Kingston’s Women Warrior gives voices and identities to Chinese and Chinese American women.
Growing up with a family of five sisters and myself as first generation Korean Americans, The Women Warrior focuses on the author’s life were she struggles to find her voice. Maxine Hong Kingston’s writing of this book is an example of how ancient talk stories, myths, and beliefs help one find her voice in America. The Women Warrior takes us on an adventure through five main female characters and five chapters that helps us understand how she finds her voice in America. The five chapters integrate Kingston’s experiences through the five women brought to life throughout the book. The references in the book refer to Kingston’s emotional struggle while showing the reader the benefit of finding ones personal voice in America. The book shows how the five women in this book along with the talk stories help in the search for individual identities. Through Kingston’s writing of this book the chapters help show how she manages to give her aunt an identity, Chinese women an identity, her mother a voice, and finds her own identity and voice in America.
If women do not have voices in traditional Chinese culture, then the talk stories that mothers pass on to there daughters may be considered subversive tales and instructions for their daughters. In the first chapter of The Women Warrior, Kingston’s mother Brave Orchid tells the story of her sister and the relevance of the no name women. This talk story was told by Kingston’s mother in order to teach her daughter of proper women behavior. The fact that the story starts with her mother saying not to repeat the story makes this book a way of bringing Kinston’s aunt to life. The story was based back in the village in China where it is believed that she brought disgrace to her whole family by having an illegitimate child. “You must not tell anyone, my mother said, what I am about to tell you” (Kingston 3). This is how the book starts and the story of Kingston’s mother’s sister who killed herself with her newborn daughter. The no name women had become pregnant while her husband was off to war. The thought of what China was like painted a confusing picture for Kingston. She knew that the village that her aunt had killed herself by throwing her and her daughter in the village water well shows very little error for family values. It is here were the reader can come to know that the struggle of her aunt is the struggle she herself is going through while trying to make sense of all the tradition of China while living in America. The point of Brave Orchid to tell Kingston the story of her husband’s sister is to warn her to be careful and cautious. “Now that you started to menstruate, what happened to her could happen to you. Do not humiliate us. You wouldn’t like to be forgotten as if you had never been born” (Kingston 5). The story truly begins through this talk tale. Kingston is not allowed to mention the story of her aunt she has to create her own fantasies to complete the story. Kingston feels that the story makes more sense to her as if her aunt was rapped by a villager that ordered her to be with him. She also feels that her aunt may have stepped out of the normal social order and her sexual passion could have been incest and the whole town turned there backs and even her own family turned there backs. The birth took place in a pigsty and since the aunt already knew her fate she walked her daughter to the well and they drowned themselves. The whole idea that it was a daughter or a girl makes the story more interesting because the customs in China may have already named the girl useless and immoral. This chapter is often one of the more frequent anthologized sections of the book. The talk story of her aunt opens the door for more stories to follow. The place of women in Chinese society comes to question while the thought of...
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