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THE TOOLKIT Welcome to Wild Swans! In this Toolkit, you will find everything you need to get ready for your trip to the A.R.T. ENGAGE Lesson Plan........................................................................................................................... 2 Memoir Brainstorming Worksheet ............................................................................. 6 Memoir Worksheet............................................................................................................ 7 The Cultural Revolution at 45........................................................................................ 8 Writing Wild Swans........................................................................................................... 11 EXPERIENCE Who's Who.......................................................................................................................... 13 History on Stage...............................................................................................................14 Mao, Mu, and More .......................................................................................................... 17 ENRICH The Great Leap Forward ............................................................................................... 18 Mao's 3 main rules of Discipline ................................................................................ 20

Welcome. to the Wild Swans Educational Toolkit! Our mission at the A.R.T. is to connect the classroom and the stage through arts-integrated lesson planning and enriching background information. We hope this Toolkit will generate educational and meaningful discussions around the main ideas in Wild Swans including Chinese history, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the purpose of a memoir. Included in the Wild Swans Educational Toolkit is a lesson plan that focuses on literacy and the concept of memoir. Through this lesson plan, students will read two articles related to Wild Swans that will introduce them to the Chinese Cultural Revolution period and the genesis of Jung Chang’s memoir, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. The culminating activity for this lesson will allow students the opportunity to brainstorm their own memoir— focusing on change that has occurred in their life and how they would structure their story through a clear and compelling narrative. Students will then create a title page and table of contents that outlines their memoir. Following the lesson plan, you will find more information about the current production of Wild Swans such as character descriptions, scene outlines, and important concepts that will be featured in the show. At the end of the Toolkit there are further readings on the historical context of Wild Swans. The Wild Swans Educational Toolkit and the production of Wild Swans at the A.R.T., work together to inspire students to forge new relationships with theater. It is our hope that you will use this Toolkit to establish a powerful connection between history, literacy, and the arts in your classroom. Sincerely, The A.R.T. educational staff

WILD SWANS LESSON PLAN Objectives Students will gain a fundamental knowledge of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Mao Zedong. Students will understand what a memoir is and the roles that it may serve. Students will use brainstorming and creative thinking skills to outline their own memoirs. Students will gain the background knowledge to engage more fully in the theatrical experience of Wild Swans at the A.R.T. Connections to Massachusetts Guiding Principles for English Language Arts and Literacy Guiding Principle 1 - An effective English language arts and literacy curriculum develops thinking and language together through interactive learning. Guiding Principle 3 - An effective English language arts and literacy curriculum draws on informational texts and multimedia in order to build academic vocabulary and strong content knowledge. Guiding Principle 10 - An effective English language arts and literacy curriculum reaches out to families and communities in order to sustain a literate society. Materials Wild Swans Education Toolkit Procedure 1. Lead a short brainstorming session to activate students’ prior knowledge of Chinese history and culture. 2. Read "The Cultural Revolution at 45" from the Wild Swans Toolkit. 3. Conduct a class discussion based on the provided discussion questions about the article. 4. Read "Writing Wild Swans" from the Wild Swans Toolkit. 5. Conduct a class discussion based on the provided discussion questions about memoirs. 6. Prompt students to brainstorm about their history, changes that have occurred in their life, and how these changes have affected who they are. Students can use the Memoir Brainstorming Worksheet for this.

Assignment Students will create a table of contents for their memoir. Each chapter title should be a different part of their history that informs their overall thesis. Titles should be creative and insightful based on the events they would wish to include. Students should also title their memoir and create a title page along with their table of contents. Feel free to use artwork to supplement this activity. Extension To learn more about Mao Zedong and Chinese history, read "The Great Leap Forward" in the Toolkit. To familiarize students with Wild Swans, read the scene descriptions and "Mao, Mu and More," all featured in the Toolkit. To continue the study of memoirs, have students submit a chapter or two from the titles on their table of contents page.

Name: __________________________________

MEMOIR BRAINSTORMING WORKSHEET The main idea of a memoir is to introduce the reader to an important aspect of your life. This should not be a single event in your life but a series of stories that will share with the reader, who you were, who you are now, and who you might become. Similar to how Jung Chang structured Wild Swans, the stories should all relate to a main theme, thesis, or idea that relates to a significant change that occurred in your life. As opposed to an autobiography, a memoir does not capture your entire life, but instead uses your main theme, thesis, or idea, to structure your narrative. Ideas to Get you Started! Events I remember Holidays

Memories from School Family

A time I was sad Vacations

Friends Summertime

1. What important events from your past would help readers understand who you are today?

2. What events from your present do you think will influence who you might become?

3. List these events (from questions 1 and 2) in chronological order. ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ 4. Choose the five most important events from the list that would lead to a cohesive and engaging narrative. 5. Treat each event as a chapter of your memoir and create innovative and exciting titles for each. Then use the titles to help you create a coherent order for your chapters. (Note: this is not always chronological. You may use a flashback, flashforward, or a future tense timeline.) 6. Think about your thesis statement. In other words, what is the takeaway that you want your reader to leave with? What would you like them to know about your life? Then create a meaningful title and subtitle that reflects your main idea. (i.e. My Struggle: Breaking through to the other side)

Title Subtitle


In this space, create artwork for your memoir

Table of Contents Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5




Mao Zedong (1893-1976) was a Chinese communist revolutionary and longtime Chairman of the People’s Republic of China. During his rule, he implemented sweeping and controversial changes on the country; he laid the foundation for China’s rise to superpower status in today’s world, but at the cost of many lives. Below is an article describing the legacy of one of Mao’s largest initiatives, the Cultural Revolution. This period of time provides the setting for the climax of Wild Swans. MAO’S SWAN SONG In the summer of 1966, a 72-year-old Mao Zedong – in conflict with other top leaders about how China and the Communist Party (CCP) should develop – 3

maneuvered to purify the Party ranks. His vehicle would be continuing revolution, a “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” that would protect China’s socialist future from internal threats and the self-serving policies of the Soviet leadership. As Mao publicly pointed fingers at “reactionaries,” the Party’s Central Committee fell into line, launching the Revolution by saying, “Although the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, it is still trying to use the old ideas, culture, customs, and habits of the exploiting classes to corrupt the masses, capture their minds, and endeavour to stage a comeback… Our objective is to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to

criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic “authorities” and…all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base…” To advance this utopian agenda, Mao tapped the revolutionary fervor of the young. Units of “Red Guards” sprang up in universities and secondary schools around China, caught up in revolutionary enthusiasm and ready to do his bidding in attacking elites, intellectuals, “counterrevolutionary” officials and whoever repressed the Chinese masses. Students’ anger toward authorities and educators for the restraints, sacrifices, and limited prospects that characterized their lives fuelled the rebellion. As the revolution spread to other disaffected sectors of society, Red Guards and workers split into factions that interpreted Mao’s statements differently and chose their targets according to local politics and personal resentments. Violence, which the rebels embraced as transformative, initially met with impunity and encouragement from the Party. Together Mao and his political supporters, the army, and the Gang of Four (including Mao’s wife Jiang Qing) purged the country of many political opponents. They whipped the people into an ideological state where political correctness dominated decision-making, and upended the Confucian world order and traditional religions.

million young people were rusticated for up to a decade. For the remainder of the revolution, no political or economic vision for China got the clear upper hand. Mao could not remake the Party to fit his vision of socialism, but the Party could not do without Mao. So while Mao succeeded in temporarily marginalizing key opponents like Deng Xiaoping, the pragmatists, professionals and elites remained stronger in the CCP overall. The Cultural Revolution finally drew to a close with the 1976 death of Mao and arrest of the Gang of Four. CONTESTED LEGACIES The Cultural Revolution sanctioned the destruction of “class enemies” and of Chinese culture on an epic scale. Millions of people – including many thousands of Party members – were tortured, imprisoned, or exiled to the countryside. Unknown numbers were killed or driven to suicide. In a reversal of filial norms, Red Guards attacked educators, intellectuals and their own parents. Students zealously destroyed thousands of historical and religious buildings and countless artifacts across China, while Party higher-ups defined art and literature as weapons of class struggle. As a horrified world listened to xenophobic sloganeering,

As law and order broke down across institutions, the CCP ultimately moved to reign in the chaos and terror. Beginning in 1969, it dispersed educated urban youths to the countryside to be “re-educated” through work alongside peasants and the study of Maoist thought. With classes and admissions at schools and universities suspended for long periods, some 16 4

China’s foreign relations deteriorated. To view the Cultural Revolution as sheerly destructive, however, is to dismiss the perspectives of many millions within China who benefitted from its changes. Alongside “scar literature” and memoirs like Wild Swans is testimony from former Red Guards thrilled with the new powers and freedoms they gained. For many, the revolution provided their first chance to travel and become politically active. Many peasants valued the expanded health care and educational services made possible by the new “barefoot” village doctors and urban youth who served as teachers. Workers made gains such as higher pay and greater political representation, though many such changes ended even before the revolution did. Millions of girls and women, especially in urban areas, benefitted from the expansion of roles opened to them as comrades building a new China. For all the sufferers who felt relief at Mao’s death, there were those incredulous that their idol could die. In the end, the Cultural Revolution prompted a steady shift away from Maoist policies and a welcoming of Deng and other reformers back to leadership roles. Nostalgia for Mao hasn’t disappeared, but since 1978 the party-state apparatus has set its course firmly in the direction of economic growth, ideological dampening, and re-engagement with the outside world. Old and new cultural ways now either co-exist or contend for adherents in a more modern fashion. MEMORY AND THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION Officially, the CCP has condemned the Cultural Revolution, laying blame for it squarely on Mao. Simultaneously, the government has taken steps to prevent discussion and academic exploration of the decade, keeping documents classified and limiting what the press can report. Many in power act as if the Cultural 5

Revolution were irrelevant, aberrant, or embarrassing: a more proper focus is what China has achieved since 1978. This approach largely denies the possibility of learning from these cataclysmic years. So works like Wild Swans are all the more important: they motivate us to care how individuals fare when ideology, fear, and youthful militancy dominate. They prompt us to explore critical questions about power, culture, and human psychology. And they allow us to connect past and present in China, for it was the backlash against the chaos of the Cultural Revolution that set the stage for both China’s dramatic economic gains and deep concern with political stability in the late twentieth century. All who seek to explain China’s rise – including increasing numbers of U.S. educators who now teach about the country – need to understand how in 1966 Mao took China down a diametrically different path.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. What is communism? 2. How would you feel living in an oppressive society such as Cultural Revolutionera China? 3. What were the positive effects, if any, of Mao’s reign? 4. How does sweeping change affect people? What are examples of a big change (i.e society, government or technology) that has occurred in your lifetime?


WRITING WILD SWANS The story of Wild Swans is the real life drama of Jung Chang’s family. In the introduction to her book, Chang recounts the incredible moment that led to her writing Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. I had always dreamed of being a writer. But when I was growing up in China, the idea of writing for publication seemed out of the question. In those years, the country was under Mao’s tyranny, and most writers suffered appallingly in endless political persecutions. Many were denounced, some sent to labor camps, and some driven to suicide. In 1966 through 1967, during Mao’s Great Purge misnamed the Cultural Revolution, the majority of books in people’s homes were burned. My father, who had been a Communist official but had fallen victim, was forced to burn his beloved collection, and this was one of the main things that drove him to insanity. Even writing for oneself was extremely dangerous. I had to tear up the first poem I ever wrote, which was on my sixteenth birthday on 25 March 1968, and flush it down the toilet because my father’s persecutors had come to raid our apartment.

But I had an urge to write, and kept on writing with an imaginary pen. In the next few years, I worked as a peasant and an electrician. While I was spreading manure in the paddy fields and checking power distribution at the top of electricity poles, I would polish long passages in my mind, or commit short poems to memory. I came to Britain in September 1978. Mao had died two years earlier, and China was beginning to emerge from the stifling isolation he had imposed on the country. For the first time since the founding of Communist China, scholarships for studying abroad were awarded on academic, not political, grounds. I was able to leave the country after taking these exams, and was perhaps the first person from the landlocked province of Sichuan, which then had a population of about 90 million, to study in the West since 1949. With incredible good fortune, at last I had the freedom to write, and to write what I wanted. […] But it was years before I wrote Wild Swans. Subconsciously, I resisted the idea of writing. I was unable to dig deep


into my memory. In the violent Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, my family suffered atrociously. Both my father and my grandmother died painful deaths. I did not want to relive my grandmother’s years of untreated illness, my father’s imprisonment, and my mother’s kneeling on broken glass. The few lines I produced were superficial and lifeless. I was not happy with them. Then, in 1988, my mother came to London to stay with me. This was her first trip abroad. I wanted her to enjoy herself thoroughly, and spent much time taking her out. After a short while, I noticed she was not having the time of her life. Something was on her mind; she was restless. One day, she declined a shopping trip, and settled at my black dining table on which a bouquet of golden daffodils shone. Cupping a mug of jasmine tea in her hands, she told me that what she most wanted to do was talk to me. My mother talked every day for months. For the first time in our lives, she told me about herself and about my grandmother. My grandmother, I learned, had been the concubine of a warlord general, and my mother had joined the Communist underground at the age of fifteen. Both of them had eventful lives in a China that was tossed about by wars, foreign invasions, revolutions, and then a totalitarian tyranny. In the general maelstrom they were involved in poignant romances. I learned about my mother’s ordeals, her close shaves with death, and her love for my father and emotional conflicts with him. I also came to know the agonizing details of my grandmother’s footbinding: how her feet had been crushed under a big stone when she was two to satisfy the standards of beauty of the day. Tourism became the backdrop of our conversations. As we traveled to the Isle of Skye in Scotland and Lake Lugano in 7

Switzerland, my mother would talk in planes and cars, on boats, during walks, and halfway through the night. When I was out working, she would stay at home and speak into a tape recorder. By the time she left Britain, she had done sixty hours of recordings. Here, outside the social and political confines of China, she was able to do something she had not been able to do all her life: open her mind and her heart. As I listened to my mother, I was overwhelmed by her longing to be understood by me. It also struck me that she would really love me to write. She seemed to know that writing was where my heart lay, and was encouraging me to fulfill my dreams. She did this not through making demands, which she never did, but by providing me with stories – and showing me how to face the past. Despite her having lived a life of suffering and torment, her stories were not unbearable or depressing. Underlying them was a fortitude that was all the time uplifting. It was my mother who finally inspired me to write Wild Swans, the stories of my grandmother, my mother, and myself through the turbulence of twentieth-century China. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. What is a memoir? 2. Why write a memoir? 3. Why do you think Jung Chang wrote Wild Swans? 4. What do you think the differences are between a memoir and an autobiography? 5. What are different ways that you could tell your story? If you could tell your story in any medium (i.e. film, music, dance, writing), which would you choose?


WHO'S WHO Yu-Fang De-Hong’s mother, who was the concubine of a warlord and lived in Northern China. De-Hong A young woman of the Communist Party, who worked hard for the cause, but she was condemned for her family background. Er-Hong Daughter of De-Hong and Shou-Yu. Shou-Yu De-Hong’s husband, also in the Communist Party. He strongly believed in the cause and, at times, prioritized it over his family. Ting A passionate, hard-working member of the Communist Party who condemned De-Hong due to her family background. Heng A member of the Communist Party at the “thought-examination” meeting, as well as at the movie. Zhen A musician in the Communist Party. Communists People who follow Mao’s teachings and beliefs. Bolin A farmer in a village. Huifen Wife of Bolin, also a farmer. Jin Ting-Quen A landlord in the village. Peasants The lower class people who have to work hard to have food to eat. Dr. Wan The doctor who treats De-Hong.


Party Members People in the Communist Party. Governor Lin An official in the Communist Party. Chi The team leader of the farming village. Photographer The photographer who takes the photos in the village. Niu Son of Bolin and Huifen from the village. Shu Er-Hong’s teacher. Cadre The person who hands out bowls of soup to the peasants in the village. Dai A leader of the Red Guards who searched the home of De-Hong and Shou-Yu. Red Guards People who declared themselves soldiers for Mao’s army.


HISTORY ON STAGE The play Wild Swans spans a period of 30 years. Read on to learn how the events in the play correspond to real life Chinese History

Prologue 1946 North China Event in China: Conflict between Nationalists and Communists intensified. American troops backed out of China. The Chinese Civil War ensued after the Japanese invasion. Event in the play: Yu-fang, the mother, fails in persuading her daughter, De-hong, to marry a Nationalist Officer Liu.

Event in the play: De-hong, along with other communist members visit a village where they advocate for communism and work with the farmers.

Act 1. sc 1 1949 Village in South China Event in China: The People’s Republic of China was formed, with Mao as the Chairman of the Communist Party.

Act 1. Sc 3 A large hospital ward Event in the play: Yu-Fang and Shou-yu visit De-hong in the hospital. Shou-yu disapproves of Yu-fang’s way of showing gratitude to Dr. Wan and her special

Act 1. Sc 2 Months later in 1949; Village in South China Event in the play: Shou-yu expresses to De-hong his desire to talk about love as the two work hard in the field.


treatment for her daughter by giving only De-hong and Dr. Wan bowls of food, instead of the whole ward. Act 2. Sc 1 Mid 1950’s A Party Office Event in China: The end of Mao’s First Five Year Plan for vast improvement on industrialization, agriculture, and political centralization. Event in the play: De-hong and Shou-yu are at a “thought-examinnation” meeting with other communist members. Ting proposes to put De-hong in detention for questioning due to her family background. Act 2. Sc 2 Autumn 1958 The village Event in China: The beginning of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, with faster economic and technical development. Event in the play: Governor Lin visits the village with Shou-yu, along with other members of the Communist party. The leader of the farming team demonstrates their success and promises to contribute 70% of the harvest to the state. Heng questions the possibility of such ambition. Act 2. Sc 3 1958 A nursery Event in the play: De-hong comes back from detention and goes to pick up her daughter Er-hong, who is with her father, Shou-yu, and Teacher Shu. Act 2. Sc 4 1960 The canteen in the village Event in China: The last year of the Great Leap Forward. Natural disasters struck many different regions in China and the reported amount of crops was an exaggeration, causing the production of crops to fail. Many people starved. Mao stepped down from his position as the chairman as the People’s Republic, but he 11

was still the chairman of the Communist Party. Event in the play: As Shou-yu helps the cadre hand out soup, he finds out about the food shortage and the people starving to death. Act 3. Sc 1 1961 The apartment Event in China: The government was trying to gain economic stability. The Communist Party was being influenced by a tide of moderate leadership. Event in the play: Shou-Yu writes a letter to the government at the risk of his family, while his wife, De-Hong, his mother-inlaw, Yu-fang, and his daughter, Er-hong, watch in vain. Act 3. Sc 2 Oct. 1966 The apartment Event in China: Mao regained power and began the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution by purging the party itself. Red Guards were formed by mostly young students from middle school to universities. They were encouraged to “bombard” different regions and headquarters with criticism and the Four Big Rights: speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates, and writing big-character posters. Event in the play: The red guards march into De-hong and Shou-yu’s apartment to purge him of “old habits” and ideas. Act 3. Sc 3 Mar. 1967 The apartment Event in China: The revolutionary committees had replaced the local administrative committees for local control. Event in the play: Ting, who had been promoted in the Party, comes to offer a pardon to Shou-yu, who refuses to write the apology poster. She suggests that Shou-yu should be divorced from his

family for the sake of their own future, but his family stands by his side. Act 4. Sc 1 1972 A work camp in the South China countryside Event in China: The beginning of the gradual end of the Era of Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution. Event in the play: Er-hong visits Shou-yu at his work camp. Shou-yu is disappointed that Er-hong is not able to take a basket of food into De-hong’s camp. Act 5. Sc 1 1976 The bus station Event in China: Three of the most senior officials in the Communist Party died this year, including Mao. The nation was in a state of political uncertainty.

Event in the play: Shou-yu and De-hong reunite in the crowd. Shou-yu asks for forgiveness from De-hong. Act 5. Sc 2 1977 A food stall Event in China: The end of the Cultural Revolution was officially declared. A new chairman of the Communist Party was elected with a new goal of building China into a powerful, modern socialist country by the end of the 20th century. Event in the play: De-hong and Er-hong ask Shou-yu to talk to the Director of the Scholarship Committee, but he ultimately refuses to do it. Er-Hong, determined to leave China, finds her own way to escape.



MAO, MU AND MORE Learn about these concepts, phrases and words that appear in Wild Swans.

The Gang of Four was led by Jiang Qing, the last wife of Mao, and three of her closest associates. They were prominent during the Cultural Revolution, then they were charged with crimes for leading the “counter-revolutionary forces” of the Cultural Revolution. Jin: a measurement of mass. It equals to 500 grams or a little more than one pound.   Mu: a measurement of area. It equals to about 7176 square feet.   Thought-examination meeting: a weekly meeting held by the members of the Communist Party, where people criticize themselves and bear the criticisms of others. Oftentimes, people’s private lives were the topics for examination.   Cadres: the upper class of China after 1949. It was believed that many of them unfairly manipulated the ration system, providing cadres with more food and wealth than others. They were also promised housing while everyone else was in stiff competition for living space.   “Running water is never stale, and a door hinge is never worm eaten” is a proverb. A direct translation of the same proverb


from the Quotations from Mao Tse-Tung: “Conscientious practice of selfcriticism is still another hallmark distinguishing our Party from all other political parties. As we say, dust will accumulate if a room is not cleaned regularly, our faces will get dirty if they are not washed regularly. Our comrades’ minds and our Party’s work may also collect dust, and also need sweeping and washing. The proverb “Running water is never stale and a door-hinge is never worm-eaten” means that constant motion prevents the inroads of germs and other organisms. To check up regularly on our work and in the process develop a democratic style of work, to fear neither criticism nor self-criticism, and to apply such good popular Chinese maxims as “Say all you know and say it without reserve”, “Blame not the speaker but be warned by his words” and “Correct mistakes if you have committed them and guard against them if you have not” - this is the only effective way to prevent all kinds of political dust and germs from contaminating the minds of our comrades and the body of our Party.” “On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 316-17.



The first part of Wild Swans takes place during one of Mao’s largest campaigns, the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961). This agricultural campaign encouraged the rural communities all over China to produce more food than ever, and give up much of that food to the state granaries and food banks. The pressure to produce massive amounts of food to fulfill government quotas ultimately led to a national famine, which claimed the lives of many Chinese.

that he would create heaven on earth… The nation’s poets, writers, journalists and scientists, and the entire Communist Party, joined him in proclaiming that Utopia is at hand. Out of China, the land of famine, he would make China, the land of abundance. The Chinese would have so much food they would not know what to do with it, and people would live a life of leisure, working only a few hours a day… In fact, [Mao] promised that within a year food production would double or treble.

To launch the Great Leap Forward, Mao whipped up a fever of expectation all over China that amounted to mass hysteria. Mao the infallible, the ‘great leader,’ the ‘brilliant Marxist,’ the outstanding thinker and genius, promised

In the belief that China was awash with food, everyone in the autumn of 1958 was encouraged to eat as much as they wanted, and for free. In Jiangsu province the slogan was “Eat as much as you can and exert your utmost in production.” 8

This generosity spelt death to many in China. Convinced that China had entered an era of unprecedented abundance, Mao rejected any thought of China limiting her population growth… So, from the start of the Great Leap Forward, the Chinese peasants were encouraged to have as many children as possible because, as Mao like to remind listeners, “with every stomach comes another pair of hands.” Within a generation, China’s population would double to 1.2 billion.

Usually the largest house in the village was turned into the kitchen were the food was cooked in large pots. A few places had communal dining halls but, more often than not, people squatted on the ground to eat their food. Only later on in the famine were they allowed to return to their huts to eat as families. In China, where there had never been enough food for all, people ate so much that by the winter of 1958-9, the granaries were bare….people trusted that they, like the city folk, would under Communism be provided for out of the state granaries. Yet Mao refused to accept that there was a shortage and, since he was convinced that the peasants were hiding their grain, he refused to open the state granaries. Even worse, over the three years from 1958 China doubled her grain exports and cut her imports of food…China delivered grain gratis to her friends in North Korea, North Vietnam and Albania.


"The famine of 1958-61 was unique in Chinese history. For the first time, every corner of this huge country experienced hunger."

From "Hungry Ghosts" written by Jasper Becker. Free Press, 1997.

…In Zengu village, peasants later told American anthropologists what it was like: “Everyone irresponsibly ate whether they were hungry or not, and in 20 days they had finished almost all the rice they had, rice which should have lasted six months.”



The Three Main Rules of Discipline are as follows: 1. Obey orders in all your actions. 2. Don’t take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses. 3. Turn in everything captured. The Eight Points for Attention are as follows: 1. Speak politely. 2. Pay fairly for what you buy. 3. Return everything you borrow. 4. Pay for anything you damage. 5. Don’t hit or swear at people. 6. Don’t damage crops. 7. Don’t take liberties with women. 8. Don’t ill-treat captives.

Above is a photograph of a page from a Red Guard Passbook listing the Three Main Rules of Discipline and below that the Eight Points for Attention.


Thank you for participating in the

A.R.T. Education Experience! For any questions on how to implement the information and activities in this Toolkit, or to schedule an A.R.T. teaching artist to visit your classroom and assist in administering the enclosed lesson, please email the A.R.T. Education and Community Programs department at: Wild Swans Educational Toolkit Supervising Editor Brendan Shea Designers Allison Nolan, Kristin Otharsson Contributors Jung Chang, Deborah Cunningham, Jasper Becker, Jiayi Li, Rebecca Fisher, Kristin Otharsson Check out the Wild Swans Community Memoir, an A.R.T. Community Connections project, at

Photo Credits Page 8, 10, 14, 16: images from a collection of 50 propaganda posters published in 1978 by the People’s Art Publisher, this selection of nine posters were created from 1968 to 1978. Original collection is housed at Harvard Fine Arts Library. Page 11 and 13: photographs of Jung Chang and her family, from Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China Page 9, 17, 18, 20: Photographs of Mao-era China from Corbis pictures Page 20: image of Red Guard passbook from Adam J. Schokora productions

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Wild Swans Toolkit  

This Educational Toolkit contains an arts-integrated lesson plan on memoir and family history, inspired by the theatrical adaptation of Jung...

Wild Swans Toolkit  

This Educational Toolkit contains an arts-integrated lesson plan on memoir and family history, inspired by the theatrical adaptation of Jung...