Mothers and Daughters in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club
Throughout Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club, the reader can see the difficulites in the mother-daughter relationships. The mothers came to America from China hoping to give their daughters better lives than what they had. In China, women were “to be obedient, to honor one’s parents, one’s husband, and to try to please him and his family,” (Chinese-American Women in American Culture). They were not expected to have their own will and to make their own way through life. These mothers did not want this for their children so they thought that in America “nobody [would] say her worth [was] measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch…nobody [would] look down on her…” (3). To represent everything that was hoped for in their daughters, the mothers wanted them to have a “swan- a creature that became more than what was hoped for,” (3). This swan was all of the mothers’ good intentions. However, when they got to America, the swan was taken away and all she had left was one feather.
America was not everything the mothers had expected for their daughters. The mothers always wanted to give their daughters the feather to tell of their hardships, but they never could. They wanted to wait until the day that they could speak perfect American English. However, they never learned to speak their language, which prevented them from communicating with their daughters. All the mothers in The Joy Luck Club had so much hope for their daughters in America, but instead their lives ended up mirroring their mother’s life in China. All the relationships had many hardships because of miscommunication from their different cultures. As they grew older the children realized that their mothers only wanted the best for them.
As they children were growing up they did not “know anything [about their mother]. She was my mother,” (31). Jing-Mei says this to her aunts after her mother had died, and she had to take your position in joy luck. She felt like she never really knew her mother because of their miscommunication. Suyuan Woo, Jing-Mei’s mother, had many hopes and good intentions for her daughter. While Jing-Mei wanted to be herself and still please her mother, Suyuan wanted her daughter to be a child prodigy. Always wanting the best for her daughter, Suyuan hoped Jing-Mei would one day become an extraordinary pianist. Although Jing-Mei played the piano, she never put forth much effort into the music because her best was not good enough for her mother. Nonetheless, she stopped playing the piano. “I could only be me,” (154). She could not be something that she was not; she could not live up to her mother’s expectations. This symbolized one of Jing-Mei’s songs, “Pleading Child.” Suyuan continues to put all the pressure on Jing-Mei so that she will not become like her mother for all the reasons she had come to America; hopes for a better life.
As Jing-Mei grows older, her mother decides...