Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior Essay

Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior Essay

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Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior


     Food strengthens us, without it we are weak. Eating has always been an important factor with families living in poor conditions. Often, those who could not help to produce more food are considered inferior or unworthy to eat. Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior is no exception, due to the relation it creates between eating and the strength of people. This is shown through the tale of Fa-Mu-Lan, the story of the eaters, and the references to the fellow relatives left in China.

     In the tale of Fa-Mu-Lan, the narrator is given a survival test, where she has to survive a mountain trek without provisions. During that trek, the narrator finds herself weary from hunger. Hunger brings out her animal instincts, because she needs to stay strong to live. 'On the fourth and fifth days, my eyesight sharp with hunger, I saw deer and used their trails when our ways coincided. Where deer nibbled, I gathered the fungus, the fungus of immortality'; (25). The narrator is forced to search for her food to eat. The hungrier she becomes, the more feral she is. Meat also played a role in the connection between food and strength. During the beginning of her story she claimed she no longer needed meat. After she became starving, she breaks down and eats meat. '…I saw the rabbit had sacrificed itself for me. It had made me a gift of meat'; (26). Her will was eroded by the hunger because as her hunger increased, she became weaker and her resolve was easier to destroy. When the narrator was not starving she was in control of her faculties. Hunger however, strips her even of vision, as she imagines things that do not exist. The narrator says, 'Hunger also changes the world when eating can't be habit, then neither can seeing. I saw two people made of gold dancing the earth's axis'; (27). Viewing two gold dancers would be wonderful to witness, however the chances are very slim. The hunger had weakened her to the point of confusion, and possibly dilution. Just as hunger weakens a person so they cannot command themselves, eating will make a person powerful and the masters of others.

     The stories of the heroes who ate heaping amounts of food illustrate that those who can eat have extraordinary powers. The narrator says before, that her mother is powerful';…because she can eat anything – quick, pluck out the carp's eyes, one for...


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..., yet Kingston continues to reference the topic throughout the book. In the chapter At the Western Place, Brave Orchid meets her sister Moon Orchid at the airport.
''…you're so skinny.'
'You're so fat.'
'Fat women are more beautiful than skinny women''; (118).
Brave Orchid's bitterness toward American culture influenced the narrator. Fat carried not only excess lipids, it carried wealth and power in Brave Orchid's opinion. Women were more beautiful with fat because wealth enabled them to achieve their 'beauty';. The incessant use of references between strength and eating throughout the book show the narrator was influenced is some manner. The product of the influence may not have been a fat woman, but a woman educated in two cultures.

Eating is vitally important in the memoir The Woman Warrior. It is regarded as a sign of strength in the book. That point is shown through Fa-Mu-Lan, the story of heroes, and through relatives in China. With those, Kingston became educated in two differing cultures, possibly influenced by both. The connection between hunger and strength is well known throughout the ages, as the old military adage states, 'An Army marches on its stomach.';

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