The Joy Luck Club Essay

2435 words - 10 pages

The Joy Luck Club

In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan’s first novel, short-story-like vignettes alternate
back and forth between the lives of four Chinese women in pre-1949 China and lives of
their American-born daughters in California. The book is a mediation on the divided
nature of this emigrant life. The novel is narrated horizontally as well as vertically;
friendships and rivalries develop among the daughters as well as the mothers.(Matuz 92) As Jing Mei Woo describes, “Auntie Lin and my mother were both best friends and
arch-enemies who spent a lifetime comparing their children. I was one month older than
Waverly Jong, Auntie Lin’s prized daughter. From the time we were babies, our mothers compared the creases in our belly buttons, how shapely our earlobes were, how fast we healed when we scraped our knees, how thick and dark our hair was, how many shoes we wore out in one year, and later, how smart Waverly was at playing chess, how many trophies she had won last month, how many newspapers had printed her name, how many cities she had visited.” (95) In Amy Tan’s novel she shows that the bond between a
family is the strongest bond between any type of people.

Tan has written a novel without a central plot but with characters and events that are as powerful as myth, and which often entangle it. The stories of the aunties are interspersed with events involving the daughters, so that China and America come
together in fantastic and unconnected succession. Tan lets each woman tell her own
story; at the center of each tale is the ferocious love between a mother and daughter. (89)

“ Even though I taught my daughter the opposite, she still came out the same way! Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl. And I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way.” (Tan 92)

Born in Oakland, California, in 1952 to a father educated as an engineer in
Beijing and a mother raised in a well-to-do Shanghai family, Amy Tan grew up in an
American world that was far from the childhood world of her parents. (Matuz 92)

When pollsters ask people what is most important to happiness, the overwhelming
majority give the same response: a good family life. Most individuals need the care,
comfort, and security that a resilient, loving family provides. Positivity plays a large part in the dynamics of healthy families. This influence, together with the security a family gains from being well loved, is one of the most compelling justifications for the existence of a family. (Time-Life 120)

Anthropologists agree that the family is a central, positive institution in every society. (Ryder 23) As we bog down in the drama of daily living, a focus on the world can be hard to hold on to, but the support of a family helps. Supportiveness may be one of the most valuable tools for relationship building...

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