The Woman Warrior

Wasted Lives and the "No Name Woman" College

Hidden within “No Name Woman” are many underlying symbols and motifs, or reoccurring patterns, that work to shape the story into what it is and to help craft not only the characters’ personalities but also the overarching plot of the story. One motif that seems to be prevalent throughout the story is the reoccurrence of the idea of waste: waste of livestock, human life, and even waste of birth. This symbol of waste seems to exaggerate the theme of shame which influences every decision made in the story and not only shapes the No Name Woman but also shapes the narrator’s personal life.

Throughout “No Name Woman”, the idea of something being “wasted” surfaces repeatedly. “On the night the baby was to be born, the villagers raided our house,” says Kingston’s mother. “The villagers broke in the front and the back door… their knives dripped with blood of our animals.” (Kingston 569). Not only did the villagers slaughter the livestock, but they also destroyed many perishable goods and household objects, such as bowls, pots, rice, fruits, and vegetables. “They ripped up her clothes and shoes and broke her combs…” as well as overturning “great waist-high earthenware jugs; duck eggs, pickled fruits, and vegetables” (Kingston 569). The...

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