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The Woman Warrior

The Woman Warrior

by Maxine Hong Kingston

Race Theme

"Race" may not be the best term for the complicated identity questions that Kingston delves into in The Woman Warrior. However, race definitely plays a role within these stories as our narrator sorts through her many identities. For much of the memoir, Kingston reflects on what it means to be Chinese American and a woman. The book also explores racial divides in China itself (like Ts'ai Yen's being captured by the supposed barbarians).

Questions About Race

  1. What role does race take in this book? How about nationality? Ethnicity?
  2. How would these memoirs be different if Kingston were not Chinese American?
  3. How does Kingston suggest there is a difference between the Chinese Americans of her generation and those of the immigrant (Brave Orchid's) generation?
  4. What is the interaction between people of different racial groups in this novel?

Chew on This

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

Kingston does not feel the same pressure to speak around Chinese-class students as she does when in an English-speaking school. This implies that Kingston's level of speaking comfort varies depending on the people she is around.

Race is not made to be a big issue in this novel since almost all of the characters are ethnically Chinese. Instead, the relationships are more marked by nationality and generation.

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