Tools of Characterization
We learn a lot about Brave Orchid's bravery when she volunteers to go into the haunted room at med school. She not only stays the night alone in there, but she also fights the ghosts and rallies a bunch of girls to join her. We also learn a lot by the fact that Kingston chooses to write her mom in this kind of way; she wants to see her mom as a courageous warrior woman. Perhaps most of all, we see that it's not necessarily the action that makes the person, but how that action gets interpreted. Kingston shows us this, for example, in the telling of the No Name Woman. Kingston interprets her nameless aunt's act of infanticide as an act of love. Of course, as you might imagine, not everyone might think the same thing about drowning a newborn. It's also through Kingston's action of cornering the quiet girl and bullying her to speak that we see how insecure Kingston is of how people perceive her quietness.
Thoughts and Opinions
Brave Orchid thinks that Kingston should keep her aunt's memory a secret. Kingston publishes her aunt's story in a book. Moon Orchid doesn't think it's a good idea to bother her husband. Brave Orchid insists that she does. By tracking the thoughts and opinions of Kingston's characters (well, her rendering of her relatives), we learn that Brave Orchid is a very persistent and tradition-based sort of lady. In contrast, we see how Kingston can be a sassy nag (like when she demands that the quiet girl talks in the bathroom). Of course, this also shows how Kingston is negotiating her stance on traditional customs and ways of thinking.