Professor child. These stories are a combination

Professor Amy Hungerfordpresents that the literature written after World War II could beclassified into the “Identity Plot” category, which is a type ofstructure used in novels and a way of understanding novels in thetwentieth century. This “Identity Plot” structure was used inAmerican novels written after 1945. We could agree that Maxine H.Kingston`s The Woman Warrior fits into this literacy category, due tothe fact that this novel explores the tension between individual andcollective identities and tries to find the main character`sidentity. Many aspects of this book make this novel to be included inthe “Identity Plot” genre: First of all, the narrative ofthe Maxine H. Kingston`s novel makes the reader question how canKingston`s identity be defined and understood. Throughout the wholenovel Kingston, the narrator herself, explains fiction andnon-fiction talk stories that her mother told her when she was achild.

These stories are a combination of her relatives histories andmythical heroines that her mother narrates as cautionary tales to herdaughter. All of this combined into the narrator of the story havinga conflicted childhood as a Chinese girl living in America. Thisconflicted childhood as an immigrant in America made her havedifficulties with her identity and communication, as her mother`sinfluence and cultural clash between them cause her problems too.Some examples of this talk stories could be “Shaman”, “No namewoman”…Another aspect worth mentioningcould be that she is part of a minority of Chinese immigrants and sheis a female. Being a woman in such a patriarchal culture makes a hugeimpact in the narrator and makes her be in a point that she feelslike she is opposed to her own culture, due to the fact that she hasfeelings of not belonging to that culture and frustration about herown culture.

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She feels like her culture restricts people from manythings in their life, but she feels like women are especiallyoppressed. Kington in this novel wants to reach out to otherChinese-American who share her feelings of displacement andfrustration. In this novel, America is described as a land of freedomand chances comparing with the strict traditions of the immigrants,but being part of a culture so oppressing makes the reader understandthe character and the circumstances she goes through. In this novel,there are various examples of chapters where it is explained thestrict Chinese culture, the role of women in the Chinese culture andhow Kingston copes with the struggle of being a Chinese immigrant inAmerica. The last chapter “Song for abarbarian reed pipe” is a great example of the struggle a Chineseimmigrant has to cope with in an American school. Kingston in herinitial experiences in the United States has difficultiescommunicating with the others, because she didn`t know the languageat all and due to that school became a misery when she had to talkand express herself. She didn`t talk and she painted her paintings inblack ink.

In this final chapter, she goes through a process offinding her own voice. Kingston is naturally quiet, but Chineseemigrants are so guarded of their community that they keep silenceabout everything and especially the children, so the American culturebeing more open makes is a huge problem for Kingston. Language isseen as identity in this chapter.Eachchapter of this book is focused on a woman that affects Kingston`slife and in most cases, it illustrates how that woman relates to themale-dominated society around her. In most cases, the power ofculture and traditions are more oppressing than the men around them.

A clear example of this could be the first chapter of the book, “Noname woman”, where Kingston`s paternal aunt committed suicide, dueto the fact that she was hardly criticised by thevillagers that raided and destroyed her house,aftershe became pregnant, but not from her husband. This chapter expressesthe conflictof how the Chinese can have a private life, the role of women in theChinese culture, society’s need for control and how all of this iscontrolled by their tradition.A further important aspect couldbe that Kingston is disturbed with her difference from the nativeAmerican and from the Chinese immigrants. For Kingston, it isespecially difficult to adjust to the strict and restrictivetraditions of the Chinese people living in America with the freedomand chances of America. Being a Chinese-American girl means that sheis between both worlds without really knowing how to be a part ofeither.

Furthermore, Kingston feels different from her schoolclassmates and her own Chinese relatives. Kingston has many difficultiesto identify herself with any of both cultures, for instance, thetypical characteristic of Chinese women, like speaking loudly, areconsidered as non-feminine for the American natives. Anotherdifficulty for Kingston is that her own culture is filtered throughtalk stories of her mother, as she tells Kingston what she wants andKingston herself never experienced fully her own culture. In the lastchapter of the book, Maxine Kingston rebels against her mother, asrealizes how sexist the Chinese are even in America and how hermother told her what she wanted. She wants to tell her mothereverything that she did not dare to tell her and she makes an act ofresistance using her voice.Maxine Hong Kingston feelsalienated from Chinese culture, due to the fact that the lack oftrust she notices in that culture, but she also leans on the Chineseculture to identify herself and to give her a positive image ofherself. For example, in the story of “No name woman”, Maxineuses her Aunt`s history to grow up on, learns to read her as aforerunner of herself and Kingston sees her paternal aunt as aheroine.

This talk story is originally narrated as a cautionary talefor Kingston from her mother, but she feels like it is anemancipatory story, her aunt is a model for her and she uses it as apositive thing. On the other hand, “White Tigers” is a mythic andfantastic tale of filial piety, determination and strength of thecharacter Fa Mu Lan. This talk story narrates the story of Fa Mu Lana woman warrior who saved her family that disguised as a man torecruit an army to destroy tyrants, so in this case, we coulddetermine that she uses this story to give her a positive self- imageand not feel so alienated from her culture.Thereare comic versions and tragic versions of the “Identity plot”,but especially this novel is a comic version of this plot. In thiscomic version of the plot, Kingston comes to peace with her identity.

Through the whole novel, Kingston is trying to find her identity as aChinese girl in America.Wesee Kingston at some of the most important moments and phases of herlife: as a quiet, insecure, and alienated young girl; as a rebelliousteenager who blames her mother for her problems; as a young adult,separated from her past and finally she becomes a more mature person,embracing her past and using it to find strength as a writer. Shecomes to peace with her identity, because at the end, as mentionedbefore, she embraces her culture and uses it as a positive thing, towrite. The book closes with the mythological character Tsai- Yen,that is about intercultural translation and dialogue, and due to thatshe moves away from the negativity she had for her mother andlanguage.In conclusion, the novel “TheWoman Warrior” fits in this literary category, as there are manyaspects that make this novel to be included in the “Identity plot”.

These aspects include Maxine being a part of a minority, in thiscase, the Chinese immigrants in America, Kingston being disturbed byher difference from the Americans and Chinese immigrants… Finally,this book could be included in the comic version of this kind ofconvention, because at the end Maxine comes to peace with heridentity as a Chinese-American.


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