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The Woman Warrior

The Woman Warrior


by Maxine Hong Kingston

The Woman Warrior Theme of Family

Kingston writes almost exclusively of her family in The Woman Warrior. She focuses most of all on her mother Brave Orchid, from whom she learned the tradition of talk story. Kingston spends most of her time analyzing the dynamic between female roles in the family: mother/daughter, aunt/niece, etc. The author offers thoughts on what it means to be a part of a family and what kinds of stories and debts are passed down from one generation to another.

Questions About Family

  1. Kingston writes more about her mother's generation than her own. What is the effect of this?
  2. Kingston's memoirs are largely her mother's life stories; what does this suggest about the role of her mother and of family in Kingston's sense of identity?
  3. What role does gender play within the family stories Kingston tells? How are her male relatives portrayed in her stories?
  4. What is our (the reader's) relationship with Kingston's family?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Kingston shows that family is more significant than romance through the love Brave Orchid demonstrates for Moon Orchid versus the embarrassment the doctor-husband shows toward Moon Orchid.

Kingston's main frustration in The Woman Warrior is her inability to communicate with her mother on her terms. The book, as a composite of talk story, is written as an attempt to bridge her mom's stories with her own.

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