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A Woman’s Worth

As I’m reading through pages of ” The Woman Warrior,” I begin to ask myself if there are any connections between the different stories we have been reading throughout the semester. At first I am thinking too in detail, and I think NO, what does Obama have to do with Maxine? Or Drown with Persepolis? But I then begin to look at the bigger picture…And then it hits me!! Um hello!?? Of course there’s a connection, a cultural one. We have been given a taste of different society’s, cultures, and difference ethnicity’s, in each individual text. Each one different, but interesting in its own particular way.

So as I’m trying to dissect the different pieces being thrown at me,  I begin to think about the role of women in Chinese society. The lack of freedom, the voice that isn’t heard, traditions that can’t be broken.  I am speechless at the idea that the “No-Name Woman” is labeled this way, as if she was a piece of object. Well,not even an object, because every “object” is labeled with a name. The idea of her killing herself and her illegitimate child makes me both angry and sad. To think that DEATH was her only escape leaves me speechless. What a cruel life!! What a cruel society!!  But then I realize,  death was the only way for her to escape from the misery of life that she would have continued living. She knew that her child would go through the same thing and she didn’t want that. Perhaps she was also scared that she would have gotten killed regardless, so she took a step ahead. Regardless, her death becomes symbolic because it actually represents gaining back her life.

Ohh and then I become angry again, at the fact that Maxine cannot ask about her no-named aunt. The story was only given to her to teach as a lesson. Since Maxine has hit puberty, her mother has to warn her to not make the same mistake that her aunt made.   But Maxine is such an intelligent and creative character. She doesn’t just treat the story as a lesson to herself, but rather reflects on what it means. She tries to identify herself with her aunt, and what she has gone through. She even manages to reject the idea that her aunt was at fault which demonstrates how strong of a “woman” Maxine is. She is not scared to let her mind wander, she is not scared to have a voice, she is not afraid to go against the norms.

And now to the quote we were asked to analyze; “The swordswoman and I are not so dissimilar.” This is both a powerful and symbolic line in many ways. Maxine  is seeing herself as Fa Mu Lan, the warrior, because she has a living warrior inside of her. Maxine is not satisfied with the way her culture runs things, but unlike Fa Mu Lan, she is helpless. Fa Mu Lan has been tattooed( literally) and Maxine has been tattooed with Chinese stories from a very young age, that technically have been tattooed into her brain. The difference though, between both these women, is that Fa Mu Lan’s battle is only temporary, since she can always return home. On the other hand, Maxine’s struggle is a never ending one.

They are so similar yet so different. I am eager to see how this wonderful story evolves, and  I hope I come to understand the purpose of the author’s narrative. Was it to teach us a lesson? To enable a warrior in us? Or was it a form of liberation for her?

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~ by Jessica Ruiz on December 2, 2010.

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