Eric PerinottiProfessor SachdevWriting and Thinking The Woman Warrior Argumentative Essay Maxine Hong Kingston's novel The Woman Warrior is a series of narrations, vividly recalling stories she has heard throughout her life. These stories clearly depict the oppression of woman in Chinese society. Even though women in Chinese Society traditionally might be considered subservient to men, Kingston viewed them in a different light. She sees women as being equivalent to men, both strong and courageous. In a few stark story, depressing in their own unique way, attempts to disprove the traditional Chinese saying "it's better to have geese than girls". The first talk-story told to Kingston by her mother deals with the suicide of one of her aunts, who remains nameless throughout the tale.
After becoming pregnant from a man other than her husband, Kingston's aunt is forced to conceive the illegitimate child in a pigsty, while the villagers raid and destroy her home. The next morning the disgraced woman plunges down a well while holding her newborn child, resulting in both their deaths. Kingston's mother told her this story as a warning; to avoid being a disgraceful and disloyal woman like her aunt. Kingston, however, does not view her aunt as a promiscuous woman, but rather a victim or a martyr. "Imagining her free with sex doesn't fit", she claimed. Kingston imagines her aunt as a woman who abandoned the traditions set forth by China's extremely patriarchal society.
She saw her and someone who did what so many Chinese women should be doing, acting on their premonitions of love, not the strict rules of the society. In this aspect, she was a martyr. She killed herself and baby to spare them lives of severe subjugation Kingston also states how her aunt was possibly raped, showing how she was a victim rather than a woman who lacks morals. In short, Kingston's does not view the story of her aunt as one of shame (like her mother intended), but rather one of individuality and free will. The second story, "White Tigers", is a mythical tale of a female warrior who disguises herself as a male and fights in the place of the father. The story completely contradicts the conventional role of woman in Chinese society.
It places a woman in a position of bravery and heroism, which are traditionally reserved for men. This story is unique because Kingston actually places herself in the role of the warrior in the story; she says, "We made a sling for the baby inside my big armor, and rode back into the thickest part of the fighting. The umbilical cord flew with my red flag and made us laugh". This depiction of her fighting while carrying her infant in her arms shows how a woman can fight and nurture at the same time.
She can both give but also take lives, which is something a man is unable to do. This illustrates Kingston belief that woman are not subservient, but in some cases, better than men in some respects. The final story is called "The Shaman". It deals with the story of Kingston's mother, also known as Brave Orchid. Much like the other two stories, Brave Orchid strays from the conventional stigma placed around woman, and gains success through her unique abilities.
She uses money given to her by her husband to become a doctor. She is a brilliant student and impresses everyone with her ability to hunt down and destroy ghosts. Kingston's mother became a respected woman in China, sometimes not too often seen in China's male dominated culture. How the "White Tigers" story showed how a woman could be equivalent to a man on a physical level, this story shows how they can be equivalent on a mental level. She is a "warrior" in her own right. Kingston does not know whether to believe her mother at times, but she is still inspired by her ability to break away from tradition and become a successful independent woman.
The Woman Warrior is a bleak novel on one sense, but also a captivating, and uplifting for women. Kingston's memoirs prove how women, even facing severe oppression, can still be strong enough to fulfill her roles set forth by society.