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The Woman Warrior

The Woman Warrior


by Maxine Hong Kingston

Brave Orchid Timeline and Summary

  • Kingston's mom (Brave Orchid) tells her daughter the story about the no name aunt. She figures it is time to tell Kingston since she started menstruating and could potentially do the same kind of damage to the family reputation by getting pregnant. Brave Orchid tells Kingston never to speak of this aunt.
  • Kingston's mom tells a young Kingston stories about Fa Mu Lan and the lady who invented white crane boxing.
  • Brave Orchid is unimpressed with her daughter's 4.0 GPA, referencing warriors like Fa Mu Lan and their achievements.
  • Brave Orchid and her husband are not sure how much money to give to relatives living in Communist China.
  • We learn that Brave Orchid kept her children locked inside to protect them from the dangerous streets.
  • We learn that Brave Orchid went to Hackett Medical College in Canton to get her midwifery degree.
  • We learn that Brave Orchid had two children before moving to America. These two children did not live.
  • Brave Orchid is much older than her fellow med school classmates. She pretends she's ten years older than them, not the real twenty-year difference.
  • She would sneak off to study, which made her top grades look like natural gifts rather than hard work.
  • Brave Orchid is good at naming and dealing with ghosts. Kingston imagines that her mom studied in the haunted room in the dormitory.
  • One night, after telling her classmates that she was going to spend the night in the haunted room, she finds a Sitting Ghost on her chest. She threatens the Sitting Ghost when pinching and fighting it doesn't work. She starts chanting lessons for class until she falls asleep.
  • It's only here that we learn Brave Orchid's name in the book.
  • Brave Orchid regales classmates with the tale of her ghost encounter. She gathers a bunch of them to smoke out the ghost.
  • After two years, Brave Orchid returns home with her degree in midwifery. She is revered in the village.
  • Brave Orchid goes shopping for a slave to be her nurse and a white puppy to be her bodyguard.
  • In America, Brave Orchid and her husband run a laundry.
  • We learn Brave Orchid is a hardcore eater.
  • Brave Orchid lived in the caves during part of China's war with Japan. She created a hospital there and treated refugees.
  • Brave Orchid arrives in New York in January of 1940. She gives birth to Kingston a couple of years after.
  • Years later, while Kingston visits her mom, Brave Orchid watches her while she sleeps. She accuses her of taking LSD, but we can tell she just misses having her daughter nearby.
  • Brave Orchid says she could die any day, that her documentation has her age wrong, and that she never had children in China. She expresses regret at leaving China for America, which has aged her. But now there is no more home in China to go back to.
  • When she is 68, Brave Orchid welcomes her younger sister, Moon Orchid, from the San Francisco International Airport. She waits at the airport for nine hours. She's prepared bags of food and camps out.
  • She can hardly recognize the old lady that turns out to be Moon Orchid.
  • Brave Orchid badgers her sister to confront the husband who abandoned her in China.
  • She insists that they go to his home, which turns out to be his medical practice. Brave Orchid goes upstairs to scope out the situation. She meets his receptionist who turns out to be his second wife. She goes back to the car and offers to pretty up Moon Orchid so she has a chance with her husband.
  • Brave Orchid is outraged that her brother-in-law isn't thrilled to see his first wife. She insists that he take them out to lunch at least.
  • Brave Orchid worries when her sister stops writing her letters. She sends for her to live with her family in San Francisco, but even Brave Orchid realizes that something has shifted for Moon Orchid.
  • Brave Orchid asks her kids to promise that they'll never let their father take a second wife.
  • Brave Orchid puts in newspapers ads to find their younger daughter (not Kingston) a husband.
  • Brave Orchid and Kingston find a bunch of porn in "the monster's" carton.
  • Brave Orchid asks Kingston not to ramble on about pointless stuff.