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Comparing Tradition And Change In Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife And The Joy Luck Club

3178 words - 13 pages

Tradition and Change in The Kitchen God's Wife and The Joy Luck Club          

    Throughout the novels The Kitchen God's Wife and The Joy Luck Club, author Amy Tan conveys the message of tradition and change. Each novel contains sections about mothers talking and relating their stories to their daughters. The daughters in The Joy Luck Club hear stories about loss and happiness, and joy and hate. Each of the four mothers tell these stories to their daughters as lessons, or offerings for their futures. They tell the stories to show how lucky their daughters have been, yet how their lives will never be the same as their own lives have been. They try to help their daughters on some level with these stories. Yet they comprehend the fact that they could never understand their mothers. The main character, Pearl, in The Kitchen God's Wife talks about her life and her mother. Pearl, and her mother Winnie, the other half of the mother/daughter pair attend a funeral as Pearl narrates. They then go to Winnie's home, as Winnie dotes on Pearl and her two daughters. Pearl's heart breaks as she notices all the small intricacies of her mother, and all the little things that her mother does to illustrate her love. As Pearl and her family drive away from her mother's house, Winnie begins to narrate, to her daughter about her life, her hardships, and her loves. Through these two novels, the five mother/daughter pairs and the perception of mother to daughter, the theme of mother daughter relationships is distinctly portrayed.

Pearl views her mother in many different ways. Often, through her mother's movements, or appearance, she will view her mother as fragile, yet strong and knowing, "...I imagine my mother's parchment like skin, furiously pulling out stray leaves, tucking in sharp ends of wire, inserting each flower into its proper place." (Tan, 19) "She is wearing a new blue dress she made herself-- in fact, designed herself...It makes my mother's thin body look waiflike." (Tan, 39). Yet, with even more consistency, she will view her mother with irritancy or sadness. "On the surface, Winnie's ways are more irritating than mysterious to the daughter." (Yglesias) Even in the first sentence the reader lays eyes on, Pearl demonstrates these grievances she harbors, "Whenever my mother talks to me, she begins the conversation as if we were already in the middle of an argument." (Tan, 3) and further in her segments of the novel, she indicates quite a few "problems" she has with her mother. Similarly, Tan also has these problems with her mother "Tan felt that she had disappointed her mother when she dropped out of medical school..."(Feng) "I secretly worried that I had missed better opportunities. My mother had put those thoughts in my head." (Tan, 8) "To this day, it drives me crazy, listening to her various hypothesis, the way religion, medicine and superstition all merge with her own beliefs." (Tan, 27) Yet, sadly, Pearl also says that "there's a lot I...

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