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The Woman Warrior

The Woman Warrior


by Maxine Hong Kingston

Narrator (Maxine Hong Kingston) Timeline and Summary

  • Kingston tells the story of the night of her nameless aunt's suicide.
  • Kingston imagines a humanity for her aunt that would not cast her as strictly the victim. Maybe the dad preferred her since she was the only daughter, maybe she liked little things about her baby's father.
  • She is ashamed for having participated in her aunt's punishment. She swears to break it by writing these words for her, though it's unclear what her aunt the ghost would react best to.
  • Kingston reflects on how confusing it is to know which stories to find oneself in.
  • Kingston writes herself into a woman warrior story, where she leaves the home to train in the mountains at age seven.
  • Ate age fourteen, the elderly couple leaves her in the mountains for the tiger challenge. She is resourceful with food and water and has become vegetarian.
  • Kingston begins to see a different truth in things, like a type of dancing.
  • Kingston trains for the dragon test.
  • She receives the fifteen beads from the elderly couple and waves at them from distances.
  • Kingston returns to the village and takes her father's place in the army. Her back is marked up by her parents for protection.
  • Kingston rocks at being a warrior. Remember, she is dressed as a man because women aren't allowed in the Chinese army.
  • Kingston can tell that her family has married her spirit to a childhood friend. He joins her army.
  • Kingston becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son. She sends her son and husband home for safety.
  • Kingston and her soldiers overthrow the emperor and put a peasant in his place.
  • Kingston goes home and fights the sexist baron. She cuts his head off.
  • She frees a locked room of women with bound feet.
  • She goes to her husband and son. She tells her in-laws that she is ready to be an obedient daughter, wife, and mom.
  • Kingston goes to a conversation with her mom. She's proud she got straight A's, but her mom says it's nothing compared to Fa Mu Lan's achievements.
  • Kingston voices her confusion over how to be, how to answer the call when you hear it. She muses that maybe fights aren't the answer, either.
  • Kingston reflects that she is not so different from her Fa Mu Lan self: they both have words etched upon their backs as a responsibility, as power.
  • Kingston writes of a metal tube, which holds her mom's medical degrees.
  • Kingston reflects on what her mom would have been like in younger years. She writes about her mom's bravery in fighting dormitory ghosts.
  • Kingston's kind of jealous of the nurse-slave that her mom buys.
  • Kingston hates hearing her mom's favorite story about eating monkey's brains.
  • Kingston tells the story about the lady who got stoned right before her mom immigrated to America.
  • We learn that Kingston was born in the middle of World War II. She's terrified of flying machines.
  • Kingston writes of one of her visits to her mom's house. She wakes in the middle of the night to see her mom staring at her. Her mom complains that America has made her old. Kingston is kind of unnerved and annoyed until her mom calls her "little dog." The tem is apparently endearing and makes Kingston feel at ease.
  • In Chapter 4, Kingston is the author but no longer the narrator.
  • Kingston tells us that she only knows about the stuff that happened in Chapter 4 from a brief conversation with her brother.
  • Brave Orchid tells Kingston that she had Kingston's tongue cut when she was younger so she could talk more easily. Kingston thinks of what an impediment it is because, she still doesn't have an easy time talking.
  • Kingston recounts some memories of her trouble with speaking up (like going to the drugstore and demanding free candy, as per her mom's request).
  • Kingston is irked by the quiet girl in her Chinese class. She bullies her in the bathroom until they both cry.
  • Kingston's bedridden with a mysterious disease for eighteen months.
  • Kingston describes some strange ladies she knew growing up who pretty much all end up in an insane asylum. She's worried because she is both crazy and a girl, so her family might sell her.
  • Kingston is ardently against marriage, convinced it's another way for families to get rid of unwanted girls.
  • Kingston is annoyed by the mentally disabled who follows her around. She finds a bunch of porn in the carton he sits on outside the laundry.
  • Kingston has a list of two hundred plus things to tell her mom about herself. Her mom doesn't want to hear them. She pours a lot of them out one night in a tirade.
  • Kingston tells the story about her grandma's love for opera and how she hopes that one of the operas incorporated songs passed on by the Han-barbarian poetess Ts'ai Yen.