Breaking Silences: Telling Asian American Female Subversive Stories in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and Fae Myenne Ng’s Bone

Chingyen Yang Myer


The paradox of silence has been an on-going topic of interest in Asian American literary and critical analysis. In the dominant American cultural discourse, silence is often viewed as passivity and weakness while for people from non-Western cultures, silence can be a powerful and profound method of communication. As American-born female Chinese American writers, Maxine Hong Kingston (1940-) and Fae Myenne Ng (1956-) face dual marginalisation and subjugation in both the dominant American and Chinese American cultures. They are confronted with the “impulse to speak and the impulse not to speak” (Yamamoto 129). Keeping in mind King-Kok Cheung’s assertion that articulation rather than silence is the ultimate act of resistance against patriarchal and racist domination (“Don’t Tell” 400), I examine how Kingston and Ng confront the silence that undermines their agency as female and marginalised subjects through the development of an eloquent female discourse. Through their retelling of family and communal stories from female perspectives, I demonstrate how their breaking of silence is an act of disruption and resistance against erasure by their dual cultural traditions and American political and institutional apparatuses.

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