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)
Brave Orchid told her children they must help her keep their father from marrying another woman because she didn't think she could take it any better than her sister had. If he brought another woman into the house, they were to gang up on her and play tricks on her, hit her, and trip her when she was carrying hot oil until she ran away (4.367).
Brave Orchid coaxes her children to punish a potential second wife of her husband instead of the husband himself. Why is that?
Normal Chinese women's voices are strong and bossy. We American-Chinese girls had to whisper to make ourselves American-feminine. Apparently we whispered even more softly than the Americans. Once a year the teachers referred my sister and me to speech therapy, but our voices would straighten out, unpredictably normal, for the therapists (5.69).
Kingston is confused which model of femininity she should use as a standard. The very relativity of femininity according to culture, belies how arbitrary those standards can be.
When my sisters and I ate at [the great-grandfather and great-uncle's] house, there we would be – six girls eating. The old man opened his eyes wide at us and turned in a circle, surrounded .His neck tendons stretched out. "Maggots!" he shouted. "Maggots! Where are my grandsons? I want grandsons? Give me grandsons! Maggots!" He pointed at each one of us, "Maggot! Maggot! Maggot! Maggot! Maggot! Maggot!" (5.124).
Kingston gives us another example of a (male) relative who demonstrates shockingly inappropriate behavior toward his female relatives. No wonder Kingston felt during childhood that girls were bad by default.