Mother as Villain and Victim in Joy Luck Club
In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan focuses on several mother-daughter relationships. One of the relationships explored is that between an immigrant Chinese mother and her American born daughter Jing-mei. The mother expects Jing-mei to be a prodigy child - while pursuing this dream she unintentionally creates a serious conflict between her and her daughter.
To fulfill her unrealistic expectations, the mother pushes Jing-mei to be the best in anything and everything. At first, the reader may perceive the mother as the villain in the story; however, the mother just wants her daughter to have the life that she never had. Jing-mei does not understand her intentions.
Jing-mei's mother thought opportunity was everywhere in America, "America was where all my mother's hopes lay" (Tan 1208). The mother lost everything when she moved from China to San Francisco in 1949. In China she lost her family, her spouse, and she had to abandon her twin baby girls (Tan 1208). This implies that her mother had a difficult life and wanted to start a new life in America.
Unfamiliar with the customs of America, she had been brought up in a strict Chinese culture. Her mother probably raised her the same way, and therefore, that is where she learned her parenting skills. The Chinese life is strict, more so than the American life, and that was the only way the mother knew how to raise her daughter. The mother seemed to be the villain in the story, but she was only trying to be the caring parent the best way she knew how. She only wanted her daughter to be the best, but a conflict started when the daughter failed to meet her expectations.
In the beginning Jing-mei, the daughter, seemed to like being a prodigy because she thought she could become perfect and thought her mother would adore her. She became impatient when she could not become perfect fast enough. She soon realized that she had another prodigy side to her, a side she had never known before. She looked in the mirror and "The girl staring back at me was angry, powerful. She and I were the same. I had new thoughts, willful thoughts-or rather, thoughts filled with lots of wont's. I won't let her change me, I promised myself. I won't be what I'm not" (Tan 1209). From then on she resisted her mother and denied herself the chance to become anything she wanted, or at least anything her mother wanted.
As time went on, her mother seemed to give up hope until one day she decided that her daughter should start piano lessons. Every day Jing-mei was sent to piano lessons and every day she grew more and more determined not to be a good piano player. She did not want to give her mother the satisfaction of her doing well so she played any way she wanted. When it was time for the recital, "She started to believe that a prodigy side of her really did exist" (Souris 92). The recital was filled with errors and after that Jing-mei's...