Traversing Through Linguistic And Cultural Barriers: The Joy Luck Club Written By Amy Tan

1037 words - 4 pages

Just the other day, I had an argument with my mother about what kind of music we wanted to listen to in the car. Everyone struggles with communication and being able to identify with parents or other guardians at some point in their life. In The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan the characters must struggle not only with the generation gap, but also linguistic and cultural barriers. Despite their daughter's American upbringing, the mothers attempt to keep them submerged in Chinese culture by using language and double talk as weapons. The mothers also depend on story telling as a way to tell their daughters all about life, but these daughters are Americanized so much that this form of communication may not always be completely effective. In addition, the daughters don't know the Chinese language very well so sometimes it makes it hard for them to understand the mixed messages their mothers are trying to get through to them. One generation has so much faith in the stories and the other has so little understanding, not only because of language, but because of the ways of their new American culture.Despite their daughter's American upbringing, the mothers attempt to keep them submerged in Chinese culture by using language and double talk as weapons. Early in the novel, the Joy Luck Club members discuss the different types of mah jong and Jing Mei realizes how oppositely she and her mother spoke to one another. She plays back the conversations that she and her mother used to have about mah jong. During their talks, her mother indirectly attempted to have her daughter keep her Chinese culture a part of her daily lifestyle. One way was through Suyan's snobbish tone she used when describing Jewish mah jong. Jing Mei assumed that this disapproval was simply because of its traditions being unlike the Chinese way. Jing Mei didn't realize that putting down Jewish mah jong was really her mothers way of keeping her engulfed in Chinese culture and felt that "[Her mother's] explanations made me feel my mother and I spoke two different languages, which we did. I spoke to her in English, she answered back in Chinese." This statement is true both literally and psychologically. Jing Mei and her mother both spoke in different languages, with Suyan speaking as an attempt at keeping her daughter in culture, and Jing Mei with a bitter attempt to retaliate against her mother.The mothers also depend on story telling as a way to tell their daughters all about life, yet these daughters are Americanized to such a degree that this form of communication may not always be completely effective. Storytelling as a form of communication are very powerful in The Joy Luck Club because of the cultural barriers that stand between the mothers and daughters. All of the mothers have had experiences in China that their American-born daughters find hard to understand, and the mothers fear that speaking directly of the lessons they have learned...

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