Analysis of the image of the ghost in The Woman Warrior

2011-04-24 看过
    教授给我们布置的group essay, 希望对留学生有点用.

Analysis of the image of the ghost in The Woman Warrior

    Stories about ghosts are one of the most important features of this novel. Maxine searches through her family’s past, and other stories which are also ridden with ghosts, in hopes of finding a role model. The importance of ghosts in the story, and in Maxine’s life is represented by the book’s subtitle "Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts."
    There are thousands of ghost stories in Chinese culture. The novel Journey to the West, which is one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, is full of ghosts, most of which are evil, and eat people. The novel Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, which is a collection of nearly five-hundred mostly-supernatural tales written by Pu Songlin, is also full of ghosts, though most of them are warm and kind-hearted. Not all ghosts were evil in Chinese culture, and literature.
        The image of the ghost in Chinese culture changes with the given circumstances. Ghosts could be, ethereal beings who still dwell in our world, memories, or even real people. When the western powers invaded in 1860, they ended up holding power in China for almost a hundred years. At that time, the Chinese used “ghost” as a derogatory term for the invaders; they called European invaders "west foreign ghosts,” and Japanese invaders as "east foreign ghosts.” That’s how real people became referred to as ghosts. Maxine uses this terminology to refer to some Americans who would come up to the door of her house. She called them ghosts, even though they were real, palpable beings, not a faded memory or ethereal entity.
        The thought of the ghost of her nameless aunt haunts Maxine in the beginning of the story. The first sentence of the chapter "No Name Woman" is "you must not tell anyone.” Her mother told her this, even though she herself is breaking her husbands rule, which is to not speak of the aunt. Her aunt is the victim of traditional chinese culture, where men really held the power. Her aunt committed suiced with her new born baby after the villagers raided her house. From then on, the family of the Maxine tries to “forget” about the aunt. Though, the family is not entirely successful in wiping her from their minds. "My aunt haunts me-- her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her, though not origamied into houses and clothes. I do not think she always means me well. I am telling on her, and she was a spite suicide, drowning herself in the drinking water. The Chinese are always very frightened of the drowned one, whose weeping ghost, wet hair hanging and skin bloated, waits silently by the water to pull down a substitute" (Kingston 16). However, in the eyes of the Maxine, her aunt is somewhat of a role model, because though she wasn’t successful in the end, she still fought against fate, and traditional culture. Her aunt protested with committed suicide in the village well, so she in turn became the role model of protesting traditional culture. Maxine uses her writing to avenge her aunt. In Chinese tradition, the ghost who has avenged could finish the reincarnation.
     "We could be heroines, swordsmen"( page 18). In chapter 2, the story of Fa Mu Lan is totally different from the traditional Chinese story. The purpose of changing the story is drawing a new image of the woman warrior so that is the same as Maxine imagines it. When Fa Mu Lan studies the fighting skills in mountains for 15 years ; she finishes studying, constructs an army, kill the greedy officials, and avenges the villagers. The interesting part in this chapter is that Fa Mu Lan becomes the ghost. "It was a wedding. My mother was talking to the hosts: 'Thank you for taking our daughter. Wherever she is, she must be happy now. She will certainly come back if she is alive, and if she is a spirit, you have given her a descent line” (Kingston 31). In the Chinese culture, a "ghost wedding" is a way to comfort the relatives with an early death, then organize for them in the form of a ghost marriage.
      In chapter 3, more and more ghosts are described in the novel. The environment in which Maxine lived is full of white people. "We were regularly visited by the Mail Ghost, Meter Reader Ghost, Garbage Ghost. Staying off the streets did no good. They came nosing at windows- Social Worker Ghosts; Public Health Nurse Ghosts; Factory Ghosts recruiting workers during the war( they promised free child care, which our mother turned down); two Jesus Ghost who had formerly worked in China." All the information provided by Maxine’s parents about the white people is bad. Because the first generation chinese tries to keep their culture in the small range, isolated with the outer world. However, paradoxically, when Maxine's mother keep telling the stories about the ghost, she tried to instill the idea of traditional Chinese. However, what Maxine's mother did is totally different. Studying in medicine school, catching the ghost in dormitory, reuniting with her husband in U.S, telling the story about the no name aunt to Maxine and encouraging Moon Orchid come to U.S, even mother's name, Brave Orchid, has the same pronunciation with Fa Mu Lan in Chinese. All these things tells Maxine that her mother is a real woman warrior. When Maxine was hearing the stories about the ghost, she tried to resist the influence of these traditional Chinese culture. Finally, she uses her pen to express her new ideology, which is the common ideology in American Born Chinese.
       Ghost is just a carrier, it represented the traditional chinese culture. Maxine finally beat it down. She uses her writing to set a new model in American Born Chinese.
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