Gender issues are culturally defined, and gender can be one of the elements of culture shock occurring when a person moves from one culture to another. Maxine Hong Kingston's book The Woman Warrior is one of many stories by children of immigrants showing contrasts and tensions between the dual role the children assume, that of traditional child (a role imposed and expected by the parents) and that of American child (a role adopted by the children as they face the realities of their new culture). Her story takes a particular tack in that it also involves issues of gender, which have a special meaning in her culture and which bring about particular tensions given that the nature of gender roles in Chinese society are quite different from that in American society today. These tensions are evident in differences between her own experience in America and her mother's experience in China.
Maxine Hong Kingston was born in 1940 in Stockton, California, to a Chinese immigrant family, and she grew up and lived in a Chinese community that followed the customs and tradition of its native land. The expectation for women in traditional Chinese society was as a wife or a slave, though in Kingston's family this expectation was considered an underachievement. Kingston herself would often be bombarded by negative comments directed towards her and her sister because the people in this more traditional Chinese community did not recognize the value of girl children:
I minded that the emigrant villagers shook their heads at my sister and me. 'One girl and another girl,' they said, and made our parents ashamed to take us out together (Kingston 46).
Kingston started to roll on the floor and scream until she could not stop--this was her way of objecting to the negativity she heard toward women.
At the same time, though, Kingston points out that higher expectations were placed on her and other Chinese girls even if those expectation...