The Woman Warrior

by

Maxine Hong Kingston

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Also referred to as Brave Orchid’s husband. He is usually discussed in relation to the women in his life—Kingston, who is his eldest living daughter, Brave Orchid, and his unmentionable sister, No Name Woman. He is never referred to in the narrative by his given name. He smuggled himself to the United States via Cuba. When he was finally granted entry, he worked in a laundry in New York City. After saving enough money, he sent for Brave Orchid in 1939. The couple then moved to California, where they owned and operated a family-run laundry, which was later razed to put up a parking lot. Kingston’s father retired after this.

Father Quotes in The Woman Warrior

The The Woman Warrior quotes below are all either spoken by Father or refer to Father. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Woman Warrior published in 1989.
1. No Name Woman Quotes

They expected her alone to keep the traditional ways, which her brothers, now among the barbarians, could fumble without detection. The heavy, deep-rooted women were to maintain the past against the flood, safe for returning. But the rare urge west had fixed upon our family, and so my aunt crossed boundaries not delineated in space.

Related Characters: Maxine Hong Kingston (speaker), Old Man and Old Woman, Father
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
3. Shaman Quotes

Whenever my parents said “home,” they suspended America. They suspended enjoyment, but I did not want to go to China. In China my parents would sell my sisters and me. My father would marry two or three more wives, who would spatter cooking oil on our bare toes and lie that we were crying for naughtiness. They would give food to their own children and rocks to us. I did not want to go where the ghosts took shapes nothing like our own.

Related Characters: Maxine Hong Kingston (speaker), Brave Orchid, Father
Related Symbols: Ghosts
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

“This is a terrible ghost country, where a human being works her life away,” she said. “Even the ghosts work, no time for acrobatics. I have not stopped working since the day the ship landed. I was on my feet the moment the babies were out. In China I never even had to hang up my own clothes. I shouldn’t have left, but your father couldn’t have supported you without me. I’m the one with the big muscles.”

Related Characters: Brave Orchid (speaker), Maxine Hong Kingston, Father
Related Symbols: Ghosts
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
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Father Character Timeline in The Woman Warrior

The timeline below shows where the character Father appears in The Woman Warrior. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. No Name Woman
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Silence vs. Speech Theme Icon
Brave Orchid, Maxine Hong Kingston’s mother, tells her that her father had a sister who drowned herself in the family well. The family claims that Kingston’s... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
All of No Name Woman’s brothers, including Kingston’s father, “became western men.” When the family’s goods were divided, three brothers took the land and... (full context)
2. White Tigers
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Kingston / Fa Mu Lan's father announces that he has been drafted. She insists that she will take his place. Her... (full context)
3. Shaman
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
...to pose like Girl Graduate.” Kingston contrasts her mother’s image with early photos of her father in America, “in bathing suits at Coney Island beach” or posing “in the cockpit of... (full context)
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Brave Orchid left her village by ship, just as Kingston’s father had, and moved into a dormitory with five other women. She left most of her... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
To make up for not having the best memory—unlike Kingston’s father, who could recite entire poems—Brave Orchid did a lot of “secret studying.” She was older,... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
Before moving to the Bronx, where Kingston’s father was living, Brave Orchid worked in her village, yanking bones straight and delivering babies “in... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
...and a beard, and was clothed “in a brown burlap rice sack.” If Brave Orchid’s father had not brought Third Wife, a black woman, back from the West, Brave Orchid may... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Brave Orchid was living in the mountains with other refugees when Kingston’s father had finally saved enough money to send Brave Orchid travel fare to New York. It... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
...feared that once they were back in China, her parents would sell her, or her father would marry two or three more women who would spatter cooking oil on the children’s... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
...the laundry, but they could not start over. Neither wanted to stop working, though Kingston’s father is now retired. Brave Orchid calls the United States “a terrible ghost country” where one... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
...forty years. The last of Kingston’s uncles was killed. The villagers wrote to ask Kingston’s father if they could take over the family’s land, and he agreed. Brave Orchid insists that... (full context)
4. At the Western Palace
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
Back at Brave Orchid’s home, Moon Orchid greeted Kingston’s father, the scholar whom she had once regarded as an “ideal in masculine beauty.” Moon Orchid... (full context)
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
Brave Orchid told her children that they must never allow their father to marry another woman. She did not believe that she could handle it any better... (full context)
5. A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Silence vs. Speech Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
On the other hand, Kingston contemplates the loudness of the Chinese. Her father once wondered if he could hear Chinese people talking “from blocks away” because he understood... (full context)