Mothers, Daughters and Common Ground in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club
Here is a journey that not only started "a thousand Li away", but from generations upon generations of tradition. The Joy Luck Club travels over time and continents to present the background and turmoil of eight amazing women. All of these women have had to deal with the issues of culture, gender, and family, each in their own way, yet all similarly. Amy Tan dedicates her novel to her mother with the comment "You asked me once what I would remember… This, and much more." Each of the mothers in Tan's novel wanted to teach their daughters the lessons learned in China while giving them the comforts of America. But language and culture barriers diverge the women until they were almost lost to each other. Each character had to take their own journey to finally understand what drove them apart and find their common ground.
Each Mother brought baggage with her across the pacific. They wanted to teach their daughters from all of their pain and suffering, but were never able to communicate the complexities of their life. Suyuan Woo struggles to explain herself to her daughter "'This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.' And she waited, year after year, for the day she could tell her daughter this in perfect American English"(3). The journey that brought Suyuan to America was long and full of hardship. From the Japanese invasion of Kweilin were she lost her husband and had to leave her daughters, to her assimilation in America. Suyuan wanted to teach her daughter about these hardships so that she could understand the extent of her potential. " My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America…America was were all my mother's hopes lie"(141). Suyuan wanted her daughter, Jing-Mei, to use the opportunity provided to her in America, were she would be valued for her accomplishments and not "by the loudness of her husbands belch"(3). An old Chinese man explained that when a son was born in China it was a "big happiness" but when a baby girl was born it could only be considered a "small happiness"(Small). Suyuan did not want this for her daughter.
Lindo Jong had a different struggle in China but a similar lesson to teach her daughter, Waverly. Lindo was promised to a man before she could speak, and by the time she was 12 was living the life of a Chinese wife. In order to avoid shaming her parents, Lindo had to become silent and subservient with her new family. On her wedding day, however, she recognized her strength.
And then I realized it was the first time I could see the power of the wind…I was strong. I was pure. I had genuine thoughts inside that no one could see…I was like the wind. I made a promise to myself: I would always remember my parents' wishes, but I would never forget myself (53).
She trusted herself and was able to escape the life that she had been shackled to. She brought this...