The plight of Asian Americans is an interesting topic. Kingston uses her novel to tackle a very specific group that endures very specific hardships. In “No Name Woman,” Kingston uses the main character to show how careful a woman must be regarding her feelings and desires. In the Asian American culture, honor is everything, and to dishonor or disgrace your name was essentially sealing your own doom. For a woman, “the work of preservation demands that the feelings playing about in one’s guts not be turned into action.” (Kingston 8). In many cultures, not only Asian cultures, women are expected to be perfect workers. If a woman does not fulfill one of her domestic duties, she is a failure, but if she does a perfect job, she receives no reward and usually no recognition. The man was allowed to engage in immoral behavior with little punishment and never repudiation, but a woman could easily be disowned for a mistake. A woman could easily become “a child with no descent line…ghost-like.” (Kingston 15) This gender role-playing was not even considered discriminatory until a few decades ago.
The novel takes an interesting twist when the narrator changes her point of view so that she imagines herself in the world of Fa Mu Lan. By being a woman warrior, she is switching roles and well, kind of enjoying it. The ability to take life, define your own honor, confront your enemies, and gain power are all things she could not dream of doing as a household woman. The submissiveness of the Asian American woman is ridiculously constraining. The unbreakable chains unwillingly placed on her by simply being a woman in real life, do not exist in her epic childhood fantasy. As a warrior, she can break past the rotten thoughts that, “girls are maggots in the rice,” or that “it is more profitable to raise geese than daughters.” (Kingston 43) In real life, she cannot stand up against blatant racists and murderous communists. As Fa Mu Lan, she can save thousands, she can intimidate, she can love, she can hate, she can do all the things she could never do in her real-life jail formed from steel bars of racism and cold concrete walls of male chauvinism. As Fa My Lan, she can fight for herself and never be a victim of “the sellers with their ropes, cages, and water tanks…the sellers of little girls.” (Kingston 79). As Fa Mu Lan, she knows “[she] would be happy.” (Kingston 31)
I don’t know what Jose is talking about. Mulan is a good movie.