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Woman Warrior - Women in the Traditional Chinese Culture

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Women in the traditional Chinese culture were disrespected and abused. Women were expected to stay in their homes where they would serve their families. Women dependent on their fathers and once they married, their husband had control over them. Even though Kingston's mother wishes for her daughter to be a proper, submissive Chinese woman and tells her stories to that end, Kingston uses these stories to define herself as a strong warrior woman.

The first story to which Kingston relates to, is the one her mother, Brave Orchid, tells her about Kingston's aunt who committed suicide. When Kingston's aunt gave birth to a child while her husband was working in America, the people from Kingston's aunt village attacked and destroyed her aunts family's house and crops. In the morning, Brave Orchid was the one who found the body of Kingston's aunt and her baby in the family's well. By telling this story to her daughter, Brave Orchid hopes that the fear of humiliating her family and death will keep Kingston from premarital sex. Brave Orchid goes on saying that "Now that you have started to menstruate, what happened to her could happen to you. Don't humiliate us. You wouldn't like to be forgotten as if you had never been born. The villagers are watchful"(4). By saying this, Brave Orchid is warning her daughter not to humiliate her family. Kingston has knowledge of her mother's techniques of giving advice and says, "Whenever she had to warn us about life, my mother told stories that ran like this one [about Kingston's aunt], a story to grow up on"(5). However Kingston has trouble understanding the point her mother wants to convey and she says, "Those of us in the first American generation have had to figure out how the invisible world the emigrants built around our childhoods fits in solid America"(5). Kingston refers to China as "invisible"(5) because it is a place she hears about, and she refers to America as "solid"(5) because not only she lives there, but she also in contact with Americans on a daily basis.

Because Kingston finds her mother's story hard to apply to her American way of living she decides to rewrite it. Kingston rewrites the story with her American understanding of the various reasons that might have caused her aunt's actions. Kingston reflects on the idea of women obeying the men and says, "Women in the old China did not choose. Some men had commanded her to lie with him and be his secret evil"(6). Kingston goes on by saying that, "He was not a stranger because the village housed no strangers....His demand must have surprised, then terrified her. She obeyed him; she always did as she was told"(6). As Kingston rewrites her aunt's story, she discovers some similarities between her aunt and herself: "She brushed her hair back from her forehead, tucking the flaps behind her ears....Opening her fingers, she cleaned the thread, and then rolled it along her hairline and the tops of her eyebrows"(9). She goes on by saying that "My mother did the same to me and my sisters and herself"(9). Kingston also relates to her aunt's rebellion by telling her own version of her aunt's story, regardless of her mother's warnings not to do so, and Kingston concludes the story by saying that, "My aunt haunts me-her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her, though not origamied into houses and clothes"(16).

The second story to which Kingston relates to, is the one of a woman warrior named Fa Mu Lan, who

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