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Free Study Guide: The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

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The book is set in the present time in Oakland, California, but the characters also visit San Francisco, California, and, in memory, they visit the past in a small village in Canton, China.


Major Characters

Maxine Kingston
The Chinese-American protagonist of the book. She is seen in the memoirs at different ages, From a young girl to a mature woman.

Brave Orchid
Maxine's mother, who is a very strong-willed Chinese-American woman. In China, she was a medical doctor, and in the United States, she owns a laundry with her husband and in her older years, works in the tomato fields as an itinerant farm worker.

Minor Characters

The Woman Warrior
A figure from folklore, who proves her filial piety (a strong virtue of Chinese culture: meaning to show respect and care for ones parents and ancestors) by saving her family and her village in China.

Moon Orchid
Brave Orchid's sister, who comes as an elderly woman, from Hong Kong to the United States in order to join her husband, who had abandoned her years ago.

No Name Woman
Maxine's father's sister, who became pregnant in China by an unknown man who was not her husband and who committed suicide and infanticide after bearing her child.



Maxine, a second generation Chinese-American, struggles with her split nationality and with her female gender.


Brave Orchid is the antagonist for much of the memoirs, but only because she personifies the Chinese heritage with which Maxine struggles.


Maxine confronts her mother, Brave Orchid, and accuses her of all the difficulties of being born Chinese-American.


The memoirs end in comedy, for Maxine reconciles with her mother and her heritage and is able to weave together an identity rich both in Chinese heritage and new American values.

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The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston: Free BookNotes Summary

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