Maxine Hong Kingston's Essay 'No Name Woman'

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Maxine Hong Kingston’s essay entitled “No Name Woman” explores the ideas of womanhood, tradition, culture, and identity. Kingston’s mother tells her the story of an aunt of whom Kingston had never heard. When Kingston’s aunt became pregnant out of wedlock, villagers raided the home of her family. Her aunt’s angry family chased her from the home with their scornful cries, and she was forced to give birth in a pigsty. Overwhelmed with pain, fear, and hopelessness, Kingston’s aunt jumped, with daughter in arms, down her family’s drinking-well. Kingston expresses her uncomfortability with her aunt’s suicide as well as her family’s unwillingness to speak of her aunt’s existence. Lacking a complete understanding of her family’s past, Kingston struggles to reconcile her Chinese-roots with her identity as a first generation American.…show more content…
She wrestles with each scenario finding each believable, yet inconclusive. Kingston sees no hope in asking her mother anything further about her aunt. She knows that “[her mother] will add nothing unless powered by Necessity” (309). Kingston’s mother uses stories to “warn [Kingston and her siblings] about life” (309), rather than to explicitly share their Chinese heritage with them. As a result, Kingston questions how she can separate the genuine culture of her ancestors from the embellished representations with which her mother provides

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