In The Woman Warrior, we hear how Kingston's aunt gave birth to a child outside of marriage. This was deemed to be a terrible crime that brought dishonor to her family and to the whole village. In response to this supposed crime, the villagers destroyed the aunt's family home as well as the family's livestock and crops. The aunt was shunned by her family and by her community, and gave birth to the baby in a pigsty. Shortly afterwards, unable to cope with the shame and persecution, the aunt killed herself and the baby.
In contemporary 1920s America the aunt would not have faced such horrendous punishment for the supposed crime of having sex and giving birth outside of marriage. She may, however, have been shunned by society and perhaps even labelled a 'fallen woman.' She would also have found it much more difficult thereafter to find herself a husband.
In 1920s America, attitudes to women who had sex and children outside of marriage, although still very conservative by today's standards, were becoming more liberal. This was in large part due to the roles that women played in World War Two. During the war, many women took on the jobs and responsibilities previously occupied and undertaken by men, because many of those same men were called away to fight in the war. Women showed that they were perfectly capable of doing the same jobs as men, just as well as men, and this gave a boost to the feminist movement. As the feminist movement grew in the 1920s, attitudes towards supposed female transgressions became correspondingly more liberal.