Dichotomy In The Woman Warrior

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The Woman Warrior is a “memoir of a girlhood among ghosts” in which Maxine Hong Kingston recounts her experiences as a second generation immigrant. She tells the story of her childhood by intertwining Chinese talk-story and personal experience, filling in the gaps in her memory with assumptions. The Woman Warrior dismantles the archetype of the typical mother-daughter relationship by suggesting that diaspora redefines archetypes by combining conflicting societal norms. A mother’s typical role in a mother-daughter relationship is one of guidance and leadership. Parents are responsible for teaching a child right from wrong and good from evil. Because Brave Orchid has not assimilated to American culture, she can only teach her daughter Chinese…show more content…
Instead of accepting her mother’s perspective, Kingston merges reality with fantasy as she explores the possible personalities of her estranged relative. Instead of complying with the cultural belief that one must not bring dishonor to one's family, Kingston explores what would cause someone to “drown herself in the drinking water” (16). This strong language is a metaphor that suggests than women are destroyed by the very same thing that allows them to live. This dichotomy is presented in “White Tigers” as some talk-stories depict “swordswomen jump over houses from a standstill” (19) while others communicate that women must be demure. This inconsistent portrayal of gender roles depicts the narrator's struggle with identity. While Kingston is evidently affected by her mother’s talk-stories, she does not know what to believe. She struggles to find a sense of home as she has never been to China and America is filled with ghosts, the foreign and unknown. Brave Orchid faces a similar problem in which America is alien but China is far away and inaccessible. “Shaman” illustrates that hard work pays off in China but does not give way to progress in the United States, at least for Brave Orchid. While the Kingston’s mother was able to become a doctor
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