Study Guide

Red Scarf Girl Fear

By Ji Li Jiang


A wise little green man once said, "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." We tend to agree with Yoda, and it sure seems true of Ji-li's situation. She is scared to death almost the entire novel. We're not talking things that go bump in the night or a haunted-house-at-Halloween scary. Red Scarf Girl offers a more bone-chilling type of fear, the kind that comes from knowing that at any point, Red Guards might show up and take you away for no reason at all. When this actually happens to her dad, Ji-li becomes scared of what the guards are doing to him. Fear eats away at her piece by piece in this book, and it certainly leads to suffering.

Questions About Fear

  1. What is Ji-li most afraid of? How does she cope with her fears?
  2. Why does Ji-li support the Cultural Revolution if she's afraid of what the Red Guards are doing? How do her fears show us her true feelings about the Revolution?
  3. What does Ji-li's fear motivate her to do? Would she act different if she wasn't afraid?
  4. What is your biggest fear? What is scary about Ji-li's situation?

Chew on This

Fear only leads to more suffering for Ji-li. If she weren't afraid, she wouldn't suffer so much in the book.

Fear is used by the Red Guards to make people behave in a certain way. Without fear, people wouldn't confess or rat out their friends.