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Repudiation and reconciliation of two Woman Warriors: Brave Orchid and Maxine Hong Kingston.

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Introduction

Repudiation and reconciliation of two Woman Warriors: Brave Orchid and Maxine Hong Kingston To many, China is an exotic country with mysteries and riddles that haven't yet been solved. In The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kinston reveals true China to readers through her collection of "talk-stories" from a Chinese mother to her daughter. Through her talk stories, Brave Orchid extends Chinese tradition into the lives of her American children and enriches their imagination. While Brave Orchid's storytelling is educational and informative, it also reiterates patriarchal and misogynistic messages of traditional Chinese culture. Moreover, as Brave Orchid does not explain her stories, Kingston interprets her mother's stories and becomes a storyteller herself. While Brave Orchid tells her talk story to her daughter Kingston, she tries to shape an ideal Chinese woman. Yet Maxine Hong Kingston interprets the talk story with American values and develops her distinctly mixed American and Chinese ideas. Brave Orchid is in a way a woman warrior, a 'word-warrior' who struggles for self-definition and fights 'ghosts' in her life. In "Shaman", Brave Orchid transforms from a traditional woman to a respectable doctor who in a way is a woman warrior. ...read more.

Middle

Her struggle with her personal voice and resistance from past extend in "A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe". She recalls that her "silence was thickest- total -during the three years that [she] covered [her] paintings with black paint." The blackness of her painting is not a sign of mental disturbance as her American teacher assumed, but rather "making a stage curtain, [as] it was the moment before the curtain parted and rose." During the time when curtain is still closed, Kingston struggles to let out her voice. Kingston confronts and physically attacks a quiet Chinese American girl and shouts to the girl and herself: "If you don't talk, you can't have a personality." Kingston tries to define herself as a unique self, a Chinese American, and at the same time tries to find her own personality by expressing her personal voices. Once the curtain, silence, is lifted, Kingston transforms into a woman warrior, writer, and reveals "sunlight, mighty operas, underneath" the silence. However, when she breaks out from Chinese interdiction of female speech, she feuds with her mother, Brave Orchid, due to their difference in values. Brave Orchid and Kingston faces several conflicts as Brave Orchid holds Chinese tradition, while Kingston modifies her inherited Chinese value with her American view. ...read more.

Conclusion

Brave Orchid and Kingston's contrast finally meets reconciliation later when Kingston accepts her maternal inheritance and weaves her past and present with her unique voice. In "Shaman", when Brave Orchid finally gives up on the ancestral homeland, Kingston, now released from the 'ghost' of China that was imposed upon her, acknowledges her matrilineage: "I am really a Dragon, as she is a Dragon, both of us born in the dragon years. I am practically a first daughter of a first daughter." As Kingston returns to her matrilineage and Chinese ideals, she develops similarities with her mother, Brave Orchid. Like the swordswoman in "White Tigers", Brave Orchid and Kingston are word warriors, thus the interpenetrating stories of Brave Orchid provide a link between Kingston's past and future. As Kingston realizes her maternal inheritance, she continues the story that her mother has started- "The beginning is hers, the ending, mine." She becomes the storyteller herself. Through the evolving relationship between Brave Orchid and Kingston, two cultures confront each other and blend. Each woman in her own way is a woman warrior. While their different upbringings often result in more confrontation than reconciliation at the beginning, Kingston eventually goes through a process in which she moves from repudiation of her mother to reconciliation with her, allowing Kingston to blend her own Western ideas with her Chinese maternal heritage. ...read more.

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