She is wide-eyed and innocent at first, and becomes a street smart, twelve year old girl who wields belt buckles to ward off enemies. Nine year old Ling manages to blossom even as she suffers more horrors than many people face in a lifetime. The novel, "Revolution is not a Dinner Party", by Ying Chang Compestine, is written from the point of view of a young girl named Ling during the era of China's Cultural Revolution in China. Through her experiences, her personality changes. By witnessing the disintegration of her world, Ling, naive and carefree, matures and becomes a courageous, selfless young woman.
Ling's innocent nature is depicted at the start of the novel by her lack of understanding about the political and economic situation during the birth of China's Cultural Revolution. Ling plays games with who she believes is the "friendly" Comrade Li. She is very excited with her new house guest and trills, "[W]e started our buying and selling game. I gave him what he asked for, and he paid me with origami."(Compestine 28) Unknowing that Comrade Li is a political officer of Chairman Mao who planned to rid the country of intellectuals like her parents, she has no hard feelings against Comrade Li. Ling is unaware of her mother and father's fear and reluctance to house Comrade Li, and continues to be her usual carefree self. Not only is Ling oblivious to Comrade Li's true identity, she also does not understand the supply and food shortages China is suffering. Being given ration tickets makes obtaining necessary amounts of supplies very difficult in her country. Ignorant of the hard economic situation, Ling asks, "When are we going to buy cloth for my [new] outfit?" (71). This quote illustrates that Ling wants the luxury of having excessive items at her disposal, not understanding the importance of only giving up her family's ration tickets when absolutely needed.