No Name Woman Summary

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In No Name Woman by Maxine Hong Kingston, the intercrossing adaption of memory and narrative challenges the gender inequality in the old China. In relation to the unnamed aunt’s story, mother of the narrator talks story orally when the narrator tells story in print. The mother believes the story would keep the narrator from any act of sexual transgression, while the narrator retells the story to question the traditional system of gender identities, roles and expectations. With reference to the relationship between memory and narrative, this essay analyzes the influence of personal and familial memory towards one’s identity formation. To begin with, the narrative of unnamed aunt’s story is built up on the personal memory of the narrator’s…show more content…
The gender of the child has never been disclosed as it is described “lovely as a young calf, a piglet, a little dog” (Kingston 21). The narrator believes a male child might bring a certain extent of forgiveness to her aunt. In addition to the inappropriate adulterous affair of unnamed aunt which was considered as a breach of the traditional code, the narrator further suggests her crime grows more aggravating by imaging that “it was probably a girl; there is some hope of forgiveness for boys” (Kingston 21). The idea of a male child is more preferable and celebrated than a female is supported by the evidences of unnamed aunt being “unusually beloved” and the crazy behavior of the aunt’s grandfather who traded his son for a girl (Kingston 17). Since sons could ensure a family’s stability and longevity by passing on the family name, they were venerated. Daughters who were given away by their parents at marriage was the other way round. A female child is viewed as a bigger threat towards the “roundness”, symbolically related to “the round moon cakes and round doorways, the round tables of graduated sizes that fit one roundness inside another, round windows and rice bowls” (Kingston 19), that is to say, menace the continuity and structural completeness of the family. While…show more content…
It is a kind of struggle over contrasting narratives, between the mother’s version and the daughter’s invention of the story.
In fact, the undermined identity with uncertainties and apparent gaps in the mother’s memory provides fluidity and space which facilitates the refashioning of identity for the narrator. While the memory emphasizes unnamed aunt’s low identity is led by her ethical orientation, the narrative suggests that is a result of social structure. In the process of recreating, the cognition and construction of one’s identity is
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