Americanized perspective aslo helped to reveal a great deal about traditional Chinese culture. In Maxine Hong Kingston's short story "No Name Woman", there is the belief that the narrator is faced with pressures from a deeply entwined, scapegoating and contradicting community. She explains that her mother usually invoked stories from her homeland of China to teach life lessons. The power to decide is largely in the storyteller, in the interpretation of an event and not the event itself. 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.
Because Kingston cannot ask about her unnamed aunt—who is referred to only as “No-Name Woman”—she invents her own fantasies about why her aunt gave in to her forbidden passions. Any sexual passion could lead to adultery or incest and therefore threatened the social order. Women are considered the opposite sex of men and in past times as slaves of men. Kingston identifies—was acting on her private interests, stepping out of the role Chinese society and traditions had proscribed for her. The way Brave Orchid tells her story, it becomes more and more clear that a larger power play over sex was happening that shamed the aunt to suicide.
The narrator was told a story from her Chinese culture, of a forgotten aunt whose husband went away to America. The term “woman” is defined in the dictionary as an adult female human being having characteristics such as courtesy, kindness, gentility, and nurturing abilities. The Villagers ransacked the family's house and belongings; even her own flesh and blood, her family, later joined the accusations.
The villagers punished her for acting as if she could have a private life, secret and apart from them. Instead they attacked her and her family, showing their shame of the situation they were unwillingly placed in. Instead of taking all agency and will power away from her aunt, Kingston imagines another kind of existence for her, one that is probably less widely circulated as social truth but is nonetheless possible. Such traditions, Kingston says, were thought of as necessary to ensure village stability, especially when the villagers were all related in some way. The next morning the mother found her sister-in-law and the baby plugging up the well. Maxine that this was shameful to become pregnant by someone whom you are not married to. The use of conflict gives readers a vivid screening of the role women played in the Chinese society.
The mother, aunt, and narrator (Maxine) all reveal a very different viewpoint on Chinese culture. After slaughtering the animals, they swarmed the house and destroyed everything they could find. The next morning, the narrator’s mother found her and her newborn baby drowned in the family well. In this story while the aunt goes through a major ordeal, the rest of the village takes it personally. The differences between Chinese culture and American culture; and the traditional roles of women in a Chinese society. She told Maxine that her father had sister who had premarital sex and became pregnant.
Like most of the men in their village, they sought money elsewhere because the village crops were suffering. Kingston attempts to figure out what role the teachings of her parents should have on her life, a similar attempt for many of us in the world. Maxine was reaching womanhood when her mother told her this story, and that she must never tell anyone. Times are different depending on which society one happens to come upon, and no one person has the ability to see everyone's point of view. Neither she nor anyone else in the village discussed it; the sister-in-law’s husband had been gone for years, so her pregnancy was disgraceful to the village. Because the narrator is forbidden to ask about her aunt, she fills in the gaps in the story with her imagination. In giving the No Name Woman another story to be told, Kingston uses her authorial power to offer another interpretation. The story of her aunt is told by her mother and Kingston recreates the events into an exploratory story to help herself figure out what part of her identity is Chinese and help her better understand the Chinese culture.
Through the use of conflict, symbolism, and characterization, the message behind the theme becomes prominent to readers. The symbols that are portrayed in novel, make the message of the theme more evident to readers. This is presumably because the book, while grounded in truth, does not maintain a clear boundary between reality and fantasy. The woman had brought such disgrace upon her family that they decided to pretend that she had never been born.