No Name Woman Summary Kingston learns from her mother that she once had an aunt who killed herself and her newborn baby by jumping into the family well in China. The woman's husband had left the country years before, so the villagers knew that the child was illegitimate. The night that the baby was born, the villagers raided and destroyed the family house, and the woman gave birth in a pigsty.
Kingston relates both her own memoir and the stories of women related or linked to her in some way: Though Kingston is the narrator, she shares the protagonist role with her mother. Her memories of own life do not figure prominently until the final chapter, "A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe," in which she grows out of the frustrations of her childhood and finds her own voice.
Brave Orchid is a proud and intelligent woman who comes off as both gentle and cruel in equal parts in the memoir. She appears throughout the book but figures most prominently in "Shaman," which depicts her life in China as a doctor and a woman of almost magical powers.
Moon Orchid emigrates—at Brave Orchid's encouragement—in an attempt to find her estranged husband, who left China thirty years earlier. Whereas Brave Orchid is forceful and capable and determined, Moon Orchid is timid and incapable of completing even the easiest tasks.
She is largely unable to adjust to life in America.
Read an in-depth analysis of Moon Orchid. Kingston knows nothing about aunt and must make up stories in "No-Name Woman. Fa Mu Lan represents both the Chinese female ideal—as a loving mother and wife—and a source of great power and independence.
Kingston feels a kinship with the woman warrior and, in "White Tigers," re-imagines her story in the first person, as if she were the warrior herself.
Kingston also contrasts Fa Mu Lan's great accomplishments and victories with the disappointments of her own life. The old couple are quasi-deities—Fa Mu Lan sees that they are hundreds of years old—and, significantly, are more like parents to the woman warrior than her own parents are.
Ts'ai Yen was captured by barbarians and forced to fight their battles, and brought back to her people, the Han, a song called "Eighteen Stanzas for a Barbarian Reed Pipe. Kingston's father is the main character of her second memoir, China Men.Discuss the changing role of food in The Woman Warrior.
Food appears as an important motif throughout the book, but its significance changes from chapter to chapter. In "No-Name Woman," the Chinese villagers have little food, and their desperate need for food motivates many of their actions.
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