December 9th, 2010

Silence and Madness

Posted by jeannem in Uncategorized

I think that both Silence and madness are important in the last section.  However, seeing as the last four sections have been about Maxine’s need to talk-story and listen to others do the same, using her words as the woman warrior uses her sword, I think it’s safe to say that the silence part is more of an issue for Maxine.

In the last section there is the instance where she tortures a silent girl at school in order to get her to talk.  She pulls her hair, pinches her cheeks, and calls her names at first all with the intention of hearing her voice.  And even though the girl won’t do anything but cry, Maxine knows that she can talk because she has heard her and she is determined to get her to do so.  The reasoning behind her dertermination is simple.  If you are silent, you are not able to take care of yourself.  Your mother and father and siblings cannot take care of you forever.  This kind of thinking reminds me of the second section where Maxine claims to be similar to the woman warrior.  No, she wasn’t trained in martial arts or sword fighting, but she was trained in talk-story.  In this case, Maxine’s words are her weapons against those who wrong her and I think that she shows us how important she thinks they are with this story.

Also, I think the part where Maxine begins to confess all her wrong doings to her mother is also imporant.  Talking, in this situation, is kind of freeing in a way.  It is something that when used appropriately can liberate one from their sins just like going to a church for confession as Maxine states in this section.

One last thing that I thought was interesting was the fact that Maxine’s mother cut her tongue when she was a child.  Maxine grows up obsessed with the fact that this has happened to her and comes to believe that her mother did it so that she cannot talk, but after her rant to the family about going to college and whatever else, she finds out from her mother that her tongue was cut so that she could talk better.  I think this is not only important for Maxine’s character, but also for her mother’s.  This adds to my theory in the last blog that Maxine’s mother is a person who defies the stereotypical female role in her society.  She is a chinese woman, raised in cultural customs that forbade her to be anything but a slave, but she became so much more.  She cut her daughter’s tongue in a way so that she could talk better and I think that in a way she is trying to help her daughter gain the same wonderful things she did without outwardly alerting her of that fact.

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