The story of “No Name Woman” by Maxine Hong Kingston is most defiantly built on its foundation of New Historicism. New Historicism situates texts as products of historical context (The Poetry Foundation). New Historicism causes readers to think of the real truth behind the story and interpret events as products of our time and culture (Tompkins). In simpler terms, New Historicism is a way authors can get readers to look back and read into the history of the context. History is a huge part of any culture today; it is the foundation of any good non-fictional and, in some instances, fictional stories of any authors.
Knowing the backdrop of your context could get you more involved and interested in the story, instead of falling asleep. New Historicism helps me to take events and information from the past and in stories and tie them into examples from modern life today. For instance, in “No Name Woman” by Maxine Hong Kingston, New Historicism helps readers understand and make connections as to why No Name Woman actually committed suicide. With the help of a historical background of Chinese culture and information on female suicide rates in China, I was able to make my conclusion. Conclusion came up that No Name Women was emotionally beaten up inside by everyone around her. China’s society greatly looks down on those who commit adultery; therefore they are treated badly and lead to commit suicide.
In “No Name Woman” by Maxine Hong Kingston, mistakes were made and lives were taken. While her husband was away, No Name Woman became pregnant with another man’s baby. “She could not have been pregnant, you see, because her husband had been gone for years” (“No Name Women” par. 6). Unlike in America, this is a huge and dishonorable crime to commit for a woman in China. Committing adultery in China will ruin a women’s reputation for life. After this crime she committed, she was immediately looked down upon and hated. Everyone started to ignore her like she never existed in their own sacred world. Even her own sister ignored her growing belly. As time grew longer and her child was born, the town went into rage. Angry townspeople gathered around and attacked the family of the No Name Woman.
They ruined her family’s crops and even their very own home. After this terrible incident she felt totally useless, lonely, invisible, betrayed, and unwanted. All of these feeling bottled up inside her and she had no one to let them out too, for everyone hated and disrespected her. Therefore, she had no other choice but to commit suicide. Not only did she kill herself, but also took the life of her precious baby along with her. She did this because she knew her child would not grow up in a beautiful world and would be better of dying here with her. However, No Name Woman did not just leave; she went out with a bang by dying in the family water well. Since both of the bodies lay rotting inside the well, the water was full of disease and very undrinkable. This was her way of no longer being invisible, and therefore not be forgotten (“No Name Women”).
No Name Woman was number 499 of the 500 women who committed suicide that day. China, without a doubt has one of the highest suicide rates for women in the whole world besides the small island of Soa Toame. To demonstrate, “Stop for a minute and think about it. 500 females per day, that’s 3,500 suicides per week. Fifteen thousand per month; 182,500 suicides per year” (China One Child Policy Results in High Female Suicide Rate).There are many factors behind the death of No Name Woman and the rest of the 499. Some examples include: health care, finance, culture, work, One Child Policy, marriage, and many more. No name women committed suicide because of the harsh Chinese culture. After all, “Adultery is extravagance” (“No Name Women” par. 9). Everyone came down on her the second they found out she was dishonest to her husband while he was away working. For she had become pregnant with another man’s child during the period her husband was gone.
Furthermore, Suicides in rural areas cover for approximately 75% of all the female suicides in China (China’s Suicide Rates among World’s Highest). Rates are way higher because of the amount of work and pressure the women are put through. For example the husbands in China are given the privilege to travel outside of China and the rural life to find jobs. Women on the other hand are forced to stay at home. Here they cook, clean, and take care of their families. They also must take care of all the considered men’s work here in America; farm work. “She plants vegetable gardens rather than lawns; she carries the odd-shaped tomatoes home from the fields and eats food left for the gods.” (No Name Women par. 9) Women must plow, plant, and harvest all the crops along with tending to the families livestock. Of course along with taking care of crops come the deadly pesticides used to treat them. Since the women can easily get ahold of these pesticides, they account for over 50% of all female suicides (China’s Suicide Rate among World’s Highest).
Research has shown that if individuals have too much contact with these pesticides, they can have harmful effects and cause people to become mentally ill (Women and Suicide in Rural China). If women do happen to become mentally ill need treatment from a hospital, they cannot stay for long. As soon as they show any signs of recovery they are asked to leave in order to return to tend their families and crops. Hospital bills can often add up quickly; everyone understands that. However, it is very common in China for husbands to divorces their wives because of their high expenses. Even though women do not ask for many wants, their husbands hate that they have needs. Another factor that really contributes to women’s suicides in China would be the One Child Policy. “What is one thing that differentiates China from the rest of the world? The One Child Policy” (Rising Suicide Rates among Rural Women in China).
Girls in China are considered useless and would rather be wanted dead than alive. Mothers often have to abort their child if it is a girl because only one child is allowed in China. Families would much rather have male children because they are more respected and they can carry on the family name once they marry (Rising Suicide Rates among Rural Women in China). No Name Women felt useless because she was born a woman and was neglected countless times. For example, no body commented on her growing belly and no one congratulated her when her child was born into the cruel world she lived in. To illustrate, “No one said anything. We did not discuss it” (No Name Women par.6). Many readers are proud of No Name Women for giving birth to her child in order to stand up to everyone around her and show them they could not take her down.
However, in the end No Name Woman took her child with her into the well so they could both be together in a better place. Finally, many break-through conclusions that helped better understand the text of “No Name Woman” came through. For example, if women are removed before their illness are fixed they will eventually come back, maybe even worse than before. If suicide interventions and hospitals would allow women with illness to stay till full recovery suicides would be drastically lowered. Also, if the One Child Policy was expelled, women’s depression rates would lower causing a domino effect to also lower the suicide rates. Women who have to abort their children are forced to live with the pain and regret of murdering their very own loved one. No Name Woman was emotionally beaten inside and therefore driven to kill herself.
After all, the harsh Chinese culture totally neglected her after she conceived a baby while her husband was away. American citizens would think of that as not a huge deal because it occurs daily; however culture in China has many different aspects than the United States. After No Name Woman because “invisible” to her family and the rest of her country, she decided to get out. However, she did not want to be a coward and just take her own death, but rather leave a mark of those who neglected her for the rest of their lives. She did this my taking her child and she into to families well; here is where two lives were sadly taken. When the family found the bodies, their water was contaminated and they were left with a thousand thoughts running through their minds; why did we do this to her?
•“China’s Suicide Rate among World’s Highest.” China Daily information Co..China Daily, 31 2012. Web. 31 Oct 2012. •Hasija, Namrata. “Rising Suicide Rates among Rural Women in China.” Institute Of Peace & Conflict Studies. Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, 26 2011. Web. 31 Oct 2012. •Miller, Heidi. “China One Child Policy Results in High Female Suicide Rate.” LifeNews. LifeNews.com, 29 2012. Web 31 Oct 2012. •Miller, Heidi. “Chinese Women are Killing Themselves at Astronomical Rates: is the One-Child Policy to Blame?” LifeSiteNews. LifeSiteNews.com, 03 2012. Web. 31 Oct 2012. •“Woman and Suicide in Rural China.” World Health Organization. WHO, 12 2009. Web. 31 Oct 2012.