Roles Of Women In The Woman Warrior English Literature Essay
Throughout The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston resists the traditional roles of women, including growing up to become wife or slave, and expectations of what her family wants her to do. This is because she dislikes the feeling of being part of two different worlds, but not fitting to either one. Hence, Kingston is confused and lonely, so she tries to resist Chinese influences so that she could find her inner self, her identity, and her voice - the woman inside of her.
Kingston tells us that in Old China, women couldn’t choose, and they were to obey every rule that were put upon them (Kingston6). Kingston, however, ignores this and acts totally different than girls of those days. First of all, she knew that she wasn’t supposed to talk about the story of her unnamed aunt, because Kingston’s aunt had brought disgrace to their family and so she shouldn’t be mentioned ever again (Kingston 3). However, she does it at the beginning of the novel paying no attention to Brave Orchid’s words. The reason she resists this is because she doesn’t want to participate in her family’s punishment nor does she wants to forget her aunt (Kingston 16). Kingston is frustrated because her family is “deliberating forgetting her [aunt]” (Kingston 16). Her unnamed aunt certainly brought humiliation to their family’s name, but Kingston believes that her aunt should live in peace and not suffer in her afterlife. Thus, Kingston writes in her memoir partially to dedicate it to her aunt, who helped her find who she wants to become (Kingston 16).
Second of all, Kingston knew that Brave Orchid wanted daughters who kept their traditional ways and acted very politely and graceful (Kingston 8). Yet, in many times, Kingston would refuse to cook, would crack dishes, burn food, not feed people, behave in a clumsy way, and refuse to do household chores (Kingston 47). The reason behind these actions is that she believes these bad manners of her would make her almost a boy (Kingston 47). Kingston, however, fails to please Brave Orchid, so at the end of Shaman, Kingston reveals that she left the house and refuses to go back and live the life she never got used to. It will always be hard for Kingston to satisfy her mother’s expectations since both have different standards. Hence, this is where Kingston demonstrates that girls don’t need to be wife of slave, and prove to her mother that she can make a living and take care of herself because she can live independently (Kingston 19,101).
In A Song for a Barbarian Pipe, Kingston was finally tired of Brave Orchid’s complaints thus she confronted her (Kingston 201). Kingston said that she had a list over two hundred things that had grown inside of her, but which she had never had the courage to tell her mother (Kingston197). But after she raged in fury, she screams at her mother “the hardest ten or twelve things on [her] list, one of them being that it doesn’t matter what her family forces her to do, she’ll never marry the rich, weird fat boy who always followed her around (Kingston 201-201). It was then that Kingston’s words hurt Brave Orchid, so her mother fights back and tells Kingston to leave. In the end, she left home because she couldn’t resist the pressure in her (Kingston 204).
Subsequently, throughout Kingston’s life, she experiences difficulties growing up in America given that Brave Orchid wasn’t helping Kingston through her growing process. So as she grew, she didn’t have a close mother to daughter relationship. Therefore, Kingston decided to break away from her mother’s influences. So by leaving her house, Kingston is freed to find an identity of her own. The Woman Warrior is a novel where Kingston would help people giving them a voice and finding one herself, too. She would talk about identities and searching for their voices through the talk-story Brave Orchid tells her since young. In No Name Woman, Kingston’s aunt was considered a nameless woman, so she gave her aunt her own voice. In the White Tigers, Kingston relates herself with Fa Mu Lan’s story. At the Western Palace, Moon Orchid, Brave Orchid’s sister, didn’t have the courage to confront her husband; hence, Kingston puts her voice back in Moon Orchid’s life. In A Song for a Barbarian Pipe, Kingston relates it as her search for finding her personal voice. Finally, Kingston finds her own voice through talking about her past.
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