Impact of Chinese Heritage on Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior Essay

Impact of Chinese Heritage on Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior Essay

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Impact of Chinese Heritage on Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior


"Haunted by the power of images? I do feel that I go into madness and chaos. There's a journey of everything falling apart, even the meaning and the order that I can put on something by the writing." —Maxine Hong Kingston

It is true that some dream in color, and some dream in black and white. Some dream in Sonic sounds, and some dream in silence. In Maxine Hong Kingston's literary works, the readers enter a soundless dream that is painted entirely in the color of black—different shades and blocks of pigments mixing and clashing with each other, opening up infinite possibilities for both beautiful if frightening nightmares and impossible dreams.

An Asian-American writer growing up in a tight and traditional Chinese community in California, Kingston is placed by her background and time period to be at the unique nexus of an aged, stale social institution and a youthful, boisterous one. She has had to face life as an alien to the culture of the land she grew up in, as well as a last witness of some scattered and unspeakably tragic old ideals. She saw the sufferings and has suffered herself; but instead of living life demurely in the dark corner of the family room like she was expected to, Kingston became the first woman warrior to voice the plight of the mute females in both Chinese and American societies. The seemingly immeasurable and indeed unconquerable gap between the two fundamentally divided cultures comes together in herself and her largely autobiographical work The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts.

One of the most striking features about Kingston's writings in The Woman Warrior is her use of poignant imageries—ghosts, sil...


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..., the dreams, the need to escape from social reality—they were what her heart saw growing up in that little forsaken old Chinese village in California, and they alone hold any deep significance to her and her writings. With a blazing desire to free the oppressed female voices, Kingston started with her own.

Thus born The Woman Warrior, a chronicle of a Chinese American woman's personal sufferings and triumphs, of duplicities and truths, and of struggles and breakaways; a requiem for all the victims of the old culture whose soundless cries have not been heard and who died without a name, engulfed by the darkness and the silence. In her world then, at least, the failed heroine Fa Mu Lan is redeemed.

Works Cited

Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. New York: Random House, 1975. Vintage International Edition, April 1989.

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