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Quotes

Quote #4

I thought talking and not talking made the difference between sanity and insanity. Insane people were the ones who couldn't explain themselves. There were many crazy girls and women. Perhaps the sane people stayed in China to build the new, sane society. Or perhaps our little village had become odd in its isolation (5.111).

Kingston writes only about "crazy girls and women" here, not mentioning men at all. Madness is a gendered state of mind in this novel.

Quote #5

I thought every house had to have its crazy woman or crazy girl, every village its idiot. Who would be It at our house? Probably me. My sister did not start talking among nonfamily until a year after I started, but she was neat while I was messy, my hair tangled and dusty (5.117).

Kingston's assumption that every group has a crazy woman creates the archetype of crazy woman as a familiar thing. But is craziness still crazy if it is expected?

Quote #6

And there were adventurous people inside my head to whom I talked. With them I was frivolous and violent, orphaned. I was white and had red hair, and I rode a white horse. Once when I realized how often I went away to see these free movies, I asked my sister, just checking to see if hearing voices in motors and seeing cowboy movies on blank walls was normal, I asked, "Uh," trying to be casual, "do you talk to people that aren't real inside your mind?" (5.117).

Kingston suggests that madness could really just be another term for having an active imagination.

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