In The Woman Warrior, how does Maxine Hong Kingston establish her own personal identity?

Expert Answers

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As explained in, The Woman Warrior recounts five different milestones that contribute to Maxine Hong Kingston's growth as a person and the development of her identity.

First, in her early elementary-school years, Kingston does not speak. Her withdrawal shows how torn she is between the two cultures in her life (Chinese and American). She embraces neither language.

Secondly, Kingston begins to notice the sexual double standard in her family. The boys are treated as more special and lavished with more praise than the girls. Kingston wants to transcend the sexism of her culture and become a "woman warrior."

Third, Kingston comes to terms with her own mother's unfulfilled longings. In China, she was a doctor but cannot practice medicine in America. She instead takes on the more traditional role of wife and mother.

Fourth, Kingston finds her anger. She attacks a quiet Chinese girl (who reminds her of herself) and heatedly confronts her mother about her storytelling.

Finally, Kingston begins to reconcile all the contradictory elements of her life. She is at peace with being both Chinese and American, and even at peace with her mother.

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