The Woman Warrior
by Maxine Hong Kingston
The Woman Warrior Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"When your father lived in China," Brave Orchid told the children, "he refused to eat pastries because he didn't want to eat the dirt the women kneaded from between their fingers" (4.218).
Kingston remembers how her mom would tell her about her father's sexism. Our narrator's ardent vow to fight unfair treatment of women quickly causes conflict within the family.
"She's very pretty and very young; just a girl. She's his nurse. He's a doctor like me. What a terrible, faithless man. You'll have to scold him for years, but first you need to sit up straight. Use my powder. Be as pretty as you can. Otherwise you won't be able to compete" (4.269).
Some might call Brave Orchid a complicated feminist. She wishes Moon Orchid to confront her husband for leaving her in China, but Moon Orchid has no wish to do so. Then Brave Orchid makes Moon Orchid feel like she'll need to be prettier to please her husband.
"You want a husband, don't you?" said Brave Orchid. "If you don't claim him now, you'll never have a husband. Stop crying," she ordered. "Do you want him to see you with your eyes and nose swollen when that young so-called wife wears lipstick and nail polish like a movie star?" (4.290).
Brave Orchid speaks for her sister in a way that is not helpful. Why doesn't she just let Moon Orchid do what she wants to do?