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No Name Woman Analysis

Decent Essays
One’s identity can’t be given before one achieves a sense of character through self-reflection and personal experience. In “No Name Woman” Maxine Hong Kingston narrates the tale of her unmarried aunt who is obliged to suffer the consequences of her pregnancy in the ambiguous world of her Chinese roots. We are not given a name for the narrator nor for her family. We therefore might wonder who might be considered a “No name Woman” both in the book’s world and in our own. With the oxymoron No Name Woman, Kingston calls attention to reconcile both her Chinese and American identities to and mold her own identity as a result. This makes us think more deeply about the multiple meanings of Chinese experience in America. Kingston instantly outlines…show more content…
Indeed, Chinese citizens tend to think twice before speaking their words by fear of negative consequences. In Chinese society, family is profoundly important and negative history follows generations after generations. The story Kingston is about to hear is disgraceful as the actions of her aunt reflect badly on her entire family. What is ironic is that Kingston works purposefully throughout the story to unravel her aunt’s story when her parents put in a lot of effort to keep it hidden. Kingston is therefore differentiating herself from her own culture by publishing her family’s disturbing secret. The author characterizes the United States as the “Gold Mountain” –a personification of opportunity and success. Many Chinese citizens decided to move to America escaping their oppressive government to live the American dream. When immigrating to this new land, the Chinese were exposed to a new culture, enabling them to compare their society to the American one. The meaning of being American is different for everyone; no one shares a common experience. This idea serves as the reason why Kingston questions the truthfulness of her aunt’s story. Her mother’s experience is personal and unique and incites her to interpret the aunt’s story in…show more content…
In Chinese culture, water ghosts (Shui gui) are the spirits of people who drowned. Shui Gui are known for lurking in the place they died to drag gullible victims underwater to drown them and take possession of their bodies. With this in mind, the villagers had another reason to keep the aunt’s history hidden as they feared to suffer the consequences of slandering her as a shameful outcast. The aspects of Chinese society come together near the end of the story. Kingston’s metaphors such as “round moon cakes and doorways” represent the circle of Chinese life: The idea that every villager has a place in the tight circle that is Chinese society. The roundness also indicates that the family functions as a whole, with each generation dependent on the other. Chinese tradition is what fuels this circle; it establishes the cultural norms and practices that define what it means to be Chinese. Not only does this circle represent ancestral relations, it also represents the circle of
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