The Woman Warrior
by Maxine Hong Kingston
The Woman Warrior Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The swordswoman and I are not so dissimilar. May my people understand the resemblance soon so that I can return to them. What we have in common are the words at our backs. The idioms for revenge are "report a crime" and "report to five families." The reporting is the vengeance – not the beheading, not the gutting, but the words. And I have so many words – "chink" words and "gook" words too – that they do not fit on my skin (2.189).
Kingston describes writing as a form of combat, as a potential act of heroism.
To make my waking life American-normal, I turn on the lights before anything untoward makes an appearance. I push the deformed into my dreams, which are in Chinese, the language of impossible stories. Before we can leave our parents, they stuff our heads like the suitcases which they jam-pack with homemade underwear (3.138).
Kingston shows how language shifts one's way of thinking and believing. Knowing more than one language only complicates any idea of reality.
"Why didn't you write to tell her once and for all you weren't coming back and you weren't sending for her?" Brave Orchid asked.
"I don't know," he said. "It's as if I had turned into a different person. The new life around me was so complete; it pulled me away. You became people in a book I had read a long time ago" (4.323-324).
Moon Orchid's husband treats his old life with Moon Orchid as an old book, suggesting that he has created a new life for himself, a new story.