on a show for their government at all times of the day because they never knew who was watching. They feared for their lives so they pretended to be these upstanding proletarians of Mao. Everybody has this part to play. None of it was real. None of it meant anything in the long run. It was as if everybody had turned into puppets on strings.
Oh, there were consequences, people weren’t just acting for the heck of it. They knew that if they didn’t behave in a certain manner that they could be beaten or executed, even so, it was still an act. How many people do you actually think LOVED the way things were? There were some to be sure, but the majority of the people probably weren’t liking the way things were going. We know this because we’ve had so many Chinese people come out and say how displeased they were with the way things were going in China.
Look here people, if your government is truly a good government you shouldn’t feel as if you need to put on an act to be a patriotic citizen. If your government is good, you’re patriotic because you see that your government is doing good things and you want to help. You believe in the ideologies set up by your government. If you have to force something as hard as Ji-Li, her friends, and family were forcing being loyal citizens, then it’s tyranny, not governance.
In addition to this, we get in to the whole idea of being brain-washed by your government, which did happen to some of the people Ji-Li knew, but we’re not going to get into all of that here.
I breathe a sigh of relief with Ji-li for not being in this situation anymore.
Do you think you could have gone through some of the things Ji-Li went through and still turned out to be a functioning adult?
Do you think people were just brain-washed or where they just playing a part? Or both?