Study Guide

Memoirs of a Geisha Identity

By Arthur Golden


Most people wear makeup to either enhance, change, or hide their looks. That's the purpose of makeup, whether you're watching makeup tutorials on YouTube to transform yourself or just putting on a little guyliner before going out on a Friday night.

But the geisha in Memoirs of a Geisha take makeup to an entirely different level. A geisha putting on makeup is like Sailor Moon transforming, except it takes hours. When she does it, she assumes a brand new identity. Her makeup is almost impenetrable, like a shield. Who is this woman underneath all that makeup? You may never know.

Questions About Identity

  1. How would you describe Sayuri? Does she act the same in and out of geisha makeup? Does becoming a geisha change Chiyo?
  2. Is Hatsumomo as terrible as Sayuri makes her out to be? How would her character be different if this book were her memoirs instead?
  3. Sayuri didn't choose to be a geisha, but how does she feels about being a geisha at the end of the book?
  4. Who would Chiyo be if she never became Sayuri, a geisha?

Chew on This

Geisha are super-secretive about their identities, but this secrecy puts up a wall between them and others.

With this book being Sayuri's memoirs, she always tries to portray herself in a positive light.