Study Questions for Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior
Directions: On a separate sheet of paper, give a complete, thoughtful and analytical answer each question below.
**While your questions do not have to be typed, all questions and answers need to be legibly written.
The Woman Warrior: "No Name Woman"
What is the Gold Mountain? What is the origin of this name?
Why does Kingston's mother tell her the story of her aunt? What message does it send? Why is the aunt a "No
What is the status of a woman in the Chinese culture Kingston describes? Defend your answer with examples
from the book. Consider the importance of appearance, usefulness, and self-discipline.
How does Kingston tell the story of her aunt? Why do you suppose she tells it this way?
What is more important in the Chinese culture Kingston describes- the individual or the community? Why
might this question be particularly interesting to a woman who grew up in the United States?
Analyze Kingston's description of space in her description of her aunt. Why does she focus on space?
Why does Kingston say that she has participated in her aunt's punishment?
The Woman Warrior: "White Tigers"
How does the warrior woman change after she gives birth? Why?
Why does Kingston say, "My American life has been such a disappointment"?
Consider the importance of language in this section. For example, analyze the act the warrior woman's parents
perform on her back, the "Chinese word for the female I," and the last paragraph of the section.
"Night after night my mother would talk-story until we fell asleep," Kingston writes. "I couldn't tell where the
stories left and the dreams began, her voice the voice of the heroines in my sleep" (19). What is the significance
of this passage in relation to the novel itself?
Why do you suppose the notion of the woman warrior figures so prominently in Kingston's imagination?
How does the woman warrior develop? What does she learn to do?
Kingston writes: "Unlike tigers, dragons are so immense, I would never see one in its entirety" (28). How might
this statement serve as a metaphor for something larger or more significant than dragons?
The Woman Warrior: "Shaman"
Who are the ghosts Kingston describes in "Shaman," and why does she call them that? Why do ghosts play such
an important role in this section and in the book as a whole?
Analyze the description of Kingston's mother's life in China. In particular, what function does the discussion of
slaves serve? Why does Kingston envy her mother's slave?
How does Kingston depict her mother in this section? In what ways does this depiction fit in some of the book's
Why do you suppose Kingston includes so much information about food?
How would you describe Kingston's relationship with her mother?
The Woman Warrior: A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe
What does Kingston do to the little girl in the lavatory and why?
Kingston writes: "The other Chinese girls did not talk either, so I knew the silence had to do with being a
Chinese girl." Why the Chinese girls silent, and what are are the consequences of this silence?
What is the difference between the American and Chinese schools? Which do you think Kingston prefers?
How does Kingston react to her mother's order to demand candy from the druggist? Why? How is an
understanding of this incident central to an understanding of the book?
Analyze Kingston's assessment of her time in bed with a mysterious illness: "It was the best year and a half of my
life. Nothing happened."
"They would not tell us children," Kingston writes of the older Chinese, "because we had been born among
ghosts, were taught by ghosts, and were ourselves ghost-like. They called us a kind of ghost." What is the
significance of this passage?
How do you explain Kingston's urge to confess things to her mother?
Analyze Kingston's outburst among her family members. What is the source of her frustration? Why is the final
portion, in which she complains about talk-story, particularly significant?
How does Kingston characterize her own perspective on the world? How is it different from that of her mother
and other Chinese immigrants? What is the tone of Kingston's description of this perspective?
Analyze the importance of language in this section and in the entire book.
What is the significance of the final story?