Study Guide

Red Scarf Girl Truth

By Ji Li Jiang


What is the truth? Is there even any such thing? The more we think about it, the trickier the truth is to pin down. Maybe that's the truth about truth: It's tricky. Ji-li definitely faces this in Red Scarf Girl. She's not sure whether she knows the truth about her family or not—after all, they've lied to her about her grandpa in the past—but then again, she can't get up on the stand and testify against her dad knowing it's not true, either. To her, truth is a big deal. To the Red Guards, though, not so much. They don't really care whether people are guilty of crimes; they just want confessions, and the juicier, the better.

Questions About Truth

  1. Who values truth in the novel? Who does not? What does this tell Ji-li about their characters?
  2. Why does Ji-li doubt the truth about her dad? What makes her question his involvement in criminal activity?
  3. In the epilogue, Ji-li tells us that they were all brainwashed and led to believe Mao's truth. How did that happen? What manipulation of the truth do we find in the book? How does freedom of the press (or lack thereof, in this case) play into the concept of truth? Are there ways in which Red Scarf Girl might be seen as propaganda in its own right?

Chew on This

In being anti-Maoist, Red Scarf Girl is propaganda, too. In other words, it also isn't the whole truth.

Red Scarf Girl shows there is totally such a thing as absolute truth.