Analysis Of The Joy Luck Club Cinema Experiences Paper

2556 words - 11 pages

Culture defines us as human beings, bringing us together when shared and separating us when different. It is the amalgamation of traditions, language, history, arts, ideologies, and stories that humans learn to identify with from birth to death. However, over time social or political events— such as war, immigration, famine, and disease— can cause a dramatic change in culture. In Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club, four Chinese-born mothers leave China in the mid-1900s, immigrating to the United States where they raise their children. Although the mothers are Chinese born and bred, their children grow up with a combination of Chinese and American cultural backgrounds, resulting in identity confusion and abandonment of certain Chinese traditions. By the same token, the Igbo culture of Umuofia in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe undergoes significant changes as the Christian missionaries take over the village, converting the younger generation from the traditional Igbo religion to Christianity. Despite the stark cultural differences between 1980s San Franciscans and early-1900s Nigerians, the Chinese-American daughters in The Joy Luck Club and the newly converted Christian children in Things Fall Apart are similar in that they all live drastically different lives than their traditional parents. In both novels, extreme social and political upheavals cause cultural gaps between generations of parents and children, leading to an overall evolution of culture.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is written in vignettes of four Chinese mothers and their experiences growing up in China, along with stories of their four American daughters. The mothers’ stories include their immigration to the U.S., along with the assimilation and Americanization of their families. The daughters’ stories encompass their childhoods growing up in San Francisco and their adulthoods, dealing with marriage, career, and identity confusion. Though the other mother-daughter pairings are strained, Suyuan and Jing-mei Woo’s relationship goes beyond that as they are physically separated by life and death: Suyuan had died three months before the events of the American vignettes take place. Jing-mei tells a second-hand version of Suyuan’s story, describing how she formed the first Joy Luck Club during the Sino-Japanese War in the 1940s to focus on being optimistic despite her harrowing circumstances. After her husband was killed, Suyuan escaped her hometown of Kweilin on foot, abandoning her twin daughters on the side of the road when she was most destitute. Forced to make immense sacrifices, Suyuan eventually remarried, immigrated to the United States, and raised her youngest daughter, Jing-mei (also known as June). Even after beginning a new life in America, Suyuan continued to search for her twin daughters until her death. Suyuan always maintained hope in spite of her difficult circumstances, as shown by her founding another Joy Luck Club in San Francisco and continuing to look for her...

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