Study Guide

The Woman Warrior Genre

By Maxine Hong Kingston


Autobiography; Coming-of-Age; Folklore, Legend, and Mythology; Postmodernism

One might say that The Woman Warrior is first and foremost an autobiography, stories directly based off of Kingston's life. When she writes about her mom, we believe her to be writing about her actual mom; the family history and intensities are based in real relationships.

We could also rightly categorize Kingston's memoirs in the coming-of-age genre; after all, a lot of Kingston's frustrations are things that we often question when growing up: How do I want to live my life? Do I want to get married? What kind of relationship am I going to have with my family? What do I do with all that has come before me? More generally, she asks – How do I want to be?

You've probably got an inkling where the folklore, legend, and mythology comes in. All the swirling of talk stories, cultural mythology, and literary characters are signature Kingston. It's pretty bold that Kingston gets away with incorporating all of this into an autobiography, don't you think? She weaves the folklore all throughout the story. Her identity is so closely intertwined with the stories that it's impossible for her to describe herself without them. The memoirs style is totally postmodern. It demonstrates a love of incongruency and a complete disregard for linear storytelling.