Quotes from The Woman Warrior

Maxine Hong Kingston ·  204 pages

Rating: (20.6K votes)


“I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“You're too young to decide to live forever.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“I'm going away anyway. I am. Do you hear me? I may be ugly and clumsy, but one thing I am not, I'm not retarded. I may be ugly and clumsy, but one thing I am not, I'm not retarded. There's nothing wrong with my brain. Do you know what the Teacher Ghosts say about me? They tell me I'm smart, and I can win scholarships. I can get into colleges. I've already applied. I'm smart. I can do all sorts of things. I know how to get A's, and they say I could be a scientist or a mathematician if I want. I can make a living and take care of myself. So you don't have to find me a keeper who's too dumb to know a bad bargain. I'm so smart, if they say write ten pages, I can write fifteen. I can do ghost things even better than ghosts can. Not everyone thinks I'm nothing. I am not going to be a slave or a wife. Even if I am stupid and talk funny amd get sick, I won't let you turn me into a slave or a wife. I'm getting out of here. I can't stand living here anyore. It's your fault I talk weird.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“We're all under the same sky and walk the same earth; we're alive together during the same moment.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“Long ago in China, knot-makers tied string into buttons and frogs, and rope into bell pulls. There was one knot so complicated that it blinded the knot-maker. Finally an emperor outlawed this cruel knot, and the nobles could not order it anymore. If I had lived in China, I would have been an outlaw knot-maker.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior



“Hunger also changes the world—when eating can't be a habit, than neither can seeing.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“Not many women got to live out the daydream of women—to have a room, even a section of a room, that only gets messed up when she messes it up herself.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“I may be ugly and clumsy, but one thing I'm not, I'm not retarded.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“My mother has told me once and for all the useful parts. She will add nothing unless powered by necessity, a riverbank that guides her life. She plants vegetable gardens rather than lawns; she carries the odd-shaped tomatoes home from the field and eats food left for the gods.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“Nobody supports me at the expense of his own adventure. Then I get bitter: I am not loved enough to be supported. That I am not a burden has to compensate for the sad envy when I look at women loved enough to be supported. Even now China wraps double binds around my feet.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior



“When you raise girls, you're raising children for strangers.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“The work of preservation demands that the feelings playing about in one's guts not be turned into action. Just watch their passing like cherry blossoms.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“You must not tell anyone, what I am about to tell you.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“Deny accidents and wrest fault from the stars.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“She was one of the stars, a bright dot in blackness, without home, without a companion, in eternal cold and silence.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior



“Those of us in the first American generations have had to figure out how the invisible world the emigrants built around our childhoods fits in solid America.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“And I had to get out of hating range.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“Mothers who love their children take them along.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“If you should decide during your old age that you would like to live another five hundred years, come here and drink ten pounds of this sap,” they told me. “But don’t do it now. You’re too young to decide to live forever.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“In America my mother has eyes as strong as boulders, never once skittering off a face, but she has not learned to place decorations and phonograph needles, nor has she stopped seeing land on the other side of the oceans. Now her eyes include the relatives in China, as they once included my father smiling and smiling in his many western outfits, a different one for each photograph that he sent from America. (1983: 59)”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior



“Human beings don't work like this in China. Time goes slower there. Here we have to hurry, feed the hungry children before we're too old to work. I feel like a mother cat hunting for its kittens. She has to find them fast because in a few hours she will forget how to count or that she had any kittens at all. I can't sleep in this country because it doesn't shut down for the night. Factories, canneries, restaurants - always somebody somewhere working through the night. It never gets done all at once here. Time was different in China. One year lasted as long as my total time here; one evening so long, you could visit your women friends, drink tea, and play cards at each house, and it would still be twilight. It even got boring, nothing to do but fan ourselves. Here midnight comes and the floor's not swept, the ironing's not ready, the money's not made. I would be still young if we lived in China. (1983: 98)”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“No husband of mine will say, “I could have been a drummer, but I had to think about the wife and kids. You know how it is.” Nobody supports me at the expense of his own adventure. Then I get bitter: no one supports me.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“As they walked back to the laundry, Brave Orchid showed her sister where to buy the various groceries and how to avoid Skid Row. "On days when you are not feeling safe, walk around it. But you can walk through it unharmed on your strong days." On weak days you notice bodies on the sidewalk, and you are visible to Panhandler Ghosts and Mugger Ghosts.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“For hours she lay on the ground, alternately body and space. Sometimes a vision of normal comfort obliterated reality:”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“The Revolution put an end to prostitution by giving women what they wanted: a job and a room of their own. (1983: 61)”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior



“The villagers were speeding up the circling of events because she was too shortsighted to see that her infidelity had already harmed the village, the waves of consequences would return unpredictably, sometimes in disguise, as now, to hurt her. This roundness had to be made coin-sized so that she would see is circumference: punish her at the birth of her baby. Awaken her to the inexorable. People who refused fatalism because they could invent small resources insisted on culpability. Deny accidents and wrest fault from the stars.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“But the men—hungry, greedy, tired of planting in dry soil—had been forced to leave the village in order to send food-money home.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“The black well of sky and stars went out and out and out forever; her body and her complexity seemed to disappear.”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


“When these pictures burst, the stars drew yet further apart. Black space opened. She got to her feet to fight better”
― Maxine Hong Kingston, quote from The Woman Warrior


About the author

Maxine Hong Kingston
Born place: in Stockton, California, The United States
Born date October 27, 1940
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