Woman Warrior Essay

2084 words - 8 pages

The Art of Combining Cultures The story Woman Warrior tells of the blending and development of two different cultures into one. This story is Maxine Hong Kingston's memoir, written in 1975. The story tells of the hardships and difficulties that immigrants experience when they move to a new country. Woman Warrior portrays the life of Maxine Hong Kingston, a second-generation Chinese-American girl. She realizes that she must intertwine Chinese language, culture, and family traditions with American standards. Kingston struggles most of her life trying to balance a Chinese life at home while going to an American school. She deals with being a soft-spoken woman trying to fight racism and oppression. She is striving to combine the two cultures without abandoning all the traditions. Kingston goes back and forth from the past to the present to show the importance of her past heritage being combined with her present life. In the Chinese culture, women are viewed as inferior. Kingston is reminded time after time that, as a girl, she will "grow up a wife and a slave." She often tries to prove her worth by doing something great, like making good grades in school. Kingston learns most of her Chinese lessons through talk-stories told by her mother and other members of the family. She can identify with most of the talk-stories that she hears. She is warned in the beginning of the stories to keep quiet about them. The stories are told in a fashion that once it is finished, there are no questions asking for more information. This is important, because as she is trying to establish some ties between the two cultures, she must truly understand the reason for the story. Most of the stories tell of one lesson and give no reason for most of the actions taking place. One story that she can relate to is the story of the no name aunt. She can identify with the story because the character in the story is also a female ancestor who broke the rules of tradition. Kingston, a Chinese-American, finds her own Chinese heritage very confusing. Her mother is the one who tells her of the glorious woman warriors and of their strong and useful place in the Chinese culture. But it is also her mother that reminds her that women in the Chinese culture are inferior and worthless. Her mother warns her to obey all the rules of traditional China, or she will end up with the same fate as the no name aunt. Ironically, they have been breaking the rules all along by being Chinese in America. Chinese people are very superstitious. They believe in ghosts and many other bringers of good and evil. Ghosts are mentioned numerous times throughout Woman Warrior. Ghosts are acknowledged as the spirits of dead people and characters in talk-stories and folklore tales. People who are not Chinese are also seen as ghosts, that's why her mother, Brave Orchid states, "America is full of machines and ghosts--Taxi Ghosts, Bus Ghosts, Police Ghosts, Fire Ghosts, Meter Reader Ghosts,...

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