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Mother Is Always Right In Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

1458 words - 6 pages

Instead of beating around the bush Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club exposes the not so chipper relationships between Chinese mothers and their polar opposite Chinese-American daughters. The mothers struggle to express the importance of their Chinese heritage while also keeping balance with “good” American characteristics to their daughters; while the daughters struggle with their identities and relationships with others. The Joy Luck Club is written as a collection of flashbacks told by the Chinese mothers and their American daughters. The book ventures through time via the memories of the mothers and daughters and contrasts are made to show comparisons between the mothers’ lives versus their ...view middle of the document...

Mei wishes to “[break loose] from her parents’ cultural gravity”, because she feels “uncomfortable with…Chinese ways” (Schell). Mei was raised by a mother who tried to raise her with a Chinese background and a sense of American independence yet Mei turns out to be one-hundred percent American. Mei feels “uncomfortable” much like a foreigner around her own family and ultimately around the Joy Luck club. She sees anything Chinese as bad and does not listen but criticizes her own culture and its people. She tries to “[break] loose” from her background, but becoming the new head of the Joy Luck Club changes slowly begins to change her view of her background and family.
Even though the mothers tried hard to instill Chinese characteristics into their daughters each one of the daughters turns out to be fully Americanized. In seeing this, the mothers grow increasingly “frightened” because “in [Jing Mei] they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful as all the truths they …brought to America”(Tan 40). None of the daughters spend much time around their mothers and all of the daughters do not go to the Joy Luck Club to listen to the stories of the elders and learn of the past from the elders experiences. Because the daughters never sat to listen to the past, the daughters missed out on life lessons which ultimately caused the demise of some of their relationships and marriages. Only when it was too late did the daughters listen and “stop it” (Tan 182). When Jing Mei becomes the new head, the mothers begin to finally see a beacon of hope. They see “their own daughters…in Jing Mei” and also see a second chance in placing some Chinese character into Mei (Tan 34). The mothers are afraid of their long, hard journeys being forgotten and so they begin to “express in their fragile English” their stories to Jing Mei in a series of flashbacks (Orville). The mothers “[try to voice their] anxiety and helplessness” (Xu).They hope that Jing Mei will at least pass the experiences to the other daughters.
There are many factors in which were present that led the daughters far away from their culture. Two common factors are language perception and conflicting cultures. June mentions that "My mother and I never really understood one another. We translated each other's meanings and I seemed to hear less than what was said, while my mother heard more" (Tan 27). The mothers infer that the daughters understand what they are talking about and the mothers also fill in information that they do not understand from their daughters (Cuny Edu). In the home of the St. Clairs lives Ying ying, the mother, her daughter Lena and Lena’s father, Clifford. Despite the marriage between Ying Ying and Clifford, Clifford makes little to no effort to try and learn Chinese so that he may understand what his wife talks about. Instead Clifford leaves the translating up to Lena. Lena’s mother tells her all kinds of things which frighten her and make Lena extremely paranoid and...

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