No Name Woman - Language and Narrative Voice

Language and Narrative Voice

The language of The Woman Warrior invokes a complex juxtaposition of cultural and linguistic voices. Kingston tries to capture and emulate the nuances of Chinese speech through her prose. Trying to transmit a Sinitic language by means of an Indo-European language was no easy task, and one that Kingston had to pursue actively. Nevertheless, The Woman Warrior is not pure talk-story. There is in fact a blending of first, second, and third person narration. The first-person narration of Kingston is her own American voice, the second-person is that of the Chinese talk-story, and the third-person (which only appears in “At the Western Palace”) is a mixture; a talk-story transposed from Kingston’s Chinese parents to her American siblings, and finally back to Kingston herself. What results from this combination of voices can only be described as a “fusion language” unique to Kingston, almost like her own type of Creole language.

Writing in this “fusion language,” which is an American language with Asian tones and accents, or rhythm, is a way that Kingston brings together Chinese and Western experiences. This “melding” of the two experiences –the images and metaphors—is what makes Kingston’s style her own. Kingston admits that one of the ways she works to bring these two together is to speak Chinese while writing or typing in English.

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