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MonkeyNotes-The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
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Kingston then returns to the story of the aunt and definitely
decides that the pregnancy is due to a rape rather than a
voluntary love affair. She says the guilty man might have been
someone of her own family, but even a man outside the family
would have been abhorrent because "all the village were
kinsmen." In a population that has only one hundred surnames,
the Chinese studied birth charts to prevent incest. Because of
such kinship ties, sexual advances were thought to be
dangerous. Kingston says that as a girl, she used to add
"brother" silently to boys' names to hex them or to make them
less appealing or less scary. She adds that she had also hexed
herself because she did not date while growing up. She had
trouble making herself attractive to the Chinese boys in her
class.

Kingston next digresses into the Chinese village structure,
where "spirits shimmered among the live creatures, balanced
and held in equilibrium by time and land." If one person acted
outside the norm, the violence of that action "could open up a
black hole, a maelstrom that pulled in the sky." Returning to the
aunt's story, Kingston realizes that the villagers were frightened
by the aunt's violation of custom in getting pregnant. The raid
was punishment for her acting like she could have a private life.

Kingston next imagines what it would have been like after the
raid. The family cursed the aunt, calling her a ghost, claiming
she had never been born. The aunt would have run out into the
fields to lie down with the first pains of childbirth. She would
remember that "old-fashioned women gave birth in their pigsties
to fool the jealous, pain-dealing gods, who do not snatch
piglets." She would then run to the pigsty before the next
contraction. When the baby was born, she would touch it in the
dark, feeling for fingers and toes. But the aunt realized that the
child had no family and decided to take the baby with her to
death.



Kingston returns to Brave Orchid's original warning. For
twenty-five years, since she has heard this story, she has kept
silent about it, never asking questions. She does not even know
her aunt's name. She decides that the real punishment to the aunt
was not the raid, but the family's deliberately forgetting her in a
culture that worships heritage and ancestors. Kingston ends the
chapter by admitting that her aunt still haunts her all these years.
She knows that her aunt performed a 'spite' suicide, downing
herself and her infant in the family drinking water, knowing that
the drowned ghost is a fearful figure in Chinese culture. In spite
of the suicide and infanticide, Kingston gives the no name aunt
the history that she deserves, and in doing so, makes a statement
that all women are important and have value. She also defies her
mother who has warned her to remain silent about the story.

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MonkeyNotes-The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
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