When a person has enough power in a society, it gives them a lot of control over certain things. When they have this control, they can have ownership over a person or a thing. By naming someone, or something, a person gains an unspoken ownership over him or her, they are now in control of him or her and it has created a new identity for them and erased their old identity. Power, naming and un-naming, control and ownership and identity are very important elements in “Mary” and “No Name Woman”. Both essays deal with power, identity, control and ownership, while “Mary” focuses more on naming and “No Name Woman” focuses on un-naming.
One’s power and position in a society can give them the “right” or ability to name or un-name a person. Someone can gain this right by his or her status socially, financially, and even racially. If it’s their own child, of course, they have every right in the world to name him or her. But in some cultures, as is evident in “No Name Woman”, they have the right to take away someone’s name if they have disgraced their family and/or community. A name is very significant because it gives a person a sense of who they are, an identity. In “No Name Woman”, Kingston’s aunt had no identity except for the story her mother told her and in “Mary” Marguerite’s new boss, Mrs. Cullinan changed her name to Mary which then, in a way, removed Marguerite’s original identity and gave her a new one, one she didn’t want.
By changing Marguerite’s name, Mrs. Cullinan proves how much power she has over a little black servant like Marguerite. A rich white member of the society, in which Marguerite grew up, has more power and control over things than someone of a poor background or a black background. Mrs. Cullinan wasn’t the first to incite the drastic change of Marguerite’s name, although she...
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