Discuss the characterization of Brave Orchid in the excerpt from The Woman Warrior.

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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Brave Orchid is Maxine's mother. She is full of stories that reveal family sagas as well as heroes and heroines. Through Brave Orchid's tale of her sister-in-law who committed adultery she tries to influence Maxine by a series of admonitions, like, don't do this, don't do that. The story reveals that the sister-in-law who had committed adultery, committed suicide and since then, the family never mentions her name.(The No Name Woman)

Brave Orchid's life story started when she was born in China. Two of her children died. She spent 10 years of her life waiting for her husband's to come home before she finally decided to go to medical school. She eventually became a doctor and practiced medicine in China.

But she give up everything to move to America, (Stockton , CA) where she and her husband own a laundry, and she works part-time as a tomato picker. She had 6 children who she raised to know their Chinese background and culture. But they think she is superstitious since she talks about "ghosts". She is a strict parent. Brave Orchid is always referring to Maxine as stupid or ugly. She reprimands her for being too noisy and without any humor. She is always "on her" trying to make her perfect.

She is presented in the novel as the strong Chinese mother. She focuses on Maxine, trying to protect her life, through constant rituals that will influence luck and good fortune to come her way. It is like the way that the Chinese utilize fen shui, positioning the furniture in such a way as to influence the fates.

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