The Spectrum of Silence: A Study of Power and Oppression in the works of Kingston and Ng Open Access

Yang, Cynthia (Spring 2020)

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In a society that values speech, silence is often perceived as an absence. In Asian American literature in particular, silence often has negative connotations as it perpetuates the stereotype of the inscrutable Oriental, functioning as subservience or docility. However, studying representations of silence and secrecy within Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior and Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires, silence shifts away from the one-dimensional purpose of oppression. Through three forms of silence—enforced silence, chosen silence, and breakage of silence—I attempt to show how silence is not only indicative of acquiescence and oppression, but also of empowerment.

Table of Contents

I.        Introduction:

Asian American Literature -- 1 Project of Silence -- 10

II.        Chapter One: Enforced Silence -- 19

III.        Chapter Two: Chosen Silence -- 33

IV.        Chapter Three: Breakage of Silence -- 48

V.        Works Cited -- 60

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