BOOKS/FILMS/AUTHORS--USEM4a--1998

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

The Woman Warrior is an autobiography that intricately weaves bits of Chinese folklore with personal experience, memories, and family stories. This combination produces a complex piece of literature that is at times confusing, but always interesting and rewarding for the reader.

The ghosts are obstacles that need to be overcome, inner fears and insecurities that hold characters back.

I remember reading the book reviews for The Woman Warrior during one of our class discussions. Almost all of them were entirely positive or negative. On the first few pages, the negative reviews were most prominent and they composed most of the reviews I actually read. I don't like to respond the way everyone else does to any stimuli, so I decided to like it before I even finished reading it.

My favorite [part] . . . was the scene between the two young girls (the main character and the girl who could not talk). I don't think that I have ever read a scene in a book where I was able to feel such emotion.

The happiness that . . . [the women warriors] have, as I see it, is not that great, comparably. Americans tend to take everything for granted.

Reading texts as piercing as Kingston's is necessary for those attempting to understand the many different cultures that contribute to our country, yet at the same time it is sometimes terrifying to scratch the surface of a culture so foreign to our own.

The author had to find herself and her place in a land filled with "ghosts." . . . Maxine has not shunned her past or forgotten about it but, instead, embraced it and made it part of her.

In American families today, it seems that the generation gap between parents and their children is decreasing. It is harder to balance the differences from other cultures, but hopefully both parents and children of first generation immigrants can make an effort to make sure that balance exists.

The earning of good grades in America is held in high esteem, although this does not compare to saving a village from disaster.

Maxine does not fit directly into both cultures, and if she tried to just fit in with Americans, she couldn't be with her family.

American society has taught us to be proud of all of our accomplishments. This book makes it seem as if Chinese culture is only proud of accomplishments that affect more than one person.

If the country she lived in matched the culture she was taught to follow, Maxine would have a lot fewer problems to deal with.

Culture is a big part of life for everyone, but children should be able to choose or make their own if they do not have the opportunity to live in the country where most of their parents' beliefs come from.

Brave Orchid was a Chinese woman living in the United States. She came from a background that was very superstitious. Unlike her sister, she knew how to be assertive. She advised her sister to go and talk to her husband instead of waiting for him forever. She told her sister that she had the right to be with her husband and her chilren. I feel that Brave Orchid could survive anywhere and with anybody. She didn't keep whining about the new country or the new traditions. She continued to put her children through school in the new country and do the best with what she had.

I wonder if it is more important to keep a promise or to follow the rules of society.

Preventing future evils seems to be a prevalent theme in this novel, as the second story, "White Tigers," explains [with] the travels of Fa Mu Lan, a girl who goes into the woods and emerges as a woman. As a woman, she is now expected to save both her village and her people.

The Woman Warrior tells the story of the generations of Chinese women that preceded [the protagonist] and the weight she felt as an American trying to emerge from their sometimes stifling presence. The subtitle of the book, "Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts," suggests the book's almost fantastic tone, but also refers specifically to the ghosts of Kingston's female relatives and the tragedy of many of their lives, lives lived in the extremely male-dominated society of China.

Essentially, every woman, even today, is a warrior. They are fighting against the repression that has been bestowed upon their gender since the dawn of time.