Monday, July 19, 2004

The Woman Warrior

Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior
A concoction of reality, fantasy, folk-tale, history, memoir; above all, a prose-poem in five stanzas. Most infuriating are the accounts of harsh, unrelenting abuse heaped on Chinese girls for their main fault: not being boys.
We had three girl second cousins, no boys; their great-grandfather was the old man who lived with them, as the river-pirate great-uncle was the old man who lived with us. When my sisters and I ate at their house, there we would be--six girls eating. The old man opened his eyes wide at us and turned in a circle, surrounded. His neck tendons stretched out. "Maggots! Where are my grandsons? I want grandsons! Give me grandsons! Maggots!" He pointed at each one of us, "Maggot! Maggot! Maggot! Maggot! Maggot! Maggot!" Then he dived into his food, eating fast and getting seconds. "Eat, maggots," he said. "Look at the maggots chew."

"He does this at every meal," the girls told us in English.

"Yeah," we said. "Our old man hates us too."

[originally posted July 16, 2004]


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