In the essay No Name Woman by Maxine Hong Kingston, she explores the life of her aunt, piecing her life and her aunt s together to find meaning and to try and figure out a connection between her life and her aunt s. Having been told the story of her aunt, Kingston realizes that there was a point to why her mother has told her about her aunt. Maybe it was because her mother didn t want the same to happen to her and she used the story as an example, a lesson to be learned or her mother wanted to establish a feeling of support to show that she is behind her daughter all the way.
Kingston s mother cared so much for her that she didn t want her to end up in a situation similar to the aunt s. Kingston comes up with different scenarios for her aunt and relates her aunt s story to her own life. In this passage, If I want to learn what clothes my aunt wore, whether flashy or ordinary, I would have to begin, Remember Father s drowned-in-the-well sister? I cannot ask that. My mother has told me once and for all useful parts. She will add nothing unless powered by Necessity, a riverbank that guides her life.
Kingston realizes that she has no clue about what her aunt was really like. All she knows is that her aunt was pregnant with another man s child and she and her baby where found dead in the family well. She is curious to know about her aunt s life but there isn t a possible way that she can bring up the topic. Knowing that Kingston doesn t have any answers about her aunt s life creates a drive to search deeper within her family s history to find the truth. The fact that her aunt was unknown leaves Kingston with the feeling of emptiness.
Kingston believes she can t compare her life with her aunt when in fact she does when she speculates about her aunt s life. After my grandparents gave their daughter away to her husband s family, they had dispensed all the adventure and all the property. They expected her alone to keep traditional ways, which her brothers, now among the barbarians, could fumble without detection. The heavy deep-rooted women were to maintain the past against the flood, safe for returning. But the rare urge west had fixed upon our family, and so my aunt crossed boundaries delineated in space.
In this passage Kingston is trying to imply that when her aunt was married she was expected to keep a suitable manner, but when her brothers had to leave her attitude changed and she did things in her own way. In China the women are expected to hold the family together and keep the tradition going but when Kingston s aunt broke the tradition it brought problems. Kingston relates with her aunt because living in America, a whole different world she is expected by her parents to also keep the tradition and to act accordingly to the Chinese culture.
What Kingston is trying to imply is that there is a lot pressure from culture. Living here in America Kingston had to establish realities, she had to act a certain way depending on the environment she was in. Whether she was in school or at home Kingston was expected to act a certain way, either by her parents or peers. The work of preservation demands that the feelings playing about in one s gut not be turned into action. Just watch their passing like cherry blossoms.
But perhaps my aunt, my forerunner, caught in a slow life, let dreams grow and fade and after some months or years went toward what persisted She offered us up a charm that vanished with tiredness, a pigtail that didn t toss when the wind died. Why the wrong lighting could erase the dearest thing about him. (327) In this passage Kingston speculates that her aunt had feelings bottled up inside her and as time passed on she could no longer hold her feelings inside and so followed her heart. I believe Kingston relates to that because I m sure that if she were in the same situation she would most likely follow her emotions.
She is portraying her aunt as being this woman of love and that the only way her aunt could have been happy was to go with her emotions. Walking erect (knees straight, toes pointing forward, not pigeon-toed, which was Chinese-feminine) and speaking in an inaudible voice, I have tried to turn myself American-feminine. Chinese communication was loud, public. Only sick people had to whisper. But at the dinner table, where the family member came nearest one another, no one could talk, not the outcasts nor any eaters. Every word that falls from the mouth is a coin lost.
Silently they gave and accepted food with both hands. A preoccupied child who took his bowl with one hand got a sideways glare. A complete moment of total attention is due everyone alike. Children and lovers have no singularity here, but my aunt used a secret voice, a separate attentiveness. (330) In this passage Kingston establishes realities between being Chinese-feminine and American-feminine, she tries to grasp the meaning of being Chinese. Kingston explains that she didn t speak very loud compared to the way Chinese females are portrayed to speak.
She compares her personality with the way her aunt used strategic silence. She is wondering if by being Chinese-American should she follow tradition or go along with what she feels. Kingston states my aunt used a secret voice, a separate attentiveness meaning that her aunt kept her thoughts to herself. Kingston is relating to her aunt s use of strategic silence. She explains how the family has this authority over who is important and who is not. The Chinese family traditions are important in deciding whether something is wrong or right.
Everyone in the family had this bond but her aunt kept to herself. The aunt was distant from the rest of the family according to Kingston. The idea that the family plays this important role in tradition is a way that Kingston uses to show how her family forgot her aunt. Kingston explores each scenario while relating it to her own life. By speculating different versions of the aunt s story, Kingston creates a sense of understanding of the possible stories of the aunt. She gets a better sense of completion although she does not know the real truth.
By reflecting those ideas about her aunt into her own life, Kingston learns more about herself and her families history. She tries to make connections between the actions of her aunt and her own actions to better understand what her aunt s life was all about. She is also trying to figure out why her aunt has this big impact on her life when she barely knows anything about her. Kingston still is puzzled why her family chooses to forget about her aunt. She explains that even after her aunt s death her family and the villagers still choose to forget and why they make it seem as if she had never existed.