In what ways did Maxine Hong Kingston's life experiences and the way she grew up inform her book The Woman Warrior? 

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Woman Warrior, Kingston explores the disconnect that she felt growing up with both her Chinese and American cultures.  She was raised in Stockton, California, where her father relocated after losing his business in New York.  Shortly after, Kingston's mother left China and joined the father.  In California, the father got back into the laundry business, and they settled to raise their family.  Kingston's father did not like to talk about the past in China, preferring to look ahead to the future.  Kingston's mother, on the other hand, often told her daughter stories and myths about China.  Kingston says throughout The Woman Warrior that she was often confused by these stories because they often changed perspective and did not give clear details of events that must have occurred.  Her mother did not try to fix these stories and simply stated that this is how memory works.  In her memoir, Kingston tries to reconcile these stories and often ends up "filling in the blanks" to create meaning for herself.

As a child, Kingston did not know how to function in her cultural divide--she did not speak English until she went to school, and while at school she started to hate other children who were silent and appeared as stereotypical Chinese children.  In sixth grade, she bullied another girl in her class whom she thought should speak up for herself, and Kingston ended up suffering a breakdown after the incident that kept her out of school for over a year.  Thus, the tension between silence and speech is also prevalent in Kingston's story.

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The Woman Warrior

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