The Woman Warrior: A Tale of Identity

1972 Words8 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…show more content…
She strived for academic success, refused to cook and made herself clumsy and distasteful (Kingston, 47). When questioned for her behavior, she responded by comparing how a “bad girl” is almost similar to a boy. Yet her resistance was proven difficult because not only did she have to manage the repressiveness of her Chinese heritage but also manage the different and contradicting repressiveness of American femininity. To reject herself as female implies self-hatred especially in the last sections of her autobiography. In an American public school, Kingston was silent, unsure of her voice and wary of the embarrassment that would be caused if she would participate. Later she tries to differentiate herself from another Chinese-American girl who did not speak at all, psychologically and physically abusing her to express her abhorrence of the Chinese female identity. Kingston makes an effort to disassociate herself from this girl who shares similar behavior of the inability to incorporate herself into American life by despising the Chinese female characteristics that the girl had: her neatness, her wearing of pastel colors, and her soft nature (Kingston, 176). This abuse stopped when Kingston was afflicted by a “mysterious illness” that drove her into long social isolation and contemplation (Kingston, 182). Her recovery brought upon a different
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