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The Woman Warrior

In the introduction to When Memory Speaks, Ker Conway (1999) frequently discusses the dilemma of duality for female writers, both in terms of maintaining a separate voice and gender and writing autobiography in a culture, language, and consciousness that are male dominated: ôWhat makes the reading of autobiography so appealing is the chance it offers to see how this man or that womanàhas negotiated the problem of self-awareness and has broken the internalized code a culture supplies about how life should be experienced.ö For Maxine Hong Kingston, a Chinese American female, culture presented a dual ethnic dilemma in addition to a dual gender dilemma. Hong Kingston chose to become a writer to find expression for defining self, something that is readily apparent in the largely autobiographical The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. While a review of KingstonÆs novel might equally fit in ConwayÆs sections entitled ôFeminist Plotsö, ôAssertive Womenö, and ôGrim Talesö, I believe it most fits into the section labeled ôWord and Image,ö because of the nature of both silence and voice in The Woman Warrior.

The Woman Warrior recounts the struggles of a Chinese American girl to find herself, feeling distanced both from her familyÆs rigid culture that places a premium value on ôsonsö and American culture which views her as ôdifferentö. Language, words, and voice are extremely important throughout the story. Communication becomes the means of either alienation or acceptance; of losing self or finding self. The young woman uses education as an escape from her traditional culture, one often mired in superstition and oppression. However, education will not make her what her parents truly desire, a ôboyö. As she tells us, ôI went away to college and I studied and I marched to change the world, but I did not turn into a boy. I would have liked to bring myself back as a boy for my parents to welcome with...

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The Woman Warrior. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:12, April 21, 2019, from