Aunt of the narrator
This unnamed aunt is referred to in the first chapter of this work and is the sister of the narrator’s father. She killed herself and her newborn baby by jumping in the family well and did so after the villagers raided their house as a punishment for her adultery.
This is the mother of the first-person narrator and is a central, forceful character. She is portrayed as both brave and domineering, and as independent and yet also tied to the traditions of her ancestors.
Fa Mu Lan
As the eponymous warrior woman, arguably one of many in this work including Brave Orchid and the narrator, her story of bravery and skill is related in Chapter Two.
This is the daughter of Brave Orchid and is referred to as Little Dog at one point in the narrative. If this work is read simply as autobiographical, then the narrator may be understood to be Hong Kingston.
Grandmother of the narrator
She is the mother of Brave Orchid and a story concerning her bravery against the threat of bandits is told in the final chapter.
Moon Orchid is the sister of Brave Orchid and is portrayed as the more fearful and less certain of the two. She comes to the United States with the help of her daughter and sister and is rejected by her husband. She is later overwhelmed with anxiety and fears and is subsequently placed in a mental asylum.
Father of the narrator
He is unnamed and appears in only the peripheries of the narrative. This demonstrates perhaps how more influential his wife has been in raising the children.
She is the final brave woman of this narrative and her story is told at the end of the final chapter, which is named after one of her songs (‘Eighteen Stanzas for a Barbarian Reed Pipe’). She is a poetess born in AD 175 and after being captured by ‘barbarians’ she was released to marry and to go on to sing her songs of the ‘savage lands’.