Maxine Hong Kingston's No Name Woman Essay examples

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Maxine Hong Kingston's No Name Woman A person's identity cannot be given to her, instead a person must achieve a sense of her character through personal experience and self-reflection. In "No Name Woman", Maxine Hong Kingston recalls the events of her aunt's life in the vague world of her Chinese roots. The story of her aunt is told by her mother and Kingston recreates the events into an exploratory story to help herself figure out what part of her identity is Chinese and help her better understand the Chinese culture. In retelling her aunt's story, Kingston seeks to reconcile both her Chinese and American identities and mold her own identity as a result. Kingston, a first generation American, finds that as a result of her cultural…show more content…
Kingston's story seeks meaning in the Chinese culture system in order to strengthen her individual identity. It also shows that certain aspects of the people and traditions of a cultural background can be disturbing at times. "To be a woman, to have a daughter in starvation time was enough... Women in the old China did not choose (Kingston 6)." The Chinese community that held the most meaning for Kingston's cultural identity had been lost somewhere in the past. The only knowledge Kingston has of anything Chinese had come from her mother, but that was not enough for her. She has only vague memories and imaginations of such a community that serve as a backdrop for the goal she seeks in strengthening her identity in relation to her ancestral and cultural makeup. For Kingston, she had become separated from part of her heritage. She struggled in attempting to understand the meaning of this heritage in a world that is different from the older generations. She illustrates this confusion and difficulty in attempting to understand her cultural roots when she says, "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? What is Chinese and what is the movies? (Kingston 5)." Kingston wants to tap into this old world her parents and ancestors belong to in order to
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