Power 2 Essay

This essay has a total of 1271 words and 5 pages.

Power 2


When a person has enough power in a society, it gives them a lot of control over certain
things. When they have this control, they can have ownership over a person or a thing. By
naming someone, or something, a person gains an unspoken ownership over him or her, they
are now in control of him or her and it has created a new identity for them and erased
their old identity. Power, naming and un-naming, control and ownership and identity are
very important elements in 'Mary'; and 'No Name Woman';. Both essays deal with power,
identity, control and ownership, while 'Mary'; focuses more on naming and 'No Name Woman';
focuses on un-naming.

One's power and position in a society can give them the 'right'; or ability to name or
un-name a person. Someone can gain this right by his or her status socially, financially,
and even racially. If it's their own child, of course, they have every right in the world
to name him or her. But in some cultures, as is evident in 'No Name Woman';, they have the
right to take away someone's name if they have disgraced their family and/or community. A
name is very significant because it gives a person a sense of who they are, an identity.
In 'No Name Woman';, Kingston's aunt had no identity except for the story her mother told
her and in 'Mary'; Marguerite's new boss, Mrs. Cullinan changed her name to Mary which
then, in a way, removed Marguerite's original identity and gave her a new one, one she
didn't want.

By changing Marguerite's name, Mrs. Cullinan proves how much power she has over a little
black servant like Marguerite. A rich white member of the society, in which Marguerite
grew up, has more power and control over things than someone of a poor background or a
black background. Mrs. Cullinan wasn't the first to incite the drastic change of
Marguerite's name, although she started it off by calling her Margaret, it was in fact,
one of her friends who suggested that 'the name's too long. I'd never bother myself. I'd
call her Mary if I was you.';(5) As if showing off to her friends, and proving that she
really does have control and power over black people, she starts calling her Mary, much to
Marguerite's disgust. Marguerite soon learned that Mrs. Cullinan had changed Miss Glory's
name twenty years ago. 'My name used to be Hallelujah. That's what Ma named me, but my
mistress give me 'Glory,' and it stuck. I likes it better too.';(7) After learning this,
Marguerite was torn between laughing at Miss. Glory's original name and crying because she
knew it wasn't the first time Mrs. Cullinan changed a name for convenience or to prove her
power. She went to great lengths to get fired from working at Mrs. Cullinan's and to get
away of the 'hellish horror of being 'called out of her name'';(6). She came in late, left
early, and didn't clean the dishes properly, among other things, much to no avail. That
is, until one day when her brother suggested to her a way to really get Mrs. Cullinan for
calling her Mary. Marguerite took away the most precious thing to Mrs. Cullinan, 'a
casserole shaped like a fish'; and the green glass coffee cups.'; (7) Mrs. Cullinan's
mother gave them to her, and Marguerite's mother gave her her name, both were precious
items that meant a lot to each of them, and by taking them away from one another, it
proved that they both had a lot of power. After Marguerite smashed the dishes, Mrs.
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