The Warrior Woman by Maxine Kingston is a multiple story book that focuses on the stories of five women told in five chapters. The chapters integrate Kingston’s own life experience through a series of spoken word stories her mother tells her. The first chapter in The Warrior Woman is titled “No-Name Woman”. This chapter begins with a spoken word story about an aunt that Maxine never knew she that had. The chapter continues with her mother telling Kingston the cautionary tale of her aunt in hopes that Kingston will learn from the story, but instead, Kingston decides to write about the woman, intrigued by the ordeals she went through.
By having an illegitimate child, Maxine’s aunt brought disgrace to their family, which is why Maxine never knew who she was. Out of grief and shame, Maxine’s aunt killed herself and her baby by jumping into the family well in China. Maxine’s mothers recounts the cautionary story of her aunt not so she has fond memories of her aunt, but as a warning that her aunt was misguided and that Maxine should not follow the same path. Maxine was told that she was never allowed to mention her aunt’s name out loud again after that story. This troubled Kingston.
Throughout the entire tale from her mother, and throughout the entire recount of her aunt’s past, the aunt remains unnamed- giving her the title the “No-Name Woman.” Rather than being shocked and appalled by the story recounted to her about her aunt, Kingston is intrigued and wants to know more, but her family has all but forgotten about the no-name woman, so author Kingston is left to her own artistic devices to create a story for her aunt in her head and the heads of the readers.
That is why she decides to depict the story of her aunt through Kingston’s own memoir. Through Kingston’s own vivid imagination, her aunt comes to life and and Maxine recreates the ways that her aunt attracted a companion, got pregnant, and ultimately took the life of herself and her unborn child. Comparing her aunt’s actions of quiet rebellion against the community to her own rebellion, Kingston eloquently develops a story highlighting the elaborate details of her aunts life, from early adulthood to death.
By the end of writing her memoir, Kingston no longer knows if she has done her aunt harm or justice. The story of No-Name Woman serves as a backdrop for Kingston’s own experience growing up as a Chinese-American, torn between the world of Chinese customs and traditions that surround her like “ghosts” and her new, permissive American environment. Stylistically, the chapter “No-Name Woman” from The Warrior Woman is a blend of imaginative detail, rich metaphor, and personal musings. The narrative jumps between past and present, fact and fiction, as well as Kingston’s life and the society in which her aunt lived.