Department or Program



This paper looks at two relatively recent works by Asian American women writers: The Woman Warrior (1978) by Maxine Hong Kingston and Comfort Woman (1997) by Nora Okja Keller. These pieces both feature ghosts and intense investigations of mother-daughter relationships. In my analysis of these elements, I use the theoretical lens of deconstruction as it is discussed in Jacques Derrida’s 1993 work, Specters of Marx, a text I found applicable due to its central conceit relying on the idea of a specter. I use Derrida’s thoughts, as well as others', to explicate the relationship between the women in The Woman Warrior and Comfort Woman and their respective specters. I argue that the specter in The Woman Warrior, in the variety of ways it appears, is the agent of tension between the narrator and her mother, exacerbated by their different experiences as second and first-generation, respectively, Chinese immigrants. I argue that the specter is an inheritance from mother to daughter, and that the narrator’s interpretation of this inheritance creates her understanding of herself as a second-generation immigrant. In my analysis of Comfort Woman, I argue that the specter is the mother herself, and she marks an anxiety of history that comes to haunt the daughter. In the end, I use this complex philosophical guidepost to come to conclusions about why these authors chose their mode of the specter to illustrate the experience of the Asian American immigrant and what that decision tells us about the respective works and the identities that they speak to.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Open Access After Expiration]

First Advisor

Salter, Tiffany

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file


Available to all on Friday, May 03, 2024