The Woman Warrior
by Maxine Hong Kingston
The Woman Warrior Madness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Then Moon Orchid went about the house turning off the lights like during air raids. The house became gloomy; no air, no light. This was very tricky, the darkness a wide way for going as well as coming back (4.350).
Moon Orchid's erratic behavior in Brave Orchid's home was really a temporal conflation of the past with the present. Perhaps madness is really just operating on a jumbled up sense of time.
Brave Orchid saw that all variety had gone from her sister. She was indeed mad. "The difference between mad people and sane people," Brave Orchid explained to the children, "is that sane people have variety when they talk-story. Mad people have only one story that they talk over and over" (4.363).
Brave Orchid suggests that sanity is the ability to tell many varied and even contradictory stories. So by this standard, is Kingston sane?
"And, you know," she said to Brave Orchid, "we understand one another here. We speak the same language, the very same. They understand me, and I understand them." Sure enough, the women smiled back at her and reached out to touch her as she went by. She had a new story, and yet she slipped entirely away, not waking up one morning (4.366).
Kingston suggests that shared knowledge is the marker of sanity. That is, people who think in a different way or know different truths are seen as insane.