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 cut it so that you would not be tongue-tied. Your tongue would be able to move in any language. You'll be able to speak languages that are completely different from one another. You'll be able to pronounce anything. Your frenum looked too tight to do those things, so I cut it" (5.20).
Brave Orchid's act of violence on Kingston's tongue speaks to her willingness to hurt something on the chance that it will improve it in the long run.
When I went to kindergarten and had to speak English for the first time, I became silent. A dumbness – a shame – still cracks my voice in two, even when I want to say "hello" casually, or ask an easy question in front of the check-out counter, or ask directions of a bus driver (5.30).
This excerpt about Kingston's timidity to speak English is compelling especially since The Woman Warrior is written in English. Perhaps her memoirs are a supplement to the time she spent in silence.
My silence was thickest – total – during the three years that I covered my school paintings with black paint. I painted layers of black over houses and flowers and suns, and when I drew on the blackboard, I put a layer of chalk on top. I was making a stage curtain, and it was the moment before the curtain parted or rose (5.31).
Kingston shows how silence is like the black paint that belies the drawings underneath. Just because nothing is spoken yet doesn't mean the ideas aren't there.