The Woman Warrior:
Memoirs of a Girlhood
Among Ghosts
Maxine Hong-Kingston
Who are You?
A. I define myself with
one culture
B. I define myself with
more than one
culture
0%

lf
ys
e
m
Id
ef
in
e

I...
Conflicting Cultures
• Culture
• Context

• High Context=China
• Low Context=United
States
High Context Culture
• Information comes from
-obedience to authority
-observation
-imitation
• Children are carefully tra...
The U.S is a high context culture
A. True
B. False

se

0%
Fa
l

Tr

ue

0%
Individual in these Cultures…
• Must know what is
unexpressed
• Understand without details
as explanations are insulting
The Bonds are strong
• Authority = responsibility
• No scapegoats
• Forms are important

• No individuality, minor disagre...
Clash of Cultures
• Mothers expect obedience
from daughters
--assume knowledge is
innate

• In the U.S.—
Warnings and inst...
Why don’t Brave Orchid and Maxine
understand each other?

n.
..
ng

do
e
M
ax
in

ei

sb

ei

id
Or
ch
av
e

33%

st
ub
bo...
Talk Story
• Oral tradition
• Passed on through generations

• Essential to family and community
Hong Kingston’s Talk Stories
• Overlapping
• Joint authorship
• Informal turn taking

*Strongly criticized
’You must not tell anyone,’ my mother
said, ‘What I am about to tell you. In
China your father had a sister who
killed her...
“we have to do more than record myth. [. . .]The
way I keep the old Chinese myths alive is by
telling them in a new Americ...
Hong Kingston’s Methods
• Narrating parallel stories of different women
from different times and places.
• Creating versio...
Hong Kingston is highly regarded for
her use of talk story

Tr

50%

se

ue

50%

Fa
l

A. True
B. False
Storyteller and Biographer
• Different women/times but similar
stories
• Five chapters reveal different traits
• Intertext...
Two sets of traits
Weakness, passivity, voicelessness
vs.
Strength, action power and voice
• Woman Warriors are not born

...
Works Cited
Black and white drawing of Chinese men. Logo. Chinoperl.osu.edu. 16 Oct 2013. Web.
Chan, Lai Sai Acón. “Talk S...
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Hong kingston's The Woman Warrior : Culture and Talk-stories

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An analysis of Hong Kingston's cultural elements and her usage of the talk story.
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  • Culture --way of living which a group transmits from one generation to the next. --concepts, skills, habits of thinking and acting, arts, institutions, ways of relating to the world, and agreement on what is significant --Race, ethnicity, class, and gender are cultural creations; they derive their meanings from the cultureContext --the whole situation, background, or environment connected to an event, a situation, or an individualA high-context culture—hasinternalized meaning and information, so that little is explicitly stated in written or spoken messages. In conversation, the listener knows what is meant; because the speaker and listener share the same knowledge and assumptions, the listener can piece together the speaker's meaning. China is a high-context culture.A low-context culture--information and meaning are explicitly stated in the message or communication. Individuals in a low-context culture expect explanations when statements or situations are unclear. Information and meaning are not internalized by the individual but are derived from context, e.g., from the situation or an event. The United States is a low-context culture.
  • Example-Chinese practice of ancestor worship.These cultures are very unified and cohesive.
  • The individual is supposed to know and to react appropriately to what is not being saidOthers are expected to understand without explanation or specific details. If an explanation is required, the speaker regards the listener as not knowledgeable or socialized enough to understand. To members of a low-context culture, speakers in a high-context culture seem to talk around a subject and never to get to the point.
  • In a high-context culture, people in authority are personally and literally responsible for the actions of subordinates, whether -- in government, in business, or in the family.forms (conventional ways of behaving) are important; the individual who does not observe the forms is perceived negatively; the negative judgments for an individual's bad behavior may extend to the entire family.Noembarrassing or awkward situationsTaking action is serious, becauseonce started an action must generally be completed. Individuals can't stop an action because they change their minds, change interest, or unforeseen consequences arise.Reluctance to initiate an undertaking or to give a promise. Chinese parents may overlook a child's behavior, because they expect that the strong family traditionwill cause the child to behave properly.
  • High Context—learning comes through obedience,observation and imitation.They have internalized values and knowledge and assume daughters have done the same. --only requires activationInternalized values are almost a physical identity In US—Chinese ways seem alienMothers cannot understand that their examples are not supported by context of American cultureDo not understand why they do not have the relationship with their daughters they had with mothers in ChinaMaxine—cannot decipher real/ghosts, turth/fiction., meaning of stories why they are being told, or whether events actually happened.
  • Involves history, mythology, genealogy, bedtime stories and how-to storiesSo, Kingston´s talk story is a conscious attempt at creating ambiguity and multiplicity in her texts to produce a dialogue with other texts, and a strategy she employs to blur the distinction between past and present, reality and fantasy, fact and fictionThe Woman Warrior is an example of this new Chinese American trend of storytelling and a story written and narrated by and about women from different time lines, but similar stories. Each of the five chapters reveals different traits of Chinese and Chinese American women, of real and imaginary women, of women both dead and alive, as well as the traits of different narrators and characters, of children and adults and, finally of the writer, Maxine Hong Kingston, who functions as both storyteller and autobiographer. Those many binary pairs produce instances of what could be termed intertextuality, that is, a dialogue between many different texts. The woman warrior seems to be Maxine Hong Kingston, an individual whose process of maturity and individuation is seen in the novel through the prism of other female texts. On the one hand, the protagonists Brave Orchid, No Name Woman, Fa Mu Lan, and Ts’ai Yen, and, on the other hand, secondary characters like her aunt Moon Orchid and the village madwoman are all integral parts of Maxine’s personality. In one way or another, all these women contribute as intertexts to the making of the individual Maxine Hong Kingston, whose childhood, girlhood, and adulthood are the product of a dialogue among female texts.
  • Chinese American writers and critics believe she has tampered with genuine Chinese folklore and myth. Who is the real woman warrior in this memoir? Fa Mu Lan, No Name Woman, Maxine, or Brave Orchid? The woman warrior could certainly be Brave Orchid, who first appears narrating a story about an outcast aunt, but the conventional narrator is Maxine Hong Kingston in a book apparently named after Fa Mu Lan, the legendary warrior. What make is confusing and a bit vague is that in the reading of Brave Orchid, other female texts are inserted within. The stories of the recent past, like No Name Woman’s story, are linked to the stories of the remote past, Fa Mu Lan’s and Ts’ai Yen’s, and to the stories of the present, Brave Orchid’s and Maxine’s. Brave Orchid is merely a link in the long line of story keepers, transmitters, and protagonists of the same stories, recycled endlessly. The stories she “talks-story” are the ones that later influence Maxine’s life and prompt her writing. Even though Maxine thinks these stories are unreal because they “are in Chinese, the language of impossible stories”, these stories are not made up by Brave Orchid since those stories belong to a rich oral tradition in which each new “talk story” contributes something to the tradition.
  • The original purpose of the story is to warn Maxine about the danger of becoming an adult woman: “`Now that you have started to menstruate, what happened to her could happen to you’”However, rather than creating the traditional relationship between narrator and reader, Brave Orchid’s words suggests a world of hypothetically unspeakable stories by and about women. In the telling of the story, Brave Orchid opens up Maxine’s power of imagination and arouses her sensitivity so that the daughter ends up creating an ambiguous world in The Woman Warrior, where there are several theories for her aunt’s misbehavior. The mother also creates a world where patriarchal power is ignored since, by naming the No Name aunt, she becomes a shamanistic-like storyteller with the power to summon her outcast sister-in-law to a world of women warriors. And, in doing so, the mother teaches her daughter to rebel against patriarchal power and in the process to create worlds of her own.It is this talk story that will spur Maxine’s own pondering of her identity. The labyrinthine stories often confuse Maxine because of the cultural differences between them, and so the memoir traces the dual-identity American who must navigate multiple textures in order to create a new culture for herself—one that is not totally of her parents’ culture—and neither wholly the mainstream “American” culture, but one that is a unique reconciliation of both.
  • And that mix of old Chinese myths and a new American way to retell them is what make the “oral stories change [. . .] according to the needs of the listener, [. . .] of the day, the interest of the time, so that the story can be different [. . .] to keep ambiguity in the writing all the time”
  • Conscious attempt atCreating ambiguity and multiplicityProducing dialogue with other textBlurring the distinction between past/present, reality/fantasy, and fact/fictionThis is best seen when after hearing the story of No Name woman, Maxine spends the rest of the chapter envisioning possible explanations and variations of the story in order to make sense of it, thereby adding to the oral tradition of the “talk story,” and engaging in a multi-textured dialogue with both her mother and those before her who “talk storied” in order to find their place in a male-dominated patriarchal society.Another element of this talk story is that Brave Orchid will follow this story, presumably a cautionary tale told to young pubescent girls to highlight the possibility of bringing shame to the household by her sexuality and misconduct. In order to set an example for her daughters, who are about to inaugurate their sexual maturity, she tells them both the stories of No Name Woman and of Fa Mu Lan seemingly to show the difference between wrong and right decisions.The story of Fa Mu Lan will contradict this idea of the shame of womanhood, as in the case of No Name Woman, she is erased from family records for seemingly using her body to appease sexual urges and, therefore, she is unnamed But, in the case of Fa Mu Lan, menstruation does not mean passion but sacrifice. Far from becoming an outcast, the legendary woman warrior sacrifices her femininity and her role as a mother and wife to devote herself to restoring the family’s and village’s name. These conflicts characterize the contradictory nature of Maxine’s own confusion and her journey to understanding these cultural forces in her life, and this is amplified through Hong Kingston’s usage of the talk story.
  • The Woman Warrior is an example of new Chinese American trend Different traits of Chinese and Chinese American women, of real and imaginary women, of women both dead and alive, as well as the traits of different narrators and characters, of children and adults and, finally of the writer, Maxine Hong Kingston,intertextuality, a dialogue between many different texts. The woman warrior seems to be Maxine Hong Kingston, an individual whose process of maturity and individuation is seen in the novel through the prism of other female texts. On the one hand, the protagonists Brave Orchid, No Name Woman, Fa Mu Lan, and Ts’ai Yen, and, on the other hand, secondary characters like her aunt Moon Orchid and the village madwoman are all integral parts of Maxine’s personality.
  • One set--women with the potential to become warriors. The other set refers to women who have already achieved the status of warriors. WWs must undergo and survive a process of transformation, a rite of passage, a series of ordeals (might show signs of weakness/imperfection.)Inherent contradictions, along with the process in which she eventually faces and overcomes her imperfections and flaws, might well raise her to the status of a woman warrior. Kingston balances both sets of female traits, showing women who are/have been both weak and strong. Plurralism:the condition where two or more ideas/states co-existandmultiplicity: large number, help us gauge the work ofthe continuous process of transformation that is going on in each woman as a text. As intertexts, women warriors are not different individuals, who can be easily discerned one from another, but different foreshadowed types of the model woman warrior andthey make up one single person who is constantly changing, a female prototype of a community. 
  • Hong kingston's The Woman Warrior : Culture and Talk-stories

    1. 1. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts Maxine Hong-Kingston
    2. 2. Who are You? A. I define myself with one culture B. I define myself with more than one culture 0% lf ys e m Id ef in e Id ef in e m ys e lf w w it h it h m on e ... or . .. 0%
    3. 3. Conflicting Cultures • Culture • Context • High Context=China • Low Context=United States
    4. 4. High Context Culture • Information comes from -obedience to authority -observation -imitation • Children are carefully trained • High Context Cultures are --stable --rooted --slow to change
    5. 5. The U.S is a high context culture A. True B. False se 0% Fa l Tr ue 0%
    6. 6. Individual in these Cultures… • Must know what is unexpressed • Understand without details as explanations are insulting
    7. 7. The Bonds are strong • Authority = responsibility • No scapegoats • Forms are important • No individuality, minor disagreements or personality clashes
    8. 8. Clash of Cultures • Mothers expect obedience from daughters --assume knowledge is innate • In the U.S.— Warnings and instructions are not supported • Maxine’s conflict
    9. 9. Why don’t Brave Orchid and Maxine understand each other? n. .. ng do e M ax in ei sb ei id Or ch av e 33% st ub bo r sn ’t u t.. . of ou t is id Br av e Br 33% n. .. 33% Or ch A. Brave Orchid is out of touch with reality B. Brave Orchid doesn’t understand Maxine’s American culture doesn’t support her Chinese cultural values C. Maxine is being stubborn refuses to listen
    10. 10. Talk Story • Oral tradition • Passed on through generations • Essential to family and community
    11. 11. Hong Kingston’s Talk Stories • Overlapping • Joint authorship • Informal turn taking *Strongly criticized
    12. 12. ’You must not tell anyone,’ my mother said, ‘What I am about to tell you. In China your father had a sister who killed herself’”
    13. 13. “we have to do more than record myth. [. . .]The way I keep the old Chinese myths alive is by telling them in a new American way”.
    14. 14. Hong Kingston’s Methods • Narrating parallel stories of different women from different times and places. • Creating versions of both Eastern and Western fables. • Presenting multiple versions of female ancestors. • Dreaming up fantastical accounts.
    15. 15. Hong Kingston is highly regarded for her use of talk story Tr 50% se ue 50% Fa l A. True B. False
    16. 16. Storyteller and Biographer • Different women/times but similar stories • Five chapters reveal different traits • Intertextuality • Woman Warrior?
    17. 17. Two sets of traits Weakness, passivity, voicelessness vs. Strength, action power and voice • Woman Warriors are not born • Pluralism/multiplicity
    18. 18. Works Cited Black and white drawing of Chinese men. Logo. Chinoperl.osu.edu. 16 Oct 2013. Web. Chan, Lai Sai Acón. “Talk Story of The Woman Warrior.” Researchgate.net. 12 Oct. 2013. “Lady white.” Mystoryonline.com. 16 Oct. 2013. Web. Lea Baechler and A. Walton Litz, eds, “Maxine Hong Kingston,” Modern American Women Writers, (NY: Scribner, 1991) 257. Melani, Lilia.”Amy Tan: ‘The Joy Luck Club’”. Core Curriculum 10.07. City University New York. 13 Dec. 2004. 14 October 2013. Web. Painting of Chinese rider on horse. 16 Oct 2013. https://encryptedtbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSNNIB2vCF9oGpPHMZPBO8FNbiIaSQFBJ0QkC5dJL3aX-k_sKKb. Web. Painting of Mountains. 16 Oct 2013. https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQy6ZDFdNrg4LFwnTrfH9132oTSTdTWeXx6OENCHe4yMQ4dfzQDg. Web. Photo of Live Oak Trees. Lukemcreynolds.com . 16 Oct 2013. Web. Photoshop template of Asian girl. Jpeg image. Fbox.org. 16 Oct 2013. Web. “silence1”. Photo. Genderacrossborders.com 16 Oct 2013. Web. “US-China-Flag.” Picture. Veteranstoday.com . 16 Oct. 2013. Web. Yoshitoshi, Tsukioka. “Incomparable Woman Warrior: Han Gaku”. Painting. Flickr.com . 16 Oct. 2013. Web.

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