Objective for this Page: To relate the story to your life and contemporary issues, identifying specific cultural values

These questions encourage you to relate your own life to the story that Kingston tells us in “No Name Woman.”   

1.  This cautionary tale is meant to persuade Kingston to conform to her parents’ values. What is the argument behind the narrative the mother tells? Does it make sense to you? What might be a contemporary argument in a middle-class American family?

2.  Were you ever put at an “outcast table” (para. 19) or anything comparable in your house or school? Did you ever hear of such a ritual? What did happen when you were punished? What kinds of things were you punished for? Why do you think these specific things were chosen?

3.  Is this also a tale about gender inequality? How does Kingston suggest this? How are relations between men and women portrayed here?

4. Kingston talks a good deal about spirits and ghosts. How do they function in this essay? Which parts of this piece seem true to you? Which seem fictional? Why does she blend these elements together?

5.  Sexual mores change over time and from country to country. What specifically about the aunt’s context made her transgression so severe? How would her “crime” be viewed in contemporary America? Why? What do you think an ideal response would be?

These questions are found in Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000: 1034-35.

Assessment: Complete an essay or oral presentation responding to a question. Remember to provide specific examples (evidence) from “No Name Woman” and from your life

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Click to the VCCS home page.This website was developed by Dr. Kelli Olson at Piedmont Virginia Community College with the assistance of Mary Clare DiGiacomo, Coordinator of Distance Learning and Instructional Technology Design. It was funded by a grant from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) in the Spring Semester, 2004.  © 2004 by the Virginia Community College System.