The Woman Warrior
by Maxine Hong Kingston
The Woman Warrior Versions of Reality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Long ago in China, knot-makers tied string into buttons and frogs, and rope into bell pulls. There was one knot so complicated that it blinded the knot-maker. Finally an emperor outlawed this cruel knot, and the nobles could not order it anymore. If I had lived in China, I would have been an outlaw knot-maker (5.14).
The author likens storytelling to knot-making and imagines what it would have been like to live in another place and time. The opening with "Long ago in China" shows us how this story has been passed down from generation to generation.
Maybe because I was the one with the tongue cut loose, I had grown inside me a list of over two hundred things that I had to tell my mother so that she would know the true things about me and to stop the pain in my throat (5.150).
Kingston wants to share her truths with her mom, but she soon learns that her mom has a different sense of truth.
"And I don't want to listen to any more of your stories; they have no logic. They scramble me up. You lie with stories. You won't tell me a story and then say, 'This is a true story,' or, 'This is just a story.' I can't tell the difference. I don't even know what your real names are. I can't tell what's real and what you make up. Ha! You can't stop me from talking" (5.163).
Kingston calls her mom out on confusing her sense of reality with her talk story. Growing up with so many stories told by Brave Orchid, Kingston conflates her sense of truth and story.