Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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This article discusses the construction of Chinese-American identity in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. Kingston's book reveals the role of story-telling in the construction of ethnic (and gendered) identity as the author narrates her personal experiences through the reconstruction of myths, legends, and 'talk stories' she inherited from her mother. The method Kingston uses to make sense of these stories is that of translation. Translation refers to a performance of ethnic and gendered identity in Kingston's narrative. Here the complex identity known as Chinese-American is not an accumulation of discrete, distinct cultures, "Chinese and American', As a result of translating between these different positions, Chinese-American in Kingston's. The Woman Warrior designates a new identity, one that exposes the fictions of any closed categories, either Chinese or American. This process of self-definition is represented in terms of Kingston's rewriting of stories of her ethnic culture in an attempt to reclaim them as her own and to make their meaning relevant to her American context. This Chinese-American identity as a product of discursive practice transcends the monolithic conception of Chinese and American cultures. It is in Kingston's struggle to find her own voice that she tentatively combines the two cultures and reconciles herself with her mother.

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