Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some thoughts on Maxine Hong Kingston's "A Woman Warrior"

Maxine Hong Kingston's "A Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts" was first published in 1976. It merges real details of her life with fantastical elements which Kingston draws from memory and imagination. In its six sections, it combines myth and personal experience to form a collection that starkly portrays the experience of growing up within two conflicting cultures. Each section deals with a separate memory--the story of the narrator's anonymous aunt, the narrator's vision of herself a as a female warrior akin to characters in the stories she has heard in her childhood, her mother Brave Orchid's education as a doctor in China, her aunt Moon Orchid's unsuccessful attempts to unite with her husband in America and finally, the narrator's own experience, particularly in school.

Kingston attempts to express the Chinese American language by rendering the rhythms and cadences of the Chinese 'talk-story' in English. It is almost as if she finds the conventional genres inadequate to present her perspective. Thus, she combines myth with memoir to shape her narrative.

Add "The Woman Warrior" to your queue and read this splendid novel about racial and cultural identity.

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