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The Woman Warrior

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Joel Jimenez
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The Woman Warrior


The Woman WarriorDay 1:OBJECTIVES 
  1. Close read a small passage of authentic literature.
  2. Practice and apply concrete strategies for condensing ideas.
  3. Participate in a small group discussion.
CA ELD Common Core Standards
Collaborative - ELD.PI.11-12.1.Em, ELD.PI.11-12.1.Ex, ELD.PI.11-12.1.Br
Interpretive - ELD.PI.11-12.5.Em, ELD.PI.11-12.5.Ex, ELD.PI.11-12.5.Br, ELD.PI.11-12.6.a.Em, ELD.PI.11-12.6.a.Ex, ELD.PI.11-12.6.a.Br, ELD.PI.11-12.6.c.Em, ELD.PI.11-12.6.c.Ex, ELD.PI.11-12.6.c.Br
Connecting and Condensing Ideas - ELD.PII.11-12.7.Em, ELD.PII.11-12.7.Ex, ELD.PII.11-12.7.Br
 TIME 40 minutes
 MATERIALS StudySync Close Re-read lesson on The Woman Warrior
StudySync Access 1 handout (Emerging)
StudySync Access 2 handout (Expanding)
StudySync Access 3 handout (Bridging)

In The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, author Maxine Hong Kingston explores her Chinese background and cultural heritage in a series of autobiographical stories about herself and her family members. The Re-read gives students the opportunity to more deeply evaluate the author's language choices, specifically in regard to condensing ideas to communicate thoughts and feelings.

Visual Vocabulary. 

As a class, review the words or phrases in the Visual Vocabulary exercise and introduce the definition for each:

  • concentration: the act of focusing all of your attention on one thing
  • scold: to express disapproval of someone's actions
  • hysterically: in an uncontrolled way
  • dutifully: in an obedient or willing way
  • abandon: to leave a place forever

Then, prompt students to act out the words or brainstorm examples. Begin by modeling the first word and example for the class:

  • ex) The first word is "concentration," and its meaning is "the act of focusing all of your attention on one thing."

After reviewing and brainstorming pantomimes or gestures for each vocabulary word, have students complete the Visual Vocabulary chart. When they are finished with the chart, have students record the words and definitions in their vocabulary notebooks.


Have students read and listen to the audio of paragraphs 1-15 of The Woman Warrior. Remind students that they can use the vocabulary exercise for support with unfamiliar words.


Ask students to discuss their feelings about or impressions of Brave Orchid based on what they have read so far in The Woman Warrior, focusing on the discussion skill of affirming or politely disagreeing with others. Have them work with partners or in small groups to practice sharing and discussing their impressions, using the discussion prompts in their Access Handouts. Circulate around the room to provide guidance and support.


Students will use the self-evaluation rubric in their Access Handouts to evaluate their own participation in the discussion. 

Model for students how to use the self-evaluation rubric to reflect on their discussion:

  • The first row says, "I expressed my impressions clearly." I'm going to think back on my discussion and ask myself if I did this well.
  • In the discussion with my small group, I believe I explained what I think about Brave Orchid, but I'm not sure that I explained why I think so. I could express my opinion more clearly in the future if I made sure to explain the "why" behind my ideas and opinions.
  • Because I did express my opinion, but I wasn't perfectly clear, I'm going to give myself a "3" for this skill. A "3" means that "I did this pretty well" but it reminds me that I could do better.



From Chapter Four: At the Western Palace

When she was about sixty-eight years old, Brave Orchid took a day off to wait at San Francisco International Airport for the plane that was bringing her sister to the United States. She had not seen Moon Orchid for thirty years. She had begun this waiting at home, getting up a half-hour before Moon Orchid’s plane took off in Hong Kong. Brave Orchid would add her will power to the forces that keep an airplane up. Her head hurt with the concentration. The plane had to be light, so no matter how tired she felt, she dared not rest her spirit on a wing but continuously and gently pushed up on the plane’s belly. She had already been waiting at the airport for nine hours. She was wakeful.

Next to Brave Orchid sat Moon Orchid’s only daughter, who was helping her aunt wait. Brave Orchid had made two of her own children come too because they could drive, but they had been lured away by the magazine racks and the gift shops and coffee shops. Her American children could not sit for very long. They did not understand sitting; they had wandering feet. She hoped they would get back from the pay TV’s or the pay toilets or wherever they were spending their money before the plane arrived. If they did not come back soon, she would go look for them. If her son thought he could hide in the men’s room, he was wrong.

“Are you all right, Aunt?” asked her niece.

“No, this chair hurts me. Help me pull some chairs together so I can put my feet up.”

She unbundled a blanket and spread it out to make a bed for herself. On the floor she had two shopping bags full of canned peaches, real peaches, beans wrapped in taro leaves, cookies, Thermos bottles, enough food for everybody, though only her niece would eat with her. Her bad boy and bad girl were probably sneaking hamburgers, wasting their money. She would scold them.

Many soldiers and sailors sat about, oddly calm, like little boys in cowboy uniforms. (She thought “cowboy” was what you would call a Boy Scout.) They should have been crying hysterically on their way to Vietnam. “If I see one that looks Chinese,” she thought, “I’ll go over and give him some advice.” She sat up suddenly; she had forgotten about her own son, who was even now in Vietnam. Carefully she split her attention, beaming half of it to the ocean, into the water to keep him afloat. He was on a ship. He was in Vietnamese waters. She was sure of it. He and the other children were lying to her. They had said he was in Japan, and then they said he was in the Philippines. But when she sent him her help, she could feel that he was on a ship in Da Nang. Also she had seen the children hide the envelopes that his letters came in.

“Do you think my son is in Vietnam?” she asked her niece, who was dutifully eating. “No. Didn’t your children say he was in the Philippines?”
“Have you ever seen any of his letters with Philippine stamps on them?”
“Oh, yes. Your children showed me one.”

“I wouldn’t put it past them to send the letters to some Filipino they know. He puts Manila postmarks on them to fool me.”
“Yes, I can imagine them doing that. But don’t worry. Your son can take care of himself. All your children can take care of themselves.”

“Not him. He’s not like other people. Not normal at all. He sticks erasers in his ears, and the erasers are still attached to the pencil stubs. The captain will say, ‘Abandon ship,’ or ‘Watch out for bombs,’ and he won’t hear. He doesn’t listen to orders. I told him to flee to Canada, but he wouldn’t go.”

She closed her eyes. After a short while, plane and ship under control, she looked again at the children in uniforms. Some of the blond ones looked like baby chicks, their crew cuts like the downy yellow on baby chicks. You had to feel sorry for them even though they were Army and Navy Ghosts.

Suddenly her son and daughter came running. “Come, Mother. The plane’s landed early. She’s here already.” They hurried, folding up their mother’s encampment. She was glad her children were not useless. They must have known what this trip to San Francisco was about then. “It’s a good thing I made you come early,” she said.

She was a tiny, tiny lady, very thin, with little fluttering hands, and her hair was in a gray knot. She was dressed in a gray wool suit; she wore pearls around her neck and in her earlobes. Moon Orchid would travel with her jewels showing. Brave Orchid momentarily saw, like a larger, younger outline around this old woman, the sister she had been waiting for. The familiar dim halo faded, leaving the woman so old, so gray. So old. Brave Orchid pressed against the glass. That old lady? Yes, that old lady facing the ghost who stamped her papers without questioning her was her sister. Then, without noticing her family, Moon Orchid walked smiling over to the Suitcase Inspector Ghost, who took her boxes apart, pulling out puffs of tissue. From where she was, Brave Orchid could not see what her sister had chosen to carry across the ocean. She wished her sister would look her way. Brave Orchid thought that if she were entering a new country, she would be at the windows. Instead Moon Orchid hovered over the unwrapping, surprised at each reappearance as if she were opening presents after a birthday party.

“Mama!” Moon Orchid’s daughter kept calling. Brave Orchid said to her children, “Why don’t you call your aunt too? Maybe she’ll hear us if all of you call out together.” But her children slunk away. Maybe that shame-fame they so often wore was American politeness.

“Mama!” Moon Orchid’s daughter called again, and this time her mother looked right at her. She left her bundles in a heap and came running. “Hey!” the Customs Ghost yelled at her. She went back to clear up her mess, talking inaudibly to her daughter all the while. Her daughter pointed toward Brave Orchid. And at last Moon Orchid looked at her—two old women with faces like mirrors.

Their hands reached out as if to touch the other’s face, then returned to their own, the fingers checking the grooves in the forehead and along the sides of the mouth. Moon Orchid, who never understood the gravity of things, started smiling and laughing, pointing at Brave Orchid. Finally Moon Orchid gathered up her stuff, strings hanging and papers loose, and met her sister at the door, where they shook hands, oblivious to blocking the way.

“You’re an old woman,” said Brave Orchid.
“Aiaa. You’re an old woman.”
“But you are really old. Surely, you can’t say that about me. I’m not old the way you’re old.” “But you really are old. You’re one year older than I am.”
“Your hair is white and your face all wrinkled.”
“You’re so skinny.”

“You’re so fat.”

“Fat women are more beautiful than skinny women.”

The children pulled them out of the doorway. One of Brave Orchid’s children brought the car from the parking lot, and the other heaved the luggage into the trunk. They put the two old ladies and the niece in the back seat. All the way home—across the Bay Bridge, over the Diablo hills, across the San Joaquin River to the valley, the valley moon so white at dusk—all the way home, the two sisters exclaimed every time they turned to look at each other, “Aiaa! How old!”

Brave Orchid forgot that she got sick in cars, that all vehicles but palanquins made her dizzy. “You’re so old,” she kept saying. “How did you get so old?”

Brave Orchid had tears in her eyes. But Moon Orchid said, “You look older than I. You are older than I,” and again she’d laugh. “You’re wearing an old mask to tease me.” It surprised Brave Orchid that after thirty years she could still get annoyed at her sister’s silliness. 



Access 1Re-read: The Woman WarriorMeaningful Interaction 
Based on what you have read in this excerpt from The Woman Warrior, what are your impressions of Brave Orchid? Do you think she is strange or inconsiderate? Or do you think the way she behaves is humorous and relatable? Work in a small group to practice sharing and discussing your impressions, using the word bank and discussion prompts below. Then, use the self-evaluation rubric to evaluate your participation in the discussion. 

Word Bank

strange: unfamiliar or different
humorous: funny or entertaining
relatable: familiar or understandable
inconsiderate: thoughtless or uncaring
strict: demanding that people follow rules
old-fashioned: following the ways of the past
superstitious: having belief in the supernatural
sympathetic: feeling concern or understanding
Discussion Sentence Frames: Self-assessment rubric 
I did this well.3
I did this pretty well.2
I did this a little bit.1
I did not do this.I expressed my impressions clearly.    I listened carefully to others' ideas.    I spoke respectfully when disagreeing with others.    

I was courteous when persuading others to share my view.


Day 2:

Watch the movie, 'Crazy, Rich, Asians' in class.  Students will use cornell notes to take notes about the film that they will use for the next Lesson.





Mr. Jimenez




































Key Vocabulary words and phrases:









Day 3:

Compare the character of 'Brave Orchid' in 'The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts' to that of the Grandmother of Nick Young.  Students will create a Venn Diagram and list of VIP (Very Important Points) and characteristics for each person.  This graphic organizer will show the differences between the two characters.  In the center circle, students will list similarties that Brave Orchid and Nick's grandmother have.  Then students will share and discuss in groups of 3, the characteristics that they came up with.  After sharing in groups, who class discussion with commence.    They will repeat this process for the niece of Brave Orchid and for Nick Young.

Finally, students will list their own generational and cultural differences from that of their parents and compare what they listed to the characters from the short story and film.

In conclusion, students will write a 2 paragraph reflection analyzing both Venn Diagrams as well as their own generational difference with their parents answering the target question: Why do values, morals and traditional practices differ from one generation to the next?