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MonkeyNotes-The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
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This first "chapter" of Kingston's memoirs is often difficult to
follow, for it is highly improvisational. Since the author lacks
concrete and sure knowledge of her aunt's actions or motivation,
Kingston must reconstruct the scenes with imagination. She
comes up with several scenarios, each one temporarily
considered and a provisional possibility, to explain her aunt's
life and death. The aunt might have fallen in love and become
pregnant; she might have been raped; or she might have been
promiscuous. Kingston also provides scenarios, which picture
the aunt differently from Brave Orchid's image of her as a
prodigal daughter who brought down shame upon the family. In
Kingston's versions, the aunt becomes a highly imaginative
woman who goes against custom, and a loving mother, and an
injured member of the community.

Most importantly, Kingston keeps reminding the reader of why
she is so concerned about her aunt. The aunt's story has been
taught as a negative lesson on womanhood. Kingston's mother
has warned her daughter repeatedly to obey all the rules or share
the same destiny as the aunt. Ironically, as a Chinese-American,
Kingston has been breaking the rules of traditional China all
along. She identifies with the no name aunt as a female ancestor
who also broke the rules of tradition.

It is important to note that Kingston dwells the longest on what
she admits to be the least likely scenario for her aunt--the love
story. For a Chinese-American girl, this story is the most
appealing, for it features an imaginative, brave, and unique
woman who goes against the norm. This version, however, is
highly unlikely because that kind of romantic love is a Western
invention reinforced in the movies. Kingston alternates between
a fantasy about a love affair and a more accurate historical
reconstruction that honors the truth of the hard life of women in
the old China. As a result, the reader must carefully follow the
alternatives and digressions that characterize the chapter.

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MonkeyNotes-The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

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