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MonkeyNotes-The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
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Kingston goes back in time to when her aunt was married. On
the first night she saw him, they became husband and wife and
had sex; he then sailed for America. Kingston imagines that her
aunt probably had forgotten even what he looked like. Next,
Kingston remembers conversations between her mother and
father in which they had referred to the outcast table where
wrongdoers were forced to eat alone. She adds that, unlike the
Japanese who let outcasts leave the family to become samurais
and geishas, the Chinese made the outcasts remain in the family,
ostracized for life. She guesses that her aunt must have eaten at
the outcast table.

Kingston finds another question about the story. Even though
wives always went to live with their husbands' families, the aunt
was apparently living with her own family at the time of the
raid. She wonders if the aunt had been sent back from her
husband's family in disgrace. Then she remembers that her aunt
was an only daughter in a family of four brothers, all of whom
had traveled to the United States. Perhaps the family had sent
for the daughter, but they certainly expected her to "keep the
traditional ways." Kingston assumes that her aunt, her
"forerunner," had let her delicate dreams grow. She imagines
that her aunt perhaps found a man attractive for subtle things
like the way his hair grew, and disgraced the family for such a
subtle attraction. Kingston momentarily entertains the idea that
perhaps her aunt could have been "a wild woman" who kept
"rollicking company." She then dismisses this scenario because
it does not fit with the aunt's time.



Next, Kingston envisions her aunt working on her appearance in
front of a mirror. She knows that a woman of her aunt's time
would quickly gain a reputation as an eccentric if she tended to
her looks. All the married women "blunt cut their hair" or wore
tight buns. Kingston identifies with her aunt's spirit and
imagines that she "combed individuality into her bob." Kingston
then remembers a story about her grandfather, who was no
name's father. One day he brought home a baby girl, having
traded one of his sons for her. His wife had made him retrieve
the son. Kingston hopes that when he had his own daughter, the
no name aunt, he doted on her before her tragic end.

Kingston digresses again and thinks about the Chinese
immigrants who always seem to have loud voices, "not
modulated to American tones even after years away from the
villages where they called their friendships out across the
fields." Ironically, at the Chinese dinner table, there is quiet, for
no one is allowed to talk.

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