The Woman Warrior
by Maxine Hong Kingston
The Woman Warrior Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I liked the Negro students (Black Ghosts) best because they laughed the loudest and talked to me as if I were a daring talker too. One of the Negro girls had her mother coil braids over her ears Shanghai-style like mine; we were Shanghai twins except that she was covered with black like my paintings. Two Negro kids enrolled in Chinese school, and the teachers gave them Chinese names (5.33).
Kingston shows how language does not need to be a barrier between individuals of different races.
It was when I found out I had to talk that school became a misery, that the silence became a misery. I did not speak and felt bad each time that I did not speak. […] The other Chinese girls did not talk either, so I knew the silence had to do with being a Chinese girl (3.34).
Since Kingston does not feel bad about being silent until she is pressured to change, she suggests that there is nothing inherently wrong with silence.
I could not understand "I." The Chinese "I" has seven strokes, intricacies. How could the American "I," assuredly wearing a hat like the Chinese, have only three strokes, the middle so straight? Was it out of politeness that this writer left off strokes the way a Chinese has to write her own name small and crooked? No, it was not politeness; "I" is a capital and "you" is lower-case (5.35).
Kingston's application of cultural sensibilities proves uneasy when it's with two languages with different histories.