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The Warrior Woman Essay

1223 words - 5 pages

Mental illness is attributed to people who are not in touch with reality or the world around them, where in contrast, strong minded women are thought to be courageous in their stance to stand firm and follow their beliefs. The chapter in Mary Kingston’s novel, The Warrior Woman, contains a chapter named “The Western Palace”, which depicts a character that can be described as possessing either characteristic. Brave Orchid takes a stance that results in terrible consequences for her younger sister, yet only one of them is termed mentally unstable, the other customarily traditional. The parallels between a mental illness diagnosis and a faithful adherence to ones traditions are often the psychological desire to do whatever turns out to be the right thing in any given situation, or good verses evil.
In the beginning of the chapter, the character Brave Orchid is introduced to the reader as a patient sister arriving at the airport terminal nine hours in advance of Moon Orchids arrival. Considered as too early by most people, she acts upon a belief that her will power to add to “the forces that keep an airplane up” (Kingston 113) will ensure the safe arrival of her sister. Her American born children, impatient with the wait, are considered “bad” (Kingston 114) for failing to follow her in choice of dining or passing of the time. Again, thinking of her son at war in the sea, she uses ancient Chinese traditions to keep the “plane and ship under her control” (Kingston 115). The psychological belief that a person can control the safety of an airplane or war ship with their mind may often be constituted as a desire to good, a positive action by the strong-willed person. However, even if the motivation of the person may be for a positive result, the dilemma is born on whether or not the objects evidently targeted by Brave Orchid are really controlled by pilots, or her internal moral beliefs, both of which are understood to be natural occurrences. Therefore, since her mental state of mind was a psychological desire to do good and safely control the crafts, she is considered a strong willed person, not mentally ill.
In time, Moon Orchid had arrived and safely settled into Brave Orchid’s home with her new found family. Moon Orchid is ready to hand out presents right away, but it is Brave Orchid who solely performs the “luck ceremony” (Kingston 119), and feels all the luggage should be put away quickly. Mentally unstable people often find that routines help to eliminate some confusion in their natural order of things. With the luggage spread about the living room there could have been internalized feelings of anxiety and distress felt by Brave Orchid, thus bordering on some form of mental illness. By the same token however, her mumbling at the front and back doors were considered a traditional custom that even her children eventually stopped inquiring about. It was a natural phenomenon for their mother to be protective over the household. These actions...

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