Russell Baker Growing Up Essay

Russell Baker Growing Up Essay

… Maxine Hong-Kingston describes the difficulties of growing up a Chinese-American girl with her powerful essay entitled, The Language of Silence. The author begins the essay with an anecdote about her mother cutting her frenulum, her tongue, so that she might be able to speak better. Ironically, this act had the opposite effect: the young girl used silence to cope with her fears and anxieties about straddling two cultures. Hong-Kingstons essay is filled with stories like this one, in which the young Chinese-American girl struggles with her identity as being both Chinese and a girl. The …

… segregate people. The author notes how language distinguishes her as a Chinese-American, and specifically as a Chinese-American girl. Hong-Kingston hides behind a wall of silence so that she may formulate her identity separate from language. She views language as serving a primarily social function in her essay, The Language of Silence. In order to negotiate between her identity as Chinese and her identity as American, Hong-Kingston evaluates and scrutinizes the role of language in forming a cultural and gender identity.

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