The Woman Warrior
The Woman Warrior
by Maxine Hong Kingston
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The Woman Warrior Theme of Madness

Though madness is not as blatant a theme in The Woman Warrior as, say, women and femininity, Kingston seems to have a fascination with people who are considered mentally unstable. Significantly, these people are almost exclusively women (Moon Orchid most notably, or the dancing woman by the river). So what's going on with that? We bet that Kingston isn't saying that women are more likely to suffer from mental illnesses. Rather, Kingston seems to be reconsidering what it means to be insane. Isn't insanity just a term for thinking of reality in unconventional ways?

Questions About Madness

  1. List all of the "insane" people in this book. What patterns do you notice?
  2. How does Kingston define insanity?
  3. Who decides whether or not someone is insane?
  4. What is the stance on madness in this book? Does Kingston think it is a negative or positive thing?
  5. In a book about telling the truth through multiple versions of reality, why might madness be an interesting theme?

Chew on This

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

The "insane" ladies in The Woman Warrior are only deemed insane because they act differently than how others wish they would.

Kingston complicates the affect towards "crazy" by suggesting that "crazy" people often create happier realities for themselves.

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