One must fall first in order to learn how to stand up. The author, Maxine Hong Kingston admires her unnamed aunt for showing individuality but is afraid she will be denied by the family. She wants to show her strength and individuality like the warrior Fa Mu Lan, but according to tradition, Chinese females “fail if they are anything but wives or slaves” (19). Kingston tortures the silent girl in the school’s restroom, determined to get the poor girl to speak, only to find that Kingston herself, is similar to the silent girl. In The Woman Warrior, Kingston struggles to find her individuality, but only by becoming an outcast can she find her individuality.
Maxine Hong Kingston begins her search for a personal identity with the story of an aunt, to whom this first chapter’s title refers to, “No Name Woman”. The first we thing read is Kingston’s mother warning Kingston, “You must not tell anyone . . . what I am about to tell you. In China your father had a sister who killed herself” (3). Kingston does not fully understand the story’s importance when she first hears it because its many details confuse her, so she retells the story to the reader where she stands up for rather than outcasts her aunt. “My aunt could not have been the lone romantic who gave up everything for sex” (6). In this chapter, Kingston learns of Kingston’s conflict between the traditional Chinese culture and American culture. “Those of us in the first American generations have had to figure out how the invisible world the emigrants built around our childhoods fit in solid America” (5). Kingston also believes that if she make herself “American-pretty, the five or six Chinese boys in the class would fall in love with her” (12). Kingston does not know, until the memoir’s final chapter that her mother hopes to strengthen her daughter emotionally and psychologically by giving her a sense of who she is and where she came from through the many talk stories rather than confuse her. Brave Orchid’s “No...
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