The Woman Warrior


Maxine Hong Kingston

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The Slave Girl Character Analysis

– A sixteen-year-old girl Brave Orchid bought from Canton market shortly after she became a doctor. Brave Orchid recalls that the girl had a “strong heart” which “sounded like thunder within the earth, sending its power into her fingertips.” Brave Orchid tells her daughters that she “would not have sold a daughter such as that one.” Brave Orchid recalls the girl’s quickness, and her ability to write a word from memory without leaving out “a single stroke.” Brave Orchid tested the girl’s quickness with a series of riddles and a question about weaving. Brave Orchid pretended to be dissatisfied with the girl’s answers so that she could buy her for a lower price, and the girl, instinctively playing along, pretended to know less about weaving so that she could be sold to Brave Orchid at the asking price. Brave Orchid buys the girl and decides to train her to be her nurse. Kingston notes that her mother’s enthusiasm for her own daughter is duller than that for the slave girl whom she bought for fifty dollars. Brave Orchid notes that she paid the doctor two hundred dollars to give birth to Kingston who, it seems, she perceives as less useful and less dutiful. Kingston’s younger sister, also sensing her mother’s favor for the slave girl, said, “When I grow up, I want to be a slave,” a confession that both amuses and pleases her parents.

The Slave Girl Quotes in The Woman Warrior

The The Woman Warrior quotes below are all either spoken by The Slave Girl or refer to The Slave Girl. 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.
3. Shaman Quotes

My mother’s enthusiasm for me is duller than for the slave girl; nor did I replace the older brother and sister who died while they were still cuddly. Throughout my childhood my younger sister said, “When I grow up, I want to be a slave,” and my parents laughed, encouraging her.

Related Characters: Maxine Hong Kingston (speaker), Brave Orchid, The Slave Girl
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Slave Girl Character Timeline in The Woman Warrior

The timeline below shows where the character The Slave Girl appears in The Woman Warrior. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
3. Shaman
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon buy one from a professional whose girls were neatly arranged. She stopped at a slave girl “whose strong heart sounded like thunder within the earth.” Brave Orchid put the girl through... (full context)
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Kingston notes that her mother seems more grateful for having had the slave girl than for having had her own daughters. Kingston’s younger sister, sensing this favoritism, said that... (full context)