The Woman Warrior

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Throughout the book, The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston, the generation gap between the narrator and Brave Orchid is evident. The narrator feels that her mother’s culture values have no relevance in America. In the chapter, At the Western Palace, Brave Orchid sends for her sister, Moon Orchid, to come to America and urges Moon Orchid to confront her sister’s husband. The ideas that Brave Orchid has are bold and they conflict with Moon Orchid’s nature. Brave Orchid and Moon Orchid are two Chinese women who live in two different countries. They are separated by a cultural gap rather than a generation gap. This gap between Brave Orchid and Moon Orchid has created two inimical viewpoints on the value of physical appearance, necessity versus extravagance, and modesty in manner.

Physical appearance is very important in America’s society whereas women in Asia only dress-up on special occasions. Most of the time, Asia’s women are cooking, cleaning, and sewing, which is manual work. In America, when women go out in public, they try to look presentable, pleasing to the human eye. After Moon Orchid arrives, one of the first things that Brave Orchid does is point out that Moon Orchid is fat and looks very old. “You’re an old woman...your hair is white and your face wrinkled...you’re so fat.” In Asia, fat people are considered to be rich. Being fat is a sign of being rich because only rich people can afford to eat so much that it would make them fat. In America, obesity is often times something to be ashamed of. Americans seem to desire the body of a model. Brave Orchid also screams at her own children about their appearance but Moon Orchid always defends them. Brave Orchid is very concerned with physical appearance and how people view her and her family. When Moon Orchid’s daughter points out that her children can speak both Chinese and English, Brave Orchid immediately points out that...
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