Strengths and Weaknesses in The Joy Luck Club

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Many women find that their mothers have the greatest influence on their lives and the way their strengths and weaknesses come together. In Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, the lives of four Chinese mothers and their Chinese-American daughters are followed through vignettes about their upbringings and interactions. One of the mothers, An-Mei Hsu, grows up away from her mother who has become the 4th wife of a rich man; An-Mei is forced to live with her grandmother once her mother is banned from the house, but eventually reunites and goes to live in the man’s house with her mother. Her daughter, Rose, has married an American man, Ted, but their marriage begins to end as he files for divorce; Rose becomes depressed and unsure what to do, despite her mother’s advice. An-Mei has strengths and weaknesses that shape her own courageous actions, and ultimately have an influence on her daughter.
Surroundings greatly influence and affect the way An-Mei’s personality is shaped. Her stern upbringing from her grandmother teaches her a silent obedience that she will continue to struggle with as a result of her fear of this woman. An-Mei states, “All my life, Popo scared me.” (33). Popo continued to solidify An-Mei's obedience through stories, like one of a girl saying ‘no’, shaking her head until her brain was liquefied and poured out from her ears. However, once these surroundings changed, new and more individual traits appear. She “learned to shout” (272) and learns to stand up for herself; she “showed Second Wife the fake pearl necklace she had given [her] and crushed it under [her] foot.” (272). The act of destroying the gift Second Wife had given her shows just how powerful An-Mei can be. An-Mei's surroundings and the change of these surroundings formed who she is.
An-Mei's courage before and after her change in surroundings help shape her tremendously as well. Despite the fact that she lived in a house where she feared and was abused by her elders, she managed to escape that life. Her courageous act of leaving with her mother in spite of the threats her uncle gave: “’…If you follow this woman, you can never lift your head again,’” (245) shaped her by resulting in a move to a more confident place, though she does not realize it at first. She will not only be moving to a literal confident place where she is in a better social standing, but also a mental place where she can recognize her own choices as valid. The second instance where her courage is shown is...

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