Essay title: Storytelling and Tradition a Comparison of Maus and the Woman Warrior
The culture of the groups of people in these stories, derive from their environment and also the tradition of their families.
The daughter in The Woman Warrior is a product of an American society, but she is taught by the person closest to her, her mother, ideas and values that contrast greatly with what the outside world is telling her. Her mother tells her stories that can hardly be determined as truth half the time, but all contain the messages derived of a strict Chinese culture. An example of how Brave Orchid’s culture clashes with American culture can be displayed by the time when she sends her daughter to the drug store to ask for candy as reparation, because a delivery boy came to their house with pills that were meant for a different Chinese family. Brave Orchid said to her daughter, “You get reparation candy.
You say, ‘You have tainted my house with sick medicine and must remove the curse with sweetness.’ He’ll understand.” Brave Orchid is used to a world where people try to make up for their mistakes even when they don’t have to rather than just ignoring the affects their mistakes have on others.
In Maus, Art’s father is not so much at odds culturally with the outside world, but his experiences are so much different that it is almost like he has his own culture that is understood only by those who survived the Holocaust. Vladek looks at things differently than most people. Vladek has seen things such as children being swung by the legs like baseball bats into a wall until they died. He has seen families ripped apart and countless cold-blooded murders. All of these things were caused by the Nazis.
You could say that the Nazi’s created Vledek’s culture for him. Vladek has seen the most evil and horrible capabilities of human beings. This sets him apart from most people.
This is what makes him cherish every piece of food on his plate at every meal and save every piece of rope or random junk that he finds, because he knows that if worse comes to worse again you have to be prepared. So, for the parents in these books, a dramatic past shapes their culture and this culture they pass on to their children through stories and tradition. Through the stories in this book, an identity is created in the characters, one that reflects their past.
In the case of Art Spiegelman and his father, their identities are that of a race that has incurred terrible tragedy. This fact is branded on them for life and it is a part of who they are. The Holocaust had a tremendous impact on Vladek, as did its story on Art. To survive an attempted genocide upon ones race would instill things like fear, hatred, and caution into ones identity. These traits can become a traditional presence in ones belief system by parents teaching their children these things.
To have your father go through the Holocaust would certainly affect the way you view the world and teach your children. I would think that distrust would be the most noticeably present trait in a Jewish person whose relatives were affected by the Holocaust. This distrust and any other Holocaust-generated traits will most likely continue to be passed on to future generations of Jews for years. In relation to The Woman Warrior, a cultural identity is passed down to a daughter from her mother through the mediums of storytelling and tradition. The girls’ mother is Brave Orchid. Brave Orchid is always telling her daughter stories that are often far fetched.
Whether they are real or not though, they tell of a culture far different from anything the daughter has ever witnessed in America. These stories give the daughter an identity that stems from traditional Chinese.