Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #7

I could not figure out what was my village. And it was important that I do something big and fine, or else my parents would sell me when we made our way back to China. In China there were solutions for what to do with little girls who ate up food and tantrums. You can't eat straight A's (2.146).

Kingston worries that she will never get the opportunity to unleash her inner warrior. Her fear here, however, does not seem to be for her own sense of pride but out of concern that her parents will find her unworthy if she does not prove heroic. On one level, she interprets the stories of Fa Mu Lan that her mother tells her as threats to show how she is lacking as a woman.

Quote #8

I refused to cook. When I had to wash dishes, I would crack one or two. "Bad girl," my mother yelled, and sometimes that made me gloat rather than cry. Isn't a bad girl almost a boy?

"What do you want to be when you grow up, little girl?"

"A lumberjack in Oregon" (2.163-165).

Kingston demonstrates that a part of her self-identity was in reaction to her mother's and society's expectations of her. But what does it mean to have an identity dependent on others' ideas?

Quote #9

It seemed to hurt her to tell me [that Chinese people often say the opposite] – another guilt for my list to tell my mother, I thought. And suddenly I got very confused and lonely because I was at that moment telling her my list, and in the telling, it grew. No higher listener. No listener but myself (5.179).

Kingston wishes to share herself with her mother, but realizes that she has so many complex thoughts that there is no other person who could know all her stories other than herself. She worries that stories can only do but so much to connect people.

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