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The Woman Warrior: A Tale Of Identity

2299 words - 9 pages

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston is a collection of memoirs, a blend of Kingston’s autobiography with Chinese folklore. The book is divided into five interconnected chapters: No Name Woman, White Tigers, Shaman, At the Western Palace, and A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe. In No Name Woman, three characters are present: Kingston, Kingston’s mother, and Kingston’s aunt. This section starts off with Kingston’s mother retelling the story of her aunt and her shameful past where her aunt took part in an adulterous relationship and expressed her sexuality openly, then Kingston’s interpretation of this story, and later what the story ultimately means to Kingston - the act of the family forgetting this aunt entirely. In White Tigers, it tells of the myth of Fa Mu Lan. It begins with Kingston recounting her mother’s story of Fa Mu Lan and her training where an elderly couple trains Fa Mu Lan into a warrior for fifteen years, then Fa Mu Lan’s role as a leading warrior and wife in which she replaces her father in battle and seeks revenge and lastly Kingston’s comparison to Fa Mu Lan’s life with hers.
In Shaman, Kingston recounts her mother’s story of when her mother was a student and doctor. It starts off with Kingston’s mother at the To Keung School of Midwifery, then her mother, Brave Orchid’s, return to her village, and finally Kingston’s mother telling Kingston of her life in America and how she tells Kingston that every person is a “ghost”. At the Western Palace, it tells of Kingston’s remembrances of her elderly mother and her mother’s sister, Lovely Orchid. It begins with Brave Orchid meeting her sister Lovely Orchid at the airport after not seeing each other for 30 years, then welcoming Lovely Orchid to Brave Orchid’s home and planning to reclaim Lovely Orchid’s husband after he emigrated to America and remarried 30 years prior, next a telling of an hesitant Lovely Orchid who does not have the skill to work or the courage to approach her husband, then a confrontation with her husband that does not end well, and lastly, Lovely Orchid institutionalized because her mental health declined. In the last section, A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe, it first starts with Kingston’s mother explaining why she cut the membrane under Kingston’s tongue and how Kingston struggle with school, next it tells of Kingston’s abuse of girl who refused to speak entirely, then Kingston’s confession of her confrontations and a list of what she is going to and not going to do, and lastly the narrative ends with the story of Ts'ai Yen.
However it is not just an autobiography introducing a reader into a clash of tradition versus modernism and myth versus reality, it presents a plot that tells of the female battle of finding herself in a misogynistic world. Kingston constructs her own new and unique identity as a daughter, as a woman, and as a Chinese-American in the New World. She uses fantasy and reality, with fantasy not as an...

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