Woman Warrior

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A Warrior's Triumph

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston presents the story of a girl trapped between the cultures of her surrounding environment and that which her mother and family have forced upon her. Knowing only the Chinese way of life, this girl's mother attempts to familiarize her daughter, whom is also the narrator, with the history of their family. The mother shares this heritage through the use of stories in hopes the narrator will be prepared for her ultimate return to China, which is a life completely foreign to her own. Through these stories and the strong influence of the surrounding American culture, the narrator's life and imagination spin off in a new direction. She is confronted by many obstacles, which cause problems with not only her mother, but also with her attempt to discover her personal identity. Although the narrator's assimilation to the American culture causes numerous conflicts with her mother, she is able to overcome adversity and come of age as a Chinese-American with the help of her mother's stories.

In Kingston's first story, "No Name Woman," the reader is first introduced to the stories of the narrator's mother. This particular tale involves an aunt that the narrator never knew, who was shunned from her family for having an affair. It was through this story that the narrator learned how careful a young woman must be when growing up in the Chinese culture. Years after hearing of her aunt's misfortune, the narrator realizes that she has carried on this ostracism and is equally as guilty as the others who participated in this punishment of silence. However, the narrator feels an intense connection with the outcast of her family. "My aunt haunts me—her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her…" (16). Perhaps the narrator feels this bond because she herself feels completely alienated from the family and could never be fully connected to her Chinese heritage.

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