The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

1199 Words5 Pages
In the novel The Woman Warrior Maxine Hong Kingston uses ghosts to represent a battle between American and Chinese cultures. The two cultures have different views of what a ghost is. The Chinese believe the ghost spirits may be of people dead or alive. Chinese culture recognizes foreigners and unfamiliar people as ghosts because, like American ghosts, they are mysterious creatures of the unknown. Americans view ghosts as spirits of the dead that either help or haunt people. American ghosts may or may not be real. There spirits are there but physical appearance is a mystery. Chinese culture has many interpretations ghosts. One way they are seen as is people who have disgraced their family or country. An example of this in the novel is Maxine's aunt. She is considered a ghost because she disgraced her family by having a baby outside of marriage. They call her "Ghost! Dead ghost! Ghost! You have never been born." (Kinston 14) She drowns herself in the well to become one of the most feared ghost, the Shui Gui or watery ghost. These ghosts are said to be waiting for their victims, to pull them into the water to take the drowned ones place. In the novel another example of what the Chinese consider ghosts are American people. Sometimes they feel haunted by this unfamiliar culture, just as a ghost would haunt. "But America has been full of machines and ghosts- Taxi Ghosts, Bus Ghosts, Police Ghosts, Fire Ghosts, Meter Reader Ghosts, Tree Trimming Ghosts, Five-and-Dime Ghosts." (Kong 96) These examples are American people of any ethnicity. They are called ghosts because the Chinese are not familiar with the culture. Another example of the unfamiliarity is when, "Her husband looked like one of the ghosts passing the car wind... ... middle of paper ... ...hinese. The Chinese see ghosts as haunting spirits, either dead or alive. The live ghosts in Chinese culture represents all of the odd and uncomfortable people who are unusual or have been disrespectful. Americans perceive ghosts as the haunting spirits of the dead. Americans also believe there are good ghosts' spirits of people who come to help or protect. Both cultures question the real definition of ghost. To each culture it has a new meaning. The ghosts represent the cultural divide of Chinese and Americans. Work Cited Chang, Lee Samantha. Hunger. Chin, Marilyn. Moon and Outgrass. Ghost Theory, The Utah Ghost Organization, History Mystery, Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior. New York; Random House Inc., 1989. Merriam-Webster Dictionary,
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