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)
"You're disgusting," I told her. "Look at you, snot streaming down your nose, and you won't say a word to stop it. You're such a nothing" (5.84).
In this encounter with the quiet girl from Chinese class, Kingston reveals her insecurity. She's afraid that silence amounts to a nonexistence, that she will become a forgotten being.
"What are you going to do for a living? Yeah, you're going to have to work because you can't be a housewife. Somebody has to marry you before you can be a housewife. And you, you are a plant. Do you know that? That's all you are if you don't talk. If you don't talk, you can't have a personality. You'll have no personality and no hair. You've got to let people know you have a personality and a brain. You think somebody is going to take care of you all your stupid life" (5.88).
Kingston repeats her mother's threats while bullying the quiet girl. We can tell that she is really talking out her own fears at the expense of the girl.
But when I saw Father's occupations I exclaimed, "Hey, he wasn't a farmer, he was a …" He had been a gambler. My throat cut off the word – silence in front of the most understanding teacher. There were secrets never to be said in front of the ghosts, immigration secrets whose telling could get us sent back to China (5.95).
Kingston suggests that a condition of living in the United States in an immigrant family is a silence made necessary by the law.