No Name Woman, The Issue of Community Control

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Each community often develops a system of control to maintain social order. Some communities instill this order by legal codes, and other communities use moral or social codes to keep their communities in check. In the autobiographical essay "No Name Woman," by Maxine Kingston, Kingston's aunt disrupts her tight knit community by having an illegitimate child as a result of an affair. Her traditional Chinese community ran by superstition finds it necessary to punish her and brand her a nameless face to ensure the village's stability. Any means of unsettling this stability would disrupt the social order and threaten the community, and would not be tolerated. The village uses fear of shame and the community's strong presence in one another's lives, as means to control their tight knit community. Kingston opens her essay with her mother telling her of a family secret: "`you must not tell anyone,' my mother said `what I am about to tell you'" (27). Kingston's mother opening the story is significant because her voice portrays the voice of traditional Chinese society. Her mother opening is also significant because her mother emphasizes how everything shameful must be kept silent. Her mother states that Kingston should not tell anyone because what she is about to tell her daughter, has brought shame upon the family. Kingston's mother tells the story of an aunt who had caused shame upon the entire family by having an illegitimate child, and later committed suicide. She finishes by saying "`we say that your father has all brothers because it is as if she had never been born...What happened to her could happen to you. Don't humiliate us...The villagers are watchful,'" (27). Kingston's mother establishes that the whole f... ... middle of paper ... ... bestowed upon them. The Chinese belief is that they must use fear of shame and be involved in each other's lives as a system of control for their tight knit community. This system helps not only to shape Kingston's aunt's community, however also shows how they resolve conflicts of moral and ethical descent. It entails for everyone to follow these rules or else suffer the consequences of being a burdensome "ghost" and bringing shame and danger to the community. Kingston makes a bold statement, by breaking the silence-breaking tradition and telling us-the public, her aunt's shameful, forbidden story. She steps out of the role that her Chinese society had prescribed for her. She breaks the silence of her family and of her community; she breaks the unwritten rules of the system of control, which her society has chosen for her, a person of Chinese ethnicity.
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