Storytelling Essay, Research Paper


Sophia Chen

Ecomp 100

Essay #5

24 Oct 1996

Storytelling has helped humankind evolve into a wiser species by

allowing those with enough attentiveness and intelligence to learn from the

mistakes of their predecessors. The Chinese culture, like many others world

wide, base their beliefs largely on stories passed down from generation to

generation. Because stories are told and retold, alterations and even new

versions appear. Such is the case in ” Fa Mu Lan,” for more than one version is

known to exist to this day. Many times the changes in a story are to put its

message on a certain level for an individual to understand. If the change is to

keep the message updated with society, the version would be a modernized one.

These stories affect the stories with a flavor of their own personal character.

In The Woman Warrior Maxine Hong Kingston utilizes stories told to her by her

mother as a device to introduce readers to some aspect of her life. Kingston’s

mother pass down to her the wisdom she has acquired from her mistakes throughout

her life along with best hopes and wishes.

The Woman Warrior is a story about the life of Maxine Hong Kingston. It is

easy to see her identity from those memorable occurrences that she mentions

throughout her book, especially the stories her mother told her. The story of

“Fa Mu Lan”, for example, teaches women to strive to be the best they can be.

It is a story about a woman warrior who takes place of her father in battle and

returns in victory as a heroine. It evidently shows that her mother tells this

story with her sincerest hopes and passions for her. Her mother wishes her to

become more than what it was hope for . Even though woman in old China only

grow up to be wives and slaves, she hopes and even dilutions of grandeurs for

her daughters thrive in their hearts. Story-telling has been an essential part

of their childhood.

Maxine Hong Kingston was told that her aunt who committed adultery and

brought shame, bad luck along with destruction to her family. She committed

suicide because she could not face their families not tell who the father of the

children is. The shame brought about by the incident was too much for her to

bare. The story was told to warn the girls from having a child before getting

married, as can be arrived at from this statement in The Woman Warrior: ”

Whenever she [her mother] had to warn us about life, my mother told stories that

ran like this one, a story to grow up on. She tested out strength to establish

realities”(Kingston 5) referring to her aunt. Hong did not reveal the father of

her daughter, possibly a rape or a forbidden love. From the story, the listener

can examine those mistakes make by the earlier generation and avoid possible

similar situations.

The Woman Warrior is a book about lives of Chinese American women, their

struggles, hardships, hopes and joy. Hong’s story, however focuses on the

stories her mother had told her in her youth. Hong tell these stories to shed

light on the Chinese culture, mind set, etiquette. This is a book of the

bibliography of a woman through the ups and downs of her mothers tales. She

provided the reader and opportunity to experience those same stories that

affected her so much in her childhood.

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