Study Guide

Red Scarf Girl Identity

By Ji Li Jiang


Who are you? Who's that guy over there? Who are we all? These are some of the big questions in life and they leave Ji-li scratching her head in Red Scarf Girl. Deep down, she thinks she knows who she is: a straight-A student with a great family and a dream of being a performer. But then when these things are stripped away from her and she gets majorly lost. Class isn't the same once the teachers are all trashed, and she can no longer become a Liberation dancer because of her sketchy family background. Ji-li has to start from scratch when it comes to her identity, and in many ways, Red Scarf Girl is all about discovering herself.

Questions About Identity

  1. How does Ji-li change over the course of the novel? Who does she become by the end? What is important to her? Give specific examples, please.
  2. How much of identity is ingrained? How much can it be shaped by our experiences?
  3. How do you define yourself? A sports star or mathlete? A prom queen or code writer? What if these elements were taken away from you? What would you use to define yourself then?

Chew on This

The fact that Ji-li loses her identity during the Cultural Revolution shows that her identity was actually super insecure to begin with.

Ji-li learns more about herself during the Cultural Revolution than anything elseā€”it pushes her to figure out what she values and what's important to her.