Americanization in The Joy Luck Club
Oftentimes the children of immigrants to the United States lose the sense of cultural background in which their parents had tried so desperately to instill within them. According to Walter Shear, “It is an unseen terror that runs through both the distinct social spectrum experienced by the mothers in China and the lack of such social definition in the daughters’ lives.” This “unseen terror” is portrayed in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club as four Chinese women and their American-born daughters struggle to understand one another’s culture and values. The second-generation women in The Joy Luck Club prove to lose their sense of Chinese values, becoming Americanized.
The Joy Luck Club daughters incontestably become Americanized as they continue to grow up. They lose their sense of Chinese values, or Chinese tradition in which their mothers tried to drill into their minds. The four young women adopt the American culture and way of life, and they think differently than their traditional Chinese mothers do, upsetting the mothers greatly. The daughters do not even understand the culture of their mothers, and vice versa. They find that the American way of thinking is very different from that of the Chinese.
Amy Tan is a Chinese-American author. She had become Americanized, according to her mother, who still held traditional Chinese values. They fought sometimes, just as the women and daughters of The Joy Luck Club, over who was right and who was wrong regarding many problems they encountered. Tan most likely modeled The Joy Luck Club after her relationship with her mother. She even dedicated the novel “To my mother and the memory of her mother. You asked me once what I would remember. This, and much more.” Amy Tan expertly weaves in the past of her and her mother, giving the reader a sense of each woman’s point of view.
The Chinese culture and way of thinking is expertly described by characters in The Joy Luck Club. One character, Lindo Jong, scorns the stereotypical American woman of the 1950s when she states “It’s like those ladies you see on American t.v. these days, the ones who are so happy they have washed out a stain so the clothes look better than new.” (Tan, 56) The Chinese are very traditional and conservative in their values and ideas. In The Joy Luck Club, Lindo Jong describes Chinese character as “How to obey parents and listen to your mother’s mind.” (Tan, 254) “Why easy things are not worth pursuing. How to know your own worth and polish it, never flashing it around like a cheap ring. Why Chinese thinking is best.” (Tan, 254) She truly feels that Americans are not capable of thinking in this manner, or, rather, simply do not think in this manner as Chinese people do.
Chinese people and their traditions and values are also portrayed in The Joy Luck Club. Unlike Americans, the Chinese strongly believed in traditional medicinal practices passed down from...