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Themes

Language and communication is a big theme in The Woman Warrior. Kingston's stories are about the conflict between silence and the need to communicate ones thoughts and feelings to one's loved ones. Kingston writes about the frustration of being a Chinese American woman who was expected to be quiet. The author seems to use storytelling (see the theme "Literature and Writing") to break through the wall of silence that separated her from her loved ones as well as the rest of society.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Why does Kingston talk more in Chinese school than she does in her day-time school?
  2. Why is Kingston so upset with the quiet girl in the bathroom?
  3. What is Kingston's relationship with speaking? Which ways of communicating does Kingston offer other than talking?
  4. What role does the language difference between Cantonese and English play in this book?

Chew on This

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

Maxine Hong Kingston's encounter with the quiet girl in the bathroom shows the reader just how frustrated Kingston is with the stereotype of shy Chinese girls.

Brave Orchid teaches Kingston how to talk story, but she also does counter-intuitive things like cut her tongue. As such, Kingston's negotiation of her relationship with her mother is similar to her negotiation with how to communicate.

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