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The Woman Warrior: Talk Stories in Chinese culture
Transcript of The Woman Warrior: Talk Stories in Chinese culture
there is never only one truth Oral Tradition in Chinese Culture Brave Orchid's Use of Talk Stories The Woman Warrior Kingston's voice is very distanced, it is a narrative account Talk Story in Chinese Culture Kingston's Background No Name Woman Shaman Her parents came to America in 1925 and 1940 separately for the Gold Rush
An American Born Chinese (ABC)
Experience cultural clashes between Chinese and Western cultures
Main source of Chinese knowledge came from her mother's talk stories
At least one talk-story in each chapter The recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information, based on the personal experiences. Oral tradition of storytelling
Professional storytellers (marketplace, bazaar and tea houses, etc.) Bibliography pg. 5 "Whenever she had to warn us about life, my mother told stories that ran like this one, a story to grow up on. She tested out strengths to establish realities" pg. 5 "Whenever she had to warn us about life, my mother told stories that ran like this one, a story to grow up on. She tested out strengths to establish realities" Chinese variation of fables or parables Shaman is the intermediate between the real world and the spirit world. “Here is a story my mother told me,” she writes, “not when I was young, but recently, when I told her I also talk-story. The beginning is hers, the ending, mine” (Kingston 206). --Talk-story used as a conclusion because talk-story itself is indefinite, an appropriate ending for The Woman Warrior, not only because talk-story is a mixture of fact and fiction like the book as a whole, but also because this particular talk-story is partially Brave Orchid’s and partially Maxine’s. This symbolizes the balance established at the end of the book, as Maxine learns to come to terms with her Chinese-American identity. A form of Chinese oral storytelling
spoken stories that combine Chinese history, myths, and beliefs Talk-story an art form
"university of ordinary people" Examples of Famous Talk-stories of Chinese Culture: The Journey to the West The Story of Magpie Bridge Fa Mu Lan Chang'e No name Woman refers to Kingston's forgotten aunt. Brave Orchid tells the story as a warning to her daughter
traditional virtues should be kept Kingston admires her aunt as a heroine who rebels against her feudal community
Tells the story to serve her own needs Fa Mulan refers to a mythical woman warrior. 1st person narrative
Kingston imagines herself to be the warrior
Fights poverty, and sexual and racial injustice since childhood
"words are her weapons" Mulan fought in a war against corrupted emperor
she save her home village
sword was her weapon To a young Kingston, Brave Orchid's past is terrifying:
- Chinese babies left to die
- slave girls being bought and sold
- a woman stoned to death by her villagers
"shaman" is a metaphor for Kingston's own life
Kingston is between two worlds, the world of her culture and ancestors and the world of the "ghosts" (foreigners)
Retelling the talk-stories of her mother reflects her sense of confusion with her identity, being Chinese-American Ts'ai Yen:
Born in 177 C.E.
captured by Hsiung-nu (non-Chinese barbarians)
faced with racism
combined Chinese songs with barbarian reed pipe spends her young womanhood an unhappy captive in a foreign culture makes her own "songs" by adapting and creating a synthesis of two cultures "At the Western Palace" is Brave Orchid's talk-story about an "emperor who had four wives, one at each point of the compass". Analogy for Moon Orchid's situation Brave Orchid, like Kingston, has confusion about the reality of talk-stories
- she tries to use talk-story to justify Brave Orchid's talk-story intends to teach her children about the Chinese culture, history, and values. It is also a means to justify some of actions as she believes in the reality of the talk-stories. http://www.chinaqw.com/hqhr/hrjy/200811/21/138692.shtml
https://files.nyu.edu/slw320/public/index_files/atalkstory.htm ”Chinese-Americans, when you try to understand what things in you are Chinese, how do you separate what is peculiar to childhood, to poverty, insanities, one family, your mother who marked your growing with stories, from what is Chinese? What is Chinese tradition and what is the movies?” " "A long time ago...the emperor had four wives, one at each point of the compass, and they lived in four palaces...the Empress of the West has imprisoned the Earth's Emperor in the Western Palace. And you, the good Empress of the East, come out of the dawn to invade her land and free the Emperor. You must break the strong spell she has cast on him that has lost him the East." "Sometimes moon orchid seemed to listen too readily--as if her sister were only talking story."