Maxine Hong Kingston's A Song For A Barbarian Reed Pipe

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In “A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe,” Maxine Hong Kingston reflects on her childhood. Kingston blames her mother for the results of the frenectomy, a procedure that was supposed to help her speak well but affects her speech. She describes the operation as a violent and empowering act by her mother. The passage’s use of diction, imagery, and point of view help to convey the author’s feelings towards her mother and . At a young age, Maxine Hong Kingston got a Frenectomy. Kingston writes about the procedure as if it were “evil.” Her mother “cut” her tongue, “pushed” it up and “sliced the frenum.” Her mother made the decision so that she would not be “tongue-tied” and so that her “tongue would be able to move in any language.” Kingston remembers the old chinese saying, “a ready tongue is an evil,” which represented a reminder to females that it was good to be quiet in the Chinese culture. However, in the United States “things are different.” Having the ability to speak is treasured, by both Kingston and her mother. Both of them face difficulties in this area though because Kingston cannot speak and her mother cannot speak English. Throughout her childhood, Kingston was very self-conscious about talking. She felt “shame” when she heard the “cracks” and “squeaks” of her voice. When she spoke, her…show more content…
The personal narrative of this story is told through the major character, Maxine Hong Kingston. She is reflecting back on her childhood which establishes some credibility. Throughout the passage, readers see that Kingston repeatedly blames her mother for her speaking difficulties when all her mother wanted was for Kingston to be able to speak multiple languages freely without being “tongue tied.” The accusations that Kingston repeatedly places on her mother are ironic because while Kingston is writing about how she is unable to communicate, readers see that she is very capable of expressing herself through her
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