An essay "No Name Woman: Maxine Hong Kingston" reports that it becomes hard to distinguish whether it is the reality that Kingston is narrating or her imagination about it. At the same time, one realizes that the way the story has been told is ambiguous yet effective…
At some points, she appears to be of the view that certain false beliefs and thoughts are universal in nature, and it does not matter where a person is residing or which race he belongs to. The two themes are in fact interconnected as she explains how she is a sort of an identity crisis since she finds it difficult to adjust herself to the American atmosphere; on the other hand, how her dominating mother, through her “myth-laden” tales, not only transfers but, imposes the Chinese culture on her. In other words, she is trying to maintain ties with a land which is far away while living on a land which according to her belief is not her’s, but still, she prefers to live there. Kingston’s mother, in spite of being a doctor (which implies she is an educated woman) adopts the utterly inadvisable way of scaring her children through her horrifying stories so they would listen to her and would not cross certain limits that she has set for them, not caring about the dreadful psychological impact it is likely to have on the children. As Kingston states in the end: “My aunt haunts me-her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her” (Kingston, 11). It shows stories can have a lifelong impact on us, haunting our minds for an indefinitely long period of time, affecting our actions in real life. Sometimes this impact can have life-saving value, but generally, they are only meant to exploit a person’s guilt to modify one’s behavior. As Kingston further states: “I do not think she always means me well. I am telling her, and she was a spite suicide, drowning herself in the drinking water” (Kingston, 11). It shows how it has made Kingston fret about something that possibly might not even exist. But since it has been transplanted in her mind since she was a young girl, she is compelled to think whether she is doing her aunt’s ghost wrong by publicly revealing her secrets. But there is a positive side to everything: looking at the other side of the picture, we realize that her mother’s stories have provided Kingston with the inspiration to write. It is because of these stories that she is able to relate her anonymous aunt’s story to that of her own, understanding her agony and realizing how awful life must have been for the “No Name woman”. Also, Kingston throws light on China as per her mother, being a male-dominated society. She says: “If my aunt had betrayed the family at a time of large grain yields and peace when many boys were born, and wings were being built on many houses, perhaps she might have escaped such severe punishment (Kington, 8).” It clearly shows that men were preferred over women, and the chance of Kingston’s aunt evading the torture might have been much less had times been happier (indicated by the birth of boys). ...
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