The Woman Warrior – Moon Orchid

Moon Orchid is probably the only other fully realized character in The Woman Warrior, although she appears in only one chapter. Pretty, weak and uncoordinated—in her sisters words, “useless”—Moon Orchid plays foil to Brave Orchids force of personality, determination, and ability. Moon Orchid is also an effective contrast to her Chinese-American nieces and nephews, whom she follows around the house observing their everyday actions and foibles. She and the children are so different from each other in language and age and culture that they almost appear to each other like different species.
Like her sister, Moon Orchid represents the ridiculousness of clinging to Chinese customs and traditions in California. The scene in which she and Brave Orchid hatch plans to surprise her husband is as funny as it is sad, and the outcome of the encounter is disastrous. Afterward, when Moon Orchid tries to live on her own in Los Angeles, she proves wholly unable to adjust to American life and slowly goes insane, having paranoid delusions about Mexicans trying to kill her. Moon Orchids disintegration in America is of course partly a function of her age, but it is also clear that she is inherently not as strong as her sister. Moon Orchids story reminds us that the cultural clash can have terrible effects on those who are not equipped to deal with it.