Feminism In No Name Woman

1195 Words 5 Pages
Through various viewpoints, overlapping timelines and embellishments manifested by the author, Maxine Hong-Kingston is able to examine female roles and their assimilation into Chinese/Chinese-American society and culture; an extensive projection of Kingston’s intimate past and selfhood. Within this memoir, Kingston attempts to resolve the complexity of her own identity, being a Chinese-American, as she continuously discovers her cultural roots and sorts their placement within her own life. In the memoir, envisionments of various reoccurring, paradoxical female figures: primarily Brave Orchid, The No Name Woman, and Fa Mu Lan, serve as “talk-story” teachings that are all fundamental in Kingston’s development to becoming an actual “woman warrior”. …show more content…
This story is delivered by Brave Orchid, in a very morally skewed, purely didactic tone, as the story is meant to be cautionary, “Now you have started to menstruate, what happened to her could happen to you. Don’t humiliate us.” (5). The narrator’s struggle to rationalize the story’s events and her aunt’s decision is animated through literary diction and imagery demonstrates Kingston’s difficulty in discovering an identity, as her knowledge of Chinese society and her own American experience culturally collide. Kingston, emotionally confused, then creates these various scenarios; her aunt was actually raped, her aunt was grooming her appearance…etc., in an attempt to rehabilitate her and transition her from victim to a role model. This chapter truly illuminates Kingston’s understanding of traditional Chinese society of which she can manipulate in order to considerately process her mother’s talk story of a culture that oppresses women thoughtlessly. Kingston views her aunt as this sort of paradoxical hero, drowning herself but in the town’s drinking water, escaping a life of only mundane possibility, a woman simply a victim of cultural injustice. But by learning of …show more content…
This tale, embedded by Brave Orchid, serves as a constant reminder to young Kingston that women can transcend beyond their socially imposed limitations. White Tigers reveals Kingston’s childhood fantasy life of overcoming insignificance, emphasized by the form of talk story and how talk stories themselves can alter and overthrow pre-set restrictions on women. This fantasy however, doesn’t initially inspire Kingston to become an immediate woman warrior but does allow her the freedom/ inspiration to be one. Kingston reveals that although she imagines herself as the strong Fa Mu Lan, in her young adult life she remains voiceless. Juxtaposed by her fantasy, Kingston acknowledges a circumstance where she was fired for challenging an employer’s racist attitudes, but only speaking outward in a “small person’s voice that makes no impact” (57). This talk story of Fa Mu Lan, which allows Kingston to exaggerate and fantasize, is much different from the original, Chinese text. Originally Fa Mu Lan is a paradoxical warrior, poses purposefully as a male soldier, has no marking of revenged carved into her back (from an alternative Chinese myth: Yue Fei), has no husband, fights for 12 long years only to turn away from the emperor’s imperial court to return to her mundane existence as a Chinese maiden. But the embellishments Kingston creates only further stablishes her desperation to

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