The Woman Warrior Essay - Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Biography Series The Woman Warrior Analysis

Maxine Hong Kingston

Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction The Woman Warrior Analysis

As the formative experiences of a writer seeking her authentic voice, The Woman Warrior involves the reader in a central concern of adolescence: the struggle for identity. The conflicts that feed this struggle include sexuality, gender, and individuality within family and community. Complicating these conflicts for Kingston is the author’s self-consciousness as an Asian American.

The book’s subtitle, Memories of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, indicates Kingston’s absorption in penetrating the memories that shadow her early years. Such shadows suggest the ambiguities that engulf her past. By her inclusion of legendary characters of both fame and infamy, Kingston roots her sense of self deep in time and space, beyond the realms of moral certainty.

Kingston’s acknowledgment of a figure of scandal as part of her heritage is an act of defiance, for her “no name” aunt has been expelled from the family. Significantly, it is this tale with which Kingston opens the book. In dignifying this aunt by telling her story, Kingston breaks a ban and at the same time releases her own individual voice. Rather than an impersonal figure of a moralistic tale, “No Name Woman” is fleshed out by Kingston as a woman with complex motivations. As an author creating a narrative, as well as a young woman discovering her identity, Kingston explores the triumphs and terrors of sexuality in her aunt’s assertion of individual desire. In this way,...

(The entire section is 524 words.)