The Power of Words in "Woman Warrior" by Maxine Hong Kingston

Essay by omniromHigh School, 12th gradeA-, September 2006

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" A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword."

-Robert Burton

Words truly are some of the most powerful weapons in the world. The age-old saying, "sticks nad stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me," is one of the most false proverbs in history. For instance, recently there has been a fanatic debate about the inclusion of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, for many Americans feel that is is wrong to have religious figure included in part of our nation's oath. Many argue that there is supposed to be a separation of church and state, but aren't words just words? Don't these intangible objects have no strength? Maxine Kingston pursues a verbal battle for civil rights while fighting the notion that words carry no weight in society.

Although the Fa Mu Lan had magical powers that Maxine can only dream of, Maxine, ironically, can fight a much greater battle.

"The idioms for revenge are 'report a crime' and 'report to five families.' The reporting is the vengeance - not the beheading, not the gutting, but the words. And I have so many words - 'chink' words and 'gook' words too - that they do not fit on my skin (53)." Maxine Kingston is writing The Woman Warrior to bring awareness to her cause and rally a giant army of followers to support her cause for justice. She wants to rid the world of racism, sexism, and poverty through the power of words. Just as Fa Mu Lan succeeded in beheading the baron, Maxine too will surely prevail.

A second instance portraying the incredible power of words can be seen during the beheadings of the baron's officials. "There was one last-minute reprieve of a bodyguard when a witness shouted...