Contrast of Materialism and Hedonism in Chapter 4 of "Woman Warrior" by Maxine Hong Kingston

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One of the most intriguing themes present in this chapter is the struggle between materialism and hedonism. The hedonists, Brave Orchid and Moon Orchid, believe in love, family, and pleasure. However, Moon Orchid's husband and Brave Orchid's children believe that material things bring pleasure and happiness. It is interesting to see how these two different viewpoints on happiness can split people so far apart, such as Brave Orchid and her children, as well as Moon Orchid and her husband.

The most apparent instance exemplifying Moon Orchid's husband's materialistic viewpoints can be seen when he was arguing with his heartbroken wife. "She has food. She has had servants. Her daughter went to college. There wasn't anything she thought of that she couldn't buy. I have been a good husband (153)." This horrid man believes that a husband's job is to only provide for his wife fiscally, rather that emotionally and spiritually.

In a marriage, the man and woman are supposed to be one, both providing for each other and always being there for one another. However, this husband believes that he has been a good husband because he provides material goods. This disturbing viewpoint has spilled over to Brave Orchid's children as well. "Brave Orchid told her children they must help her keep their father from marrying another woman becuase she didn't think she could take it any better than her sister...all her children made up their minds to major in science and mathematics (160)." In this quotation, Brave Orchid wants to be loved by her children, hoping that they will prevent her husband from remarrying. However, her children, being so absorbed in power and wealth through education dismiss their mother's wishes as preposterous. All these children do is study in hopes of becoming like Moon Orchid's husband - rich and...