Study Guide

Song Po-po in Red Scarf Girl

By Ji Li Jiang

Song Po-po

Ji-li's family's housekeeper, Song Po-po is more than just a cleaning lady. She becomes important to the Jiangs and cares a lot about them. Eventually, they have to let her go because it's against the new government rules to have a housekeeper. Ji-li tells us:

Song Po-po was part of the family, and it was good that she was not working for us. It meant we were not exploiting her. (6.31)

Even as Ji-li tells us this, we get the sense that she's conflicted. On the one hand, employing people to do chores is a big no-no according to Mao, but on the other hand, Song Po-po enjoys doing stuff for the family. She's devastated when she can't any more—so devastated, in fact, that she keeps sneaking upstairs to help cook and clean. It's clear that Song Po-po doesn't have much to do without the Jiang family. Even though some rich people might exploit their maids and housekeepers, the Jiangs certainly do not.