The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts–Maxine Hong Kingston–intro/analysis/guide

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This video is designed to help high school students with The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston, published by Vintage Books in 1975.

Students might look at this AFTER they have finished reading the novel and are ready to assess the work as a whole or look at parts very carefully.

In a mere 3 minutes, this video cannot say all that I wish to say, so forgive me if I skip over great bits.

You may turn off the soundtrack or keep it on–I picked music that has no copyright issues.

Some Discussion Questions for The Woman Warrior

1) What in the book justifies The Woman Warrior as a title?

2) Much of the book seems critical of Chinese culture, but the book also suggests that imaginative stories are promoted in that culture. Weigh the good and bad. Does the book present Chinese culture more in a positive way or more in a negative way?

3) The book is identified as a “memoirs.” Its subtitle is “Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts.” Does it matter that Maxine Hong Kingston’s name is in none of the chapters? She was born in Stockton, but that is never said in the book–should that have been included? Does it matter that some of it covers her life as an adult–not girlhood?

4) Consider the book’s opening sentence: “‘You must not tell anyone,’ my mother said, ‘what I am about to tell you.'” Is the author to be admired for preserving her mother’s words, or does the author deserve criticism for violating her mom’s command to NOT repeat the mother’s words?

5) Who in the book is admirable, and who is less admirable?

6) What is the book’s most memorable or interesting passage? That’s an evaluative question.

7) Chapter One is “No-Name Woman” about a long-dead aunt pregnant from rape. Why is her story told? Is there a lesson here?

8) Chapter Two, “White Tigers,” is about mythical warrior Fa Mu Lan. Why is this in the memoirs? Is it pure fantasy that allowed Kingston to ESCAPE from life’s disappointments? Or is the woman warrior a SYMBOL for the narrator’s wasted potential? Or is the woman warrior somehow a real part of the narrator?

9) Does the book suggest that seeds for great stories are deep in Chinese culture? Or does the mom deserve more credit than Chinese culture for stirring the daughter’s imagination?

10) Will the art of telling stories as presented in the book change or disappear due to evolving technology? Or is it more accurate to say that new technology promotes this art of telling stories?

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts–Maxine Hong Kingston–intro/analysis/guide

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