AP English 11
The Woman Warrior
In the story, “No Name Woman,” inside the novel The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, we learn that Kingston's aunt killed herself and her newborn baby by jumping into the family well in China. Kingston's mother tells her this in a way to warn her and to be careful not to let the same fate fall upon her. This story shows how the Chinese Americans were raised in an, “invisible world,” filled with ghosts from her past and they way they are treated when placing disgrace upon their own family. They express these through talk stories and she shares this story because it is like her own struggle in life.
Like many cultures, women are not treated with the respect as are men in Chinese culture. They were not allowed the same privileges when it came to outside activities or inside their relationships with each other. Women were put on a more strict road when it came to their marriages, such as remaining faithful even though they know the husband has not been. Kingston's aunt went against these standards while her husband was away, cheating on him with another man. From that, she ended up pregnant. Society's point of view is negative towards these kind of actions and any Chinese family would disown any member who participated in anything like that. For example, when this happened to Kingston's aunt, everyone pretended not to notice but they were all secretly planning a way to punish her. They accomplished this goal by destroying the house she currently lived in. Women are always punished harsher than men, if men are even punished at all. Kingston's tries to understand this by going through what she believes was on her aunts mind at the time and the reason she was pushed to suicide. Her aunt was just looking out for herself and her newborn child, knowing their future together would not be a good one. If only she took her life, no one would have taken the baby into care knowing how it came to be. If she only took the baby's life, it would just be another thing she would be shunned over. Making her decision very easy to take both of their lives. Kingston believes the reason her aunt chose the well, “the drowned one, whose weeping ghost, wet hair hanging and skin bloated, waits silently by the water to pull down a substitute,” (16) because the Chinese fear this. Her aunt waiting for a victim to come about.
Within the chapter, “No Name Woman,” it expresses other themes as the one just discussed. The talk-stories are part truth and part fantasy. Her mother has expressed the stories to Kingston's as she has grown up about Chinese customs and their traditions to teach her the way. The story of her aunt was not an original talk story because she told us from what she knows, as well as adding other details of her own not knowing her aunts full situation. She repeats what her mother has told her, which gives us the difference between the truthful talk-stories and the fictional talk-stories. There is also a twist, with not knowing what she is adding in herself or what her mother has told her. Were very unsure if Kingston is trying to find out what happened to her aunt completely or is she just adding in things that relate to her own struggles. She seems to be using her own struggles as details to the stories to soon understand her family's past and her Chinese heritage. Throughout the chapter, Kingston seems to question the story of her aunt because it never seems to make total sense. Then she questions why her aunt was living with her own parents when she should have been living with her husbands. Kingston rationalized the situation and soon come to the conclusion that her aunt was kicked out of her husbands parents house for her terrible action. All of these stories play a role inside Kingston's life, figuring out how to grow up and live as a Chinese-American. Trying to keep her on the right track with the way Chinese culture lives and how they look upon certain actions.