Free Study Guide: The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston|
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THE WOMAN WARRIOR: PLOT NOTES / SYNOPSIS
Moon Orchid begs her sister to come with her to the home of her husband. Brave Orchid agrees that she will because it will be exciting to go and accuse him of murderous things. She is also curious to see his new wife. Moon Orchid is not curious at all; she wants to turn back, fearing her husband will hit her. Brave Orchid chuckles and answers that she will just hit him harder. Moon Orchid’s daughter is not interested in being present for the meeting and asks to be dropped off at her house. Brave Orchid had tried to get her niece to confront her father five years ago when she came to the United States, but her niece had refused. She only sent him a letter stating that she was in the country and asking him for a visit; but he had not wanted to see her. At her daughter's house, Moon Orchid wants to go in and see her grandchildren, but Brave Orchid will not let her until after the confrontation.
They drive downtown to the address they have; it is a skyscraper. When Moon Orchid resists going in, Brave Orchid tells her to stay in the car while she scouts the building. As she walks past a mirror inside, she thinks she is still fast and feels young. “It was mirrors, not aches and pains, that turned a person old.” She waits outside the elevator until it is almost filled, for she does not know how to operate it by herself. She gets off on his floor, finds his door, and realizes it is his workplace. She is glad because this way she will not have to deal with the younger wife. She has never liked second wives since her father took one of them after marrying her mother.
Brave Orchid enters a waiting room and sees a receptionist, who must summon a nurse to speak Chinese. It happens to be the second wife. Brave Orchid tells her she has the flu. The nurse suggests finding another doctor because this doctor is a brain surgeon. Brave Orchid quickly realizes her brother-in-law must be smart, “smart enough to learn ghosts ways.”
(She has never practiced medicine in the United States because she would need more training and she could never learn English.) Brave Orchid knows she will have to think of a way to outwit Moon Orchid’s husband. She leaves and goes to the car. Brave Orchid tells her sister that she has met the second wife, who is pretty and young. Then, she powders Moon Orchid's face so she can compete. She decides her sister must walk directly into the office and make an announcement to the patients that she is the doctor's wife. Moon Orchid is afraid and says, “I won't be able to talk.” In fact, her voice was already fading into a whisper.
Brave Orchid devises a new plan. She tells her son to go to the office and tell the doctor there has been an accident out in the street. She wonders for a moment if they should put Moon Orchid in the middle of the street lying down with her leg bent under her. Her son suggests sarcastically, that they push her down in the intersection and pour ketchup on her and he will "run over her a little bit." Brave Orchid tells him to stop being silly, claiming that he doesn’t take life seriously. At her son's reluctance, she tells him he will ruin his aunt's life if he does not follow directions. "You can't understand business begun in China." As Brave Orchid’s son departs, Moon Orchid groans and holds her stomach. Brave Orchid scolds her to sit up and stop crying.
The son soon comes running with his uncle, carrying a black doctor's bag.
Moon Orchid’s husband, with black hair and no wrinkles, enters the front
seat, authoritative in his business suit. He asks where the accident is.
The women are both silent. "Brave Orchid held her words back. She
would not let herself interfere with this meeting after long absence."
When he calls them grandmothers, Brave Orchid shouts that this is his
wife. He recognizes her and asks her what she is doing here. "But
all she did was open and shut her mouth without any words coming out."
Brave Orchid speaks up and tells him she sent for her sister. He looks
directly at Moon Orchid and asks her what she wants. She shrinks from
his stare. He tells her it is a mistake for her to be here, that she does
not have the hardness for this country; he also states that he has a new
life. Moon Orchid whispers, "What about me?" He tells her to
go live with her daughter, and he will mail her money as always. He insists
that he has been a good husband. Brave Orchid tells him he has made her
sister live like a widow. "Moon Orchid was so ashamed, she held her
hands over her face.”
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. 09 May 2017