24 Oct 1996
Storytelling has helped humankind evolve into a wiser species by
allowing those with enough attentiveness and intelligence to learn from the
mistakes of their predecessors. The Chinese culture, like many others world
wide, base their beliefs largely on stories passed down from generation to
generation. Because stories are told and retold, alterations and even new
versions appear. Such is the case in ” Fa Mu Lan,” for more than one version is
known to exist to this day. Many times the changes in a story are to put its
message on a certain level for an individual to understand. If the change is to
keep the message updated with society, the version would be a modernized one.
These stories affect the stories with a flavor of their own personal character.
In The Woman Warrior Maxine Hong Kingston utilizes stories told to her by her
mother as a device to introduce readers to some aspect of her life. Kingston’s
mother pass down to her the wisdom she has acquired from her mistakes throughout
her life along with best hopes and wishes.
The Woman Warrior is a story about the life of Maxine Hong Kingston. It is
easy to see her identity from those memorable occurrences that she mentions
throughout her book, especially the stories her mother told her. The story of
“Fa Mu Lan”, for example, teaches women to strive to be the best they can be.
It is a story about a woman warrior who takes place of her father in battle and
returns in victory as a heroine. It evidently shows that her mother tells this
story with her sincerest hopes and passions for her. Her mother wishes her to
become more than what it was hope for . Even though woman in old China only
grow up to be wives and slaves, she hopes and even dilutions of grandeurs for
her daughters thrive in their hearts. Story-telling has been an essential part
of their childhood.
Maxine Hong Kingston was told that her aunt who committed adultery and
brought shame, bad luck along with destruction to her family. She committed
suicide because she could not face their families not tell who the father of the
children is. The shame brought about by the incident was too much for her to
bare. The story was told to warn the girls from having a child before getting
married, as can be arrived at from this statement in The Woman Warrior: “
Whenever she her mother had to warn us about life, my mother told stories that
ran like this one, a story to grow up on. She tested out strength to establish
realities”(Kingston 5) referring to her aunt. Hong did not reveal the father of
her daughter, possibly a rape or a forbidden love. From the story, the listener
can examine those mistakes make by the earlier generation and avoid possible
The Woman Warrior is a book about lives of Chinese American women, their
struggles, hardships, hopes and joy. Hong’s story, however focuses on the
stories her mother had told her in her youth. Hong tell these stories to shed
light on the Chinese culture, mind set, etiquette. This is a book of the
bibliography of a woman through the ups and downs of her mothers tales. She
provided the reader and opportunity to experience those same stories that
affected her so much in her childhood.