A Powerful Storyteller

“The Woman Warrior” by Maxine Kingston is a very interesting, perspective of a Chinese woman who had gone through many troubles as a woman growing up. Through this chapter “No Name Woman” Kingston lays out the influence of her mother as a story teller. The chapter opens up to a very drastic scene. “You must not tell anyone, My mother said, what I am about to tell you. In China your father had a sister who killed herself. She jumped into the family well. We say that your father has all brothers because it’s as if she had never been born.” (3) Her Mother then goes on to explain how this atrocity happens. Her Mother claims to remember a protruding melon of a stomach on her. Which couldn’t have been possible since the man that she was going to spend the rest of the life with had left to go overseas. The village had been counting down the days to her birth as well. Her mother explains that they showed up and had raided their whole house destroying everything from food, clothes, pots, and even killing all their animals and smearing the blood all over the walls. We soon find out later that she is telling her this story because she is starting to menstruate. Her mother is trying to warn her not to humiliate her like her aunt had did her family. Kingston takes a very direct approach in showing all her readers what life was like for a Chinese woman and as an American Chinese Woman through multiple stories.

After hearing her mother’s Story’s as a Chinese woman, she then goes and tells her own story as how she sees it through an American Chinese woman. She figures that her aunt had, had a one-night marriage. She then states that some man had threated to kill her if she didn’t have sex with him. She felt like she had no choice since she gets her oil from him and collect firewood from the same forest. Kingston then reveals that she had told the man she might be pregnant and the man had organized the raid and town against her. Kingston believes that killing her baby along with herself was a noble decision. She knew the child would live a life no one would want her to live. A life of misery, pain, and the acceptance of no one. At the end of the chapter Kingston states that the raid or the death of the child and her wasn’t the worst part but the fact that all of her family chose to abandon her and forget about her completely. “The real punishment was not the raid swiftly inflicted by the villagers, but the family deliberately forgetting her.” (16)

I think there is a bigger picture to all of this. I think this chapter has everything to do with storytelling. The story could’ve easily gone where the Aunt had been shamed into suicide and that it is the aunts fault that her baby was born and that is was her fault she was born into a culture where men had all the power in the world and she had no choice who she could sleep with. Kingston had taken the story and perceived it to how she really thought it went. Kingston along with everyone else that hears a story has the ability to look through the story that was told and interpret is how you want to see it or what you think is right. I think her mother had told her that story because she didn’t want her daughter to make a fool of their family too and that she wanted to let her know that men still have the power create her future whether its good or bad.”Don’t humiliate us. You wouldn’t like to be forgotten as if you had never been born.” (5) This also means that if her daughter ever went to America like her aunt’s brothers, she too could create a new story and a new future for her family’s legacy.  

Can you think of a piece of history that has been lost in time, or stories in a textbook, book, or even a story from internet where you read or heard that story and you envisioned it differently?

Do you think woman today still get horribly victimized by men as much as it did back then? Is this still a growing issue in America and other places around the world? 

9 thoughts on “A Powerful Storyteller”

  1. Hey Dan, great work recapping this chapter. After reading your blog post I actually understood the chapter better than when I first read it myself. To answer your question, I still do think that women get horribly victimized by men as much as they did back then. I feel like a lot of it goes unnoticed, primarily in lesser countries. In America, women are still raped by men, they are still preyed upon by men because they feel that women are an easy target. In this chapter, it shows how men treat women and use fear to keep them in line. “They both gave orders: she followed. “If you tell your family, I’ll beat you. I’ll kill you. Be here again next week.” The fear instilled into women by men still exists in a certain degree today and I think that it is extremely unfortunate.

  2. Great analysis on the first chapter, Dan! I definitely think that women are still victimized by men today, everywhere in the world, which is such a heart breaking fact to have to face. The optimist in me wants to say that in some aspects, the situations that women have to deal with are getting better, but on a very small scale. I think the more knowledge and education we as a world get on the correct way to treat people, especially women, the better we become at handling situations, however, like I said, there is still a LOT of progress to be made. Kingston writes on page 7, “She told the man, “I think I’m pregnant.” He organized the raid against her.” I think this is one big problem that women still deal with, globally. Many times, like Owen said, women are seen as an easy target, so they are often beat or forced into submission for the men’s pleasure, and then are forced to deal with the consequences by themselves, which is what Kingston says that her aunt had to do when going through the pregnancy, labor, and birth.

  3. Hey Dan, this analysis of the first chapter is incredible and including your comparison to the first chapter to storytelling was phenomenal. When I first read the chapter I was kind of confused in parts that they were speaking of the narrator’s experiences, the mother’s, and her aunt. Eventually after reading your post and closely reading the chapter again, the importance of storytelling is critical in culture as shown in the chapter. The aunt of the narrator is characterized as a family member who had shamed the family name so much that the father didn’t want to even acknowledge her. In the first chapter, No Name Woman, the strength of storytelling in the end, showed the power of this families tradition and culture. THe families traditions were so strict that after the aunt had the baby from other man, in the chapter the village was described as “villagers broke in the front and the back doors at the same time…they smeared blood on the doors and walls… they ripped up her clothes and shoes and broke her combs… when they left, they took sugar and oranges to bless themselves” ( The Woman Warrior, 4-5). Through her storytelling of her aunt and the villagers reaction to the pregnancy, it shows the great example of the Chinese culture and tradition.

  4. Hi Dan! You did an amazing job analyzing the first chapter. I too agree that you have helped me understand it a bit more, as Owen said. I believe women do get victimized horribly, still to this day. Yes, things for women have started to have a positive act recently. But, some people don’t take what the women are doing seriously. I believe in some other cultures women are just meant to take after the husband, the house and provide babies for a family. Like the aunt of the narrator, the villagers did not approve of her pregnancy. Kingston writes on page 7, “She told the man, “I think I’m pregnant.” He organized the raid against her.” This shows how different cultures treat women when doing something that isn’t approved.

  5. Hi Dan, I really liked your recapping of the reading! I do believe women are still heavily victimized in society today. My main reason for thinking this is the quote from page 3 “‘You must not tell anyone,’ my mother said, ‘what I am about to tell you.'” The mother is still very afraid of the judgement placed on the family years ago being placed on them today. The worst part I believe was the family throwing her out. The way their culture was built around honor forced them to act on what would bring their family the most honor.

  6. Hi Dan! I think you did a really great job with this chapter. You actually made it a lot more clear for me because I was kind of confused when I read the chapter. I think that women today are still very much so victimized by men. Not only are they victimized, but they are simply looked down upon for no reason. I think that often men use fear to try an control or prey on women. One of the best examples of the fear used against women would be “If you tell your family, I’ll beat you. I’ll kill you. Be here again next week.” I think that this is still very much happening to this day which is really sad.

  7. Hi Dan! I really like how you bring up stories and storytelling as a focus here. I think it makes a lot of sense to use this chapter to set up the relationship between the author’s own retelling of the story, and her mother’s warning in her version. I do think women still get victimised by men today and I think the author’s own awareness of that is partly what motivates her version of the story. She writes “My aunt could not have been the lone romantic who gave up everything for sex. Women in the old China did not choose” (15*), but in this she is reflecting her own view of her aunt, because she says herself she couldn’t ask her family for more details.

  8. Whats up Dan, when I first read the chapter I was kind of confused by it and like everyone said you did honestly help me understand the content more. To answer your question about if women still get victimized by men as much as back then; I don’t think its as bad but its still relevant. Back in the day I think it was far worse and men essentially could do what they wanted with women and basically controlled them. Now a days women are still getting raped and there are men that just treat women as objects and not as real people. In the chapter I found a line thats still happening today, the young girl was talking about her aunt and said, “I hope the man my aunt loved appreciated a smooth brow, that he wasn’t just a tits-and-ass man.” Now a days I feel like the problem with some men is they don’t appreciate women with the small things and just focus on girls’ “tits and ass” and thats when the problems occur.

  9. Hi Dan, i really enjoyed reading your response and i agree with you in that sometimes, there are two sides to a story, and its important to realize that interpreting a story as a “single story” has its consequences.

    Unfortunately, i do think that women are still victimized not only around the world, but right here in the United States. After doing some research online, it appears as if gender discrimination is still a highly profiled problem in workforces around the globe. I found online that “One-in-four working women (25%) say they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job” (Paw Research Center). This was a surprising statistic to me, and i think it definitely raises concern that we are still suffering from a world of inequality.

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