PJAS 15 Spring-7

Klara Szmańko
“At the Western Palace”: The Dehumanization of Whiteness, Americanness, and Chinese-Americanness in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 15 (Spring 2021), pp. 105-116

Abstract: The dehumanization of whiteness in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior (1976) inheres in the overarching ghosthood metaphor. While first generation Chinese American immigrants in The Woman Warrior attribute the power of transforming people into ghosts to the United States of America as a country, the questioning of a person’s humanity by calling them a “ghost” is not reserved for white people alone. Chinese American immigrants also run the risk of losing their humanity and becoming ghosts if they renounce their relatives and their heritage. The husband of the first-person narrator’s Chinese aunt, Moon Orchid, is an example of a Chinese American man, who turns into a ghost on account of swapping his Chinese wife for a much younger American one. The clinic in which Moon Orchid’s husband works, a chrome and glass Los Angeles skyscraper, becomes a vehicle for the metaphoric representation of the United States as the Western Palace – also the title of the fourth of the five chapters of The Woman Warrior, exemplifying narrative techniques employed by Kingston in order to render the above mentioned dehumanization.

Keywords: Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior, point of view, narration, ghosts, whiteness, white Americans, Chinese Americans, Chinese immigrants, white people, barbarians, savages

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.15/1/2021.07

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