Change in Maxine’s mother

December 5, 2010

I wasn’t sure if you wanted us to discuss the change in Maxine’s mother, also known as “Brave Orchid” in the novel, in the two chapters or how she changed from the beginning of the novel.

I noticed a difference in Brave orchid in her personality compared to that of the first two chapters. In “Shaman” I think this is were her change becomes evident. She mentions going to medical school and only having to be worried about her self after her two first children have died, this is where her change comes about. In medical school she is able to escape most of the typical woman role in Chinese culture and she does not have to plow or fetch things for her mother-in -law and she is responsible for only her self.   When she returns to her village is where you see the change cause by medical school and independence, she becomes just like the Chinese men and culture and thinks of women on a lower scale and sort of worthless. She complains shortly in this chapter about paying $200 dollars for Maxine’s birth when they were giving out slave-nurses for free, she thinks of the money as a waste because she could have gotten a free girl if she wanted to. I think this change is caused by medical school because when she returns to her village is when she is treated as a “shaman” because she can cure people and supposedly get rid of ghost.

You also notice her change in “At the Western Palace”. When her sister Moon Orchid arrives, Brave Orchid complains about her being worthlessness because she is unable to do simple house work such as folding the laundry. Brave Orchid or Maxine’s mother is drastically different. in the previous chapters  she tells Maxine stories of female empower ment such as “Fa Mu Lan”, but then then in these two chapters a woman’s worth to her is house work and her own daughter is not worth $200 because she could have gotten a slave-nurse for free. Maxine’s mother changed by going back to the typical Chinese views of a woman’s worth.


I noticed in the chapter “At the Western Palace” Moon Orchid’s husband left her in china and started a new family in America and has success. This immediately brought “Drown” to my mind. I recall in “Drown” the father leaves his wife and children in the Dominican republic to start a new family in America, although he eventually reconnected with his first wife it had me thinking. In these cultures where woman are thought of as less valuable then men why is it that the man cannot survive without the woman and the woman is the key to his success. Both  men immigrate to America and both men find a women and start a new family before having success, so who’s really worth what is the question.

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