The Woman Warrior Essay

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This essay will look at Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. The Woman Warrior explores Kingston’s life as a young girl through a mixture of storytelling and reality. Kingston deals with five different narratives throughout the text. This allows the reader to grasp an understanding of her society and what the people in this society believe to be their norms. Her stories combine that of Chinese history, myths and spouts of reality. The narrator, Kingston, tries to come to terms with the pressures which the two surrounding, opposing societies impinge upon her through narrating oral stories. Storytelling and silence are both dominant and persistent themes throughout Kingston’s narratives. They display the oppression felt by females in the…show more content…
It is how she escapes from the limitations that the external world places upon her, ‘I couldn’t tell where the stories left off and the dreams began, her voice the voice of the heroines in my sleep’ (Kingston, 24). The narrator is never fully conscious of the real world surrounding her. Her first four narratives all talk of female characters in far off lands, but never Kingston herself. However, a change in her narration occurs in ‘A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe’. Kingston becomes aware of her own surroundings, escaping her oppression and speaks of her own story in the present time. She slowly begins to see things through her own perception. Figments of her imagination which had developed through her initial inability to separate reality from her mother’s talk stories disappear, ‘I can no longer see a girl in a skirt made of light, but a voiceless girl dancing when she thought no one was looking’ (Kingston, 244). Kingston finishes off her last narrative with a talk story of her own. Her title for this chapter is fitting as it relates back to a time when Ts'ai Yen ‘a female poet who triumphs in song’ (Morante, 78) as she translates her emotions to the barbarians through lyrics (Morante, 82). Kingston displays her realisation through this narrative as she has become Ts’ai Yen and it is her duty to translate that of the Chinese culture back to her
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