Essay title : Dependency: women's weakness; Book title: The Woman Warrior; Book author: Maxine Hong Kingston

Essay by loann March 2004

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In Kingston's novel, The Woman Warrior, Kingston presents mothers, aunts, daughters, and woman warriors with different characteristics and styles of life, even the bravest women in her novel, Brave Orchid and Fa Mu Lan are held accountable of weaknesses. Kingston takes the reader deep into each individual's personal story and experiences to prove that all women are feeble. By showing the bravest women to have weaknesses, Kingston reveals that women hold a dependency towards other beings or substances.

Brave Orchid is introduced as an intelligent doctor, different from the other Chinese women in her village who sit at home cleaning and nursing their babies. Brave Orchid does not have a husband in China to be that strong someone to depend upon; she supports herself mentally and emotionally, and is viewed as an independent character. But as the reader learns more of Brave Orchid's ways, an invisible mask of power is lifted, leaving a woman who embodies countless weaknesses.

Brave Orchid, known to be the smartest and most fearless in To Keung School, becomes a victim of fear. After facing the sitting ghost, part of her soul leaves her body: the fear inside her is greater than her bravery. Her friends chant for her to "come home...[to] return to [them]." This incident shows that even the heroic Brave Orchid did not hold the power to defeat the Sitting Ghost completely. Among these unique women who dare to receive an education in a society that discourages this act, the most courageous lacks the will power to maintain composure when faced by a ghost.

All her life, Brave Orchid was the one who supported the family; she had the "big muscles". Many might look in awe at an old woman still working at the age of 80, picking tomatoes and washing...