Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

I’ve been taking a multi-ethnic literature course this semester and it’s put me in contact with a lot of books I would have never read otherwise. I have never heard of the book Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts but I did enjoy it surprisingly. I say surprisingly because this isn’t your typical style book and I would call it post-modern because it really isn’t her memoir but rather the stories of women in her life who shaped who she was.

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I read an article for the class that described Kingston’s novel as a forgiving style in which daughters write the story from the perspective of the mother to forgive them. I found this to be intriguing because throughout the memoir you don’t really get from the author that her and her mother had a great relationship. Kingston’s parents were born and raised in China but Kingston was born and raised in America and throughout the book you see that clash of culture and I think Kingston was trying to explain that.

The first section of her book focuses on her unnamed aunt who committed suicide in China when it was discovered she was pregnant and it wasn’t her husband’s child. Kingston doesn’t know exactly what happened because the version she gives that her mother told her is dark and a warning not to get pregnant outside of marriage. Kingston theorizes throughout her narrative, but her main goal was to give her aunt a voice and then throughout the rest of the narrative she gives her mother a voice, her other aunt and herself.

This is not a traditional memoir and it raises a lot of interesting questions about what Kingston was trying to do. I watched an interview with Kingston in which she said she wanted to write a book for Chinese women and a book for Chinese men which is why she wrote China Men. She purposely split the two genders into two different books because she wanted one specific novel for each. I loved this book not only for it’s style but the language as well. Kingston writes in such a way that you can understand why her mother does the stuff she does and I do think Kingston is forgiving her mother.

-A

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