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The Woman Warrior

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In The Woman Warrior, Kingston reveals the cultural conflicts that have affected her and how, ultimately, she is able to fight back and find her own identity.

Kingston's story reveals the difficulties of growing up a first-generation Chinese-American. The book exposes feelings of displacement and alienation from both societies. Kingston is caught between two very different cultures with very different values, without truly belonging to either. She does not feel completely American, because she must go to Chinese school and feels her mother's pressure to conform to Chinese customs, but she does not feel completely Chinese, either. Even the parents of first-generation Chinese-Americans saw them this way: "They would not tell us children because we had been born among ghosts, were taught by ghosts, and were ourselves ghost-like. They called us a kind of ghost" (183). Thus Kingston, like so many other immigrant children, must forge an identity for herself between two worlds that do not completely accept her. She must deal with the austere customs of her Chinese heritage as well as the more liberal, lenient aspects of America. Thus, Chinese-Americans must search to find themselves and their place in society. Truly, Kingston's story is a search for her own voice and an attempt to reconcile the two disparate cultures.

It is even harder for Kingston to find her own place because all of her knowledge of Chinese customs and the history of her family comes to her second-hand. Her mother's talk-stories will haunt her dreams for years to come. Yet she also feels the need to become "American-normal." Kingston remembers walking a certain way and developing a "speaking personality" that was "American feminine" (172) in order to fit in.



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