Issues of Identity in The Woman Warrior: Analytical Essay

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Identity being yourself not trying to fit a mold set up by society due to your race or ethnicity; to be true to yourself is to uphold your bicultural identity. There are many races and cultures throughout the world that uphold many different beliefs and ideas on how life should be lived and how one should act; to fall under a social construct and oblige to please others leads to you being unsatisfied knowing you're more than what society is holding you too. The Woman Warrior a memoir by Maxine Hong Kingston she explores the idea of one's own identity and how at times it leads to conflict and questioning on what the right thing is to do. Her being a first-generation Chinese American woman to her immigrant parents from China with the expectation of her to uphold Chinese tradition and culture in another part of the world were the way of life is almost completely different. Being voiceless and being told to be “silent” Maxine’s memoir is a mixture of her personal experiences, the experience of her family members, and Chinese folklore she mixes into her story to give them a stronger meaning. Through the short stories of the book, there are many instances of emotional and physical abuse that women face and how they are made to seem voiceless.

In the first story “No Name Woman” Kingston reveals to us a secret her family holds about her aunt who is not to be named because she disrespected the family name by cheating on her husband who went to America to find work with another man in china and got pregnant. With little information that Kingston has on the exact details on what happens and what the no-name woman was going through Kingston decided to give her a voice. The no-name woman is a disgrace to her village after they find out she has become pregnant so they raid her home and destroy her property which leads her to give birth in a pig shed and kill herself and a child by jumping down a well. A quote that Kingston used to describe her was My aunt haunts me — her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her.' (Kingston,16). Never learn the name of her aunt Kingston decides to honor her by giving her the name the no-name woman after she had been reduced to nothing and forgotten by everyone else leaving her voiceless and her only legacy being that she had dishonored her family.

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In traditional Chinese culture, women don't usually have a voice and are usually the caretakers and their job is to get a husband and uphold the family legacy by providing the husband with a son. Many times mothers help comfort their daughters by telling them stories and folktales like how Kingston mentioned how her mother told her the story of Fa Mu Lan and how she was inspired to believe that a woman could be more than what society held them to be.

The story of Brave Orchid who is Kingston's mother we learns how she is a Chinese immigrant in America and how voiceless she must feel due to her not being able to speak English leaving her voiceless to the majority to the American population. Also with Kingston feeling that Chinese sounds ugly due to her perception that Americans find it weird and ugly I turn having her be silent and not want to speak Chinese leaving her to fall under a social construct of what she thinks society will think of her giving up her identity.

In the story “At a western palace,” we learn the story of Moon Orchid who is Brave Orchids sister from Hong Kong and how through a series of events that have happened throughout her life with her family and husband she now deeply believes that women shouldn't question men’s authority and they should be silent. We see in the story that her husband tells her that he has American guests coming over and she is not allowed to speak while they are there. This, in turn, is removing the identity that she holds and is no longer able to express herself constantly being suppressed by her husband leaving her to nothing but a voiceless woman. Years later after being without her husband Moon Orchid is unable to speak she is broken and voiceless her only voice being the one Kingston gave her through her story in a way of empowering her and getting her story out.

By the end of her memoir, Kingston reflects on her life and how she has been trying to find herself and her identity she reflects on Chinese culture and how it treats women and compares it to how similar it is to America's treatment of women. The main conclusion Kingston comes to is how underrepresented women are and how they are just expected to be quiet. To me, it seems that this memoir is a method that Kingston uses to heal by talking about her experiences growing up and the stories are kinda a way of healing by explaining why she felt the way she did but at the same time giving us a closer insight on women in society but connecting it to which she fits in the most with which is Chinese American.

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