Literary Analysis of No Name Woman
A short literary analysis of Maxine Kingston’s classic “No Name Woman” As part of the first generation of Chinese-Americans, Maxine Hong Kingston writes about her struggle to distinguish her cultural identity through an impartial analysis of her aunt’s denied existence. In “No Name Woman,” a chapter in her written memoirs, Kingston analyzes the possible reasons behind her disavowed aunt’s dishonorable pregnancy and her village’s subsequent raid upon her household.
And with a bold statement that shatters the family restriction to acknowledge the exiled aunt, Kingston states that, “… she] alone devote pages of paper to her [aunt]… ” With this premeditated declaration, Kingston rebelliously breaks the familys cultural taboo to mention the exiled aunt. Because a strict Chinese culture fails to be practical in American society, Kingston defiantly acknowledges the existence of her aunt’s life because she understands that her lost Chinese values as imposed by her family parallels her aunt’s capital crime to her village.
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This argument would prove that Kingston did not write this chapter in veneration of her aunt, but with the intention to provide insight to her understanding of herself as a Chinese-American woman. Providing proof that Kingston has no intention of venerating her aunt becomes necessary in order to further analyze her true intention behind her stated declaration. The phrase “devote pages of paper” is evidently used in reference to Kingston’s chapter, “No Name Woman,” in which she states both the story of her aunt and her analysis of it in remembrance of the aunt’s existence.
As well, Kingston’s inclusion of the word “alone” emphasizes that only she has ever committed to her aunt’s remembrance. Yet to add further meaning to this line, the succeeding and concluding phrase of this sentence states, “… hough not origamied into houses and clothes. ” The idea of devoting through origami, an art form of paper folding, is used in Asian cultures as symbolical respect. This phrase therefore rebukes the presumption that Kingston is honoring her unknown aunt through her devotion of writing through understanding the cultural connotation affiliated with her declaration.
Whereas Kingston fails to write in honor of her late aunt, Kingston tries to remain impartial of how her aunt arrived to becoming the mother of an illegitimate child. No matter the truth behind the situation, Kingston, like the illagers, understands that “… her [aunt’s] infidelity had already harmed the village, that waves of consequences would return unpredictably. ” Her aunt had broken the “roundness” of the village, the villagers’ way of life in which traditional discipline and control enforced the self-supporting village to maintain their balanced dependency.
In return, Kingston states that, “the villagers punished her [aunt] for acting as if she could have a private life, secret and apart from them. ” Kingston therefore fully understands that her aunt had attempted to distance herself away from the villagers’ ay of life possibly on her own will, and through doing so committed an act of treason punishable with severity by those who took offense from her actions. The villagers had punished the aunt because she had taken an unacceptable road that undermined their values Just as Kingston’s search for her identity in America questions the Chinese culture imposed upon her.
The role that culture plays on “Chinese-Americans, when you try to understand what things in you are Chinese, how do you separate what is peculiar to childhood, to poverty, insanities, one family, your mother who marked your growing with stories, from what is Chinese? Through her rhetorical question, Kingston directly states the difficulties to identify and incorporate Chinese culture in American society. She finds herself sacrificing her ancestral culture in order to adapt to American values which remain practical and applicable here in America.
In an example which Kingston adapted to that which is desired in American society, she conceded the fact that “… speaking in an inaudible voice, [she had] tried to turn [herself] American-feminine. ” Yet the Chinese cultural influence of the past still remained existent within Kingston as it was refreshed from time to time nd expressed in her recollection of the aunt’s story and the moral conclusions deduced through her mother. “Don’t humiliate us. You wouldn’t like to be forgotten as if you had never been born.
The villagers are watchful. ” Practically through her mother’s indoctrination alone, Kingston was shaped throughout her childhood to respect honor, family, and the very Chinese culture itself. Kingston’s mother had once told her, “you must not tell anyone [about your aunt],” and yet in direct defiance, Kingston then “devote[s] pages of paper to her [aunt]. ” Her actions which defy her other’s strict order are purposely directed through her rebellious intention to do so.
Kingston argues that the emigrant generation, which consisted of her mother, had taken their culture with them because “those in the emigrant generations who could not reassert brute survival died young and far from home. ” Yet raising their progeny, they must teach them what they know and understand. Kingston therefore believes that “they must try to confuse their offspring as well, who, I suppose, threaten them in similar ways – always trying to get things straight, always trying to name the unspeakable.
Kingston herself is breaking the “roundness” that is imbued upon Chinese culture, the balanced dependency that each generation is reliant upon, in order to follow cultural values which remain applicable on American soil. As Kingston alone asserted in her chapter, “those of us in the first American generations have had to figure out how the invisible world the emigrants built around our childhoods fits in solid America. ” More analysis on SparkNotes: http://www. sparknotes. com/lit/womanwarrior/ sectionl . html (Maxine Hong Kingston’s short story: “No Name Woman” in The Woman