Kingston writes about an aunt whose existence is a mystery. Her mother brings the idea of her aunt up. But we never really know if the aunt exists. Kingston uses this story from her mother to also show different sides of her Chinese culture. One of the central themes discussed in this essay is femininity. Kingston illustrates how her aunt may have exaggerated her femininity in hopes of seducing a man. She also juxtaposes this luxurious image of her aunt with the image of the other women in the village who often wore conservative hairstyles. She goes on to explain that women were not supposed to put too much effort into their appearances. Throughout this essay a lot of emphasis is put on this idea of being too feminine and how much attention it would draw. Kingston explains the delicate balance that needs to be maintained to be an accepted woman in this village. On one hand women basically do not exist without men. There is no reason that a woman should be associating with a man unless there is a reason for it. At the same time, this gives all the power to the men and they are able to treat the women however they want. This begs the question: Did Kingston’s aunt seek this man out? Or was it the other way around? Kingston illustrates her aunt with a lot of imagination as she is given little information to go on. Kingston uses the cues of her culture to put the pieces of her aunt’s story together.
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