The Woman Warrior

by

Maxine Hong Kingston

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Kingston’s dead aunt and her father’s sister. Brave Orchid tells Kingston about her aunt but warns her that she “must not tell anyone.” No Name Woman had been married to a husband who was “gone for years,” then became pregnant out of wedlock and gave birth to a daughter. Her marriage had been to “a young man in the next village.” At the ceremony, “the best rooster” had served as his proxy. They met once for their honeymoon, then he left for America. Kingston longs to know more about her aunt, so she creates scenarios for her. Kingston assumes the possibility that the lover was not much different from her absent husband, probably forcing her to have sex, then threatening her. In another story, she is “a wild woman” who is “free with sex,” but this seems to be least plausible. When the villagers found out about No Name Woman’s illegitimate pregnancy, they ransacked her family’s home. Kingston thinks that they punished her for believing that “she could have a private life, secret and apart from them.” The No Name Woman never revealed the name of her daughter’s father. She “gave silent birth” in a pig-sty, then jumped into a well with her infant daughter and died.

No Name Woman Quotes in The Woman Warrior

The The Woman Warrior quotes below are all either spoken by No Name Woman or refer to No Name Woman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Woman Warrior published in 1989.
1. No Name Woman Quotes

“You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you. In China your father had a sister who killed herself. She jumped into the family well. We say that your father has all brothers because it is as if she had never been born.

Related Characters: Brave Orchid (speaker), Maxine Hong Kingston, No Name Woman
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

It could very well have been, however, that my aunt did not take subtle enjoyment of her friend, but, a wild woman, kept rollicking company…

Related Characters: Maxine Hong Kingston (speaker), No Name Woman
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

In the village structure, spirits shimmered among the live creatures, balanced and held in equilibrium by time and land. But one human being flaring up into violence could open up a black hole, a maelstrom that pulled in the sky. The frightened villagers, who depended on one another to maintain the real, went to my aunt to show her a personal, physical representation of the break she had made in the “roundness.” Misallying couples snapped off the future, which was to be embodied in true offspring. The villagers punished her for acting as if she could have a private life, secret and apart from them.

Related Characters: Maxine Hong Kingston (speaker), No Name Woman
Related Symbols: Ghosts
Page Number: 12-13
Explanation and Analysis:

My aunt haunts me—her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her, though not origamied into houses and clothes. I do not think she always means me well. I am telling on her, and she was a spite suicide, drowning herself in the drinking water.

Related Characters: Maxine Hong Kingston (speaker), No Name Woman
Related Symbols: Ghosts
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
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No Name Woman Character Timeline in The Woman Warrior

The timeline below shows where the character No Name Woman appears in The Woman Warrior. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. No Name Woman
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
No Name Woman , which is the name that Kingston grants her shamed aunt, had the baby in... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
...They destroyed her clothes and shoes “and broke her combs, grinding them underfoot.” That evening, No Name Woman gave birth in a pigsty. When Brave Orchid went out for water, she found her... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
...lone romantic who gave up everything for sex.” It is also possible, she thinks, that No Name Woman was like many Chinese women and did not choose, but that a man may have... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
...sure that they would have dealt with each other for non-sexual reasons. Perhaps he sold No Name Woman cloth. When he asked for sex, she probably did what she was told, for, “she... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
No Name Woman married a man from the next village. They had not yet met, so she stood... (full context)
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
As punishment for her crime against the family, No Name Woman sat alone at meals. There was, according to Kingston’s parents, an “outcast table.” Chinese people... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
No Name Woman technically belonged to her husband’s parents. In Chinese tradition, daughters-in-law lived with their husbands’ parents.... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
All of No Name Woman ’s brothers, including Kingston’s father, “became western men.” When the family’s goods were divided, three... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Kingston wonders what No Name Woman may have enjoyed about “her friend.” Maybe she liked the way his “hair was tucked... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
...repeated the technique on her daughters. Knowing how much pain this caused, Kingston hopes that No Name Woman ’s lover appreciated her smooth brow. (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Silence vs. Speech Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience  Theme Icon
Paying such attention to her looks, Kingston imagines No Name Woman would have caused gossip. She may also have piqued the curiosity of other men, even... (full context)
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Silence vs. Speech Theme Icon
Silence was important, too. At the dinner table, no one spoke. No Name Woman never said “her inseminator’s name.” Kingston thinks that it could have been a man within... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Silence vs. Speech Theme Icon
...the future,” due to their inability to have “true offspring.” The villagers got angry at No Name Woman for acting as though “she could have a private life” which did not concern them... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
After the villagers attacked their home, No Name Woman ’s family believed that she had cursed them. They were certain that death was coming.... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Kingston thinks that the No Name Woman ’s act of going to the pigsty to give birth may have been her last... (full context)
Storytelling and Identity Theme Icon
Gender Roles in Chinese Culture Theme Icon
Silence vs. Speech Theme Icon
...whose ancestors they may be.” In a similar vein, Kingston devotes pages of paper to No Name Woman , despite her sense that her aunt’s spirit does not wish her well. Kingston, after... (full context)