Tan, Amy - The Joy Luck Club. Home · Tan, Amy - The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations). Read more. The Joy Luck Club - Free download as Word Doc .doc), PDF File .pdf), Text File despite of their cultural barriers because by publishing this book they not. Amy Tan's beloved, New York Times bestselling tale of mothers and daughtersFour mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four.
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luck to know: my editor, Faith Sale, for her belief in this book; my agent, Joy Luck Club was adapted into a feature film in , for which Amy Tan was a. Page 1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Hard. Luck PDF. BOOK 8. Dinoboy The Joy Luck Club: A Unit Plan Second Edition Based on the book by Amy Tan Written. "She has written a jewel of a book," Orville Schell concluded in the New York Times (March 19, ). In April , The Joy Luck Club made the New York.
How could I know these two things do not mix? People plant flowers; they pluck weeds. American Translation A mother is horrified when she discovers that her married daughter has placed a mirrored armoire at the foot of the bed. Huang Taitai confined Lindo to bed, took away all her jewelry, but still Lindo bore no children. The "strongest wind cannot be seen," Waverly's chess opponent tells her. Partners take this risk because they usually make much more money than associates. Her mother threw her shoe at them--and that was just for starters.
Prefer the physical book? Check nearby libraries with:. Copy and paste this code into your Wikipedia page. Need help? New Feature: You can now embed Open Library books on your website! Learn More. Last edited by ImportBot. July 31, History. Add another edition? The Joy Luck Club Close. Want to Read. Are you sure you want to remove The Joy Luck Club from your list? Written in English. Places San Francisco Calif. Times 20th century. Scar 33 Lindo Jong: Rules of the Game 89 Lena St.
Half and Half Jing-Mei Woo: Rice Husband Waverly Jong: Four Directions Rose Hsu Jordan: Without Wood Jing-Mei Woo: She realized that the loveless marriage would not destroy her because only she could access her true identity.
The twentyfour-carat bracelets symbolize Lindo's true worth, genuine and inviolate. I promised not to forget myself. Outside, the Huangs' home appears to be impressive and spacious; inside, it is cramped and uncomfortable. In the same way, Lindo's marriage to the Huangs' son appears to be a step up in the world for her; in reality, she soon realizes that she is doomed to a life of servitude--until she realizes her true, golden worth. Many generations ago, most marriages were arranged without the consent of the man and woman involved.
The rise of a strong middle class, however, and the growth of democracy gradually brought tolerance for romantic marriages, based on free choice of the partners involved. Nonetheless, arranged marriages are still common in some cultures today, including some Indian cultures and aristocratic families. The most extreme application of the custom of arranged marriages was in pre-revolutionary China; then, a bride and groom often met for the first time on their wedding day.
The traditional Asian value placed on marriage is illustrated in the customs surrounding its dissolution. When one partner dies, for example, widowers and widows must often wait a prescribed time before remarrying; they must also wear mourning clothing and perform ceremonial duties for the dead. While many cultures permit divorce, in some societies divorce is uncommon because it requires the repayment of dowries or other monetary or material exchanges in order to prevent the violation of religious laws.
In pre-revolutionary China, women were never allowed to remarry, even if their husbands died. Traditionally, Chinese people reckon their birthdays on the new year. Everyone becomes a year older on the day of the New Year--not on the day they were born. For Chinese people, the year, rather than the month in which a person is born, is important because the Chinese zodiac cycle changes each year.
The Moon Lady The drama in which the Moon Lady is a major character concerns the loss and reclamation of cultural and individual identities. Four-year-old Ying-ying, who has fallen overboard, is desperate to be "found"--to once again be reunited with her family--and with herself. She feels as though she has not only lost her family, but that she has also lost her "self. In contrast to that loss and eventual reclamation, Ying-ying explains that today, as an old lady, she realizes that she and her daughter have suffered similar losses, and she wonders if these losses will ever be recovered.
She and her daughter can no longer hear one another because Ying-ying rarely voices her thoughts. It was not always so; on the night when she was four years old, she shared her thoughts with the Moon Lady. The Moon Festival fell on a very hot autumn day. Ying-ying was restless; her nurse her amah had dressed her in the heavy silk jacket and pants that Ying-ying's mother had made for her daughter to wear to the Moon Festival. Ying-ying remembers that her amah told her that soon they would see Chang-o, the Moon Lady, who becomes visible on this day only, and when people see her, they can ask for one secret wish to be fulfilled.
The Moon Lady is not an ordinary person, the amah explained. Ying-ying recalls that the departure was delayed because the adults talked. She became increasingly restless until, finally, the servants began to load a rickshaw with provisions, and the family climbed aboard and departed for the river. Arriving at the lake, they discover that the air is no cooler there than it was inland. The children race around the deck of the floating pavilion, delighting in the ornate decorations, the pretty garden area, and the bustling kitchen.
The excitement wanes, however, and after the meal, everyone settles down for a nap. Ying-ying watches some boys send a shackled bird into the water to catch fish.
Later, she watches a servant gut fish, chickens, and a turtle, and, with alarm, she realizes that her new outfit is flecked with blood and fish scales.
Panicking, she rubs more turtle blood over her clothing, thinking that no one will notice her transformation. The amah shrieks in terror when she sees Ying-ying covered with blood but gratefully strips off the soiled garments when she realizes that the child is unharmed. Alone on the back of the boat in her undergarments, Ying-ying waits as the moon rises. She turns to find the Moon Lady and slips into the water. She is caught in a fishing net and dumped on the deck of another boat.
By now, there are so many boats on the water that Ying-ying cannot see her family's boat. She is put on shore, where she watches the Moon Lady performing. Instantly, she is enchanted by the pageant and by the beautiful, soft-spoken Moon Lady. When the play ends, the Moon Lady announces that she will grant a wish. Ying-ying rushes backstage and there, she sees the Moon Lady pull off her hair, drop her gown, and she realizes that the Moon Lady is a man.
She also forgets many of the details of the day. Today, many years later, when her life is coming to an end, she finally remembers what she asked the Moon Lady: Note that Ying-ying felt that she had surrendered herself "to a shadow, insubstantial and fleeting. Stripped of her special tiger clothes and wearing only anonymous cotton undergarments, Ying-ying could be anyone.
Indeed, for a moment, she thinks that she may be a little girl on another boat whom she saw, pushing her way through her mother's legs. Ying-ying cried out, "That's not me! I'm here.
I didn't fall in the water. The phenomenon of the doppelganger, according to psychologists, is fairly common. People feel as though they have met--or seen--their "double," a life-sized mirror image of themselves. Most often, these experiences happen late at night or at dawn and occur during periods of stress and fatigue.
This idea of a phantom "double" has existed for centuries. In this case, Ying-ying sees a little girl who is safe; at the same time, she is trying to reinstate herself on shore, as a safe little girl who did not fall in the water. She feels that she should be the little girl's "double"--united with her family again, on dry land.
Writers have long used this literary device to probe conflicts within characters, struggles that the characters may not even know they are having. In Dostoevski's The Double, for example, a poor clerk sees his double, a man who has succeeded--in contrast to the clerk, who has failed. Conrad's The Secret Sharer is also built around the notion of a doppelganger. One dark night, a young sea captain rescues a murderer--his double--from the ocean.
The captain hides his double and has visions of his own darker side. The narrator of Poe's "William Wilson" is hounded by his double, a man who speaks only in a whisper.
Here, Ying-ying is torn between her antithetical desires for both independence and belonging. Like the Moon Lady, she feels as though she doesn't belong anywhere: First, there is the shadow. Then it will come to you and hide in the comfort of your shadow. The image of a shadow also echoes the phenomenon of the doppelganger. In some ways, Ying-ying is like the bird with the ring around its neck, but she is shackled by psychological rather than by physical means.
Ying-ying has repressed her identity for so many years that she is unable to communicate with her daughter. This shackle of communication, ironically, yokes the two women, despite the fact that the daughter blocks out her mother's voice by using a mechanical device.
She physically closes her ears to Ying-ying's voice with her Sony Walkman and cordless phone. Part II: The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates A mother cautions her seven-year-old daughter not to ride her bicycle around the corner. When the daughter protests, her mother explains that the child will fall, will cry out--and will be out of earshot. The daughter then demands to know the twenty-six bad things that can happen, but the mother refuses to answer. In a fury, the girl rushes outside, jumps on her bicycle, and falls--even before she reaches the corner.
This introduction to Part II of the novel reinforces the theme of communication--especially the lack of communication.
Mother and daughter are unable to communicate with each other because of barriers in language, personality, and age. The encounter also suggests the theme of control--the mother exerts a seemingly arbitrary power over her daughter. Neither the reader nor the daughter ever finds out why the mother will not allow her daughter to ride her bicycle around the corner.
Is the daughter prone to fall? Is there some danger lurking around the corner? When pressed to provide a reason for her refusal, the mother resorts to the unprovable: Perhaps the book symbolizes the unwritten knowledge that all mothers wish to pass on to their daughters; here, the bicycle ride symbolizes the escape that all daughters must make from their mothers.
The last paragraph of this italicized introduction alludes to one of the major themes of the novel. In denying her mother's wisdom "You don't know anything," the daughter shrieks , the young girl allows us to see the tension between mothers and daughters, between the past and the present, between the Old World and the New World.
Each of the daughters in this book learns that her mother does indeed possess great wisdom, learned through great hardship. One of the questions that the book poses is: How can mothers communicate what they know to their daughters? How can they save their daughters the pain that they have experienced? Waverly Jong: Rules of the Game Waverly Jong, the narrator of this section, explains that she was six years old when her mother taught her "the art of invisible strength," a strategy for winning arguments and gaining respect from others in games.
The children delight in the sights, sounds, and smells of Chinatown, the sweetness of the pasty red beans, the pungent smell of the herbs doled out by old Li, and the sight of the blood-slippery fish that the butcher guts with one deft slice. Waverly's brother Vincent received a chess set at the Baptist Church Christmas party. Waverly took to the game immediately, delighting in its strategy. After her brothers lose interest in the game, Waverly learns complex plays from Lau Po, an old man in the park: She begins to win local tournaments.
By her ninth birthday, Waverly is a national chess champion. Her fame spreads; even Life magazine runs an article on her meteoric rise. Waverly is excused from her chores, but there is one task she cannot escape: Jong delights in walking down the busy street, boasting that Waverly is her daughter.
One day, mortified by what she perceives as exploitation, Waverly argues with her mother and dashes off. For two hours, she huddles on an upturned plastic pail in an alley. Finally, she slowly walks home. Taking their lead from Mrs. Jong, the entire family ignores Waverly, so she trudges to her darkened room and lies down on her bed. In her mind, she sees a chess board. Her opponent consists of two angry black slits, marching implacably across the chessboard and sending her white pieces fleeing for cover.
As the black pieces get closer, Waverly feels herself getting lighter. She rises above the board and floats over houses. Pushed by the wind, she ascends into the night sky, alone. Waverly closes her eyes and thinks about her next move. Tan's first short story was "Endgame. Guided by another novelist and short story writer, Molly Giles, Tan rewrote "Endgame" at the workshop.
It was then published in FM magazine and reprinted in Seventeen magazine. Giles sent the story to Sandra Dijkstra, a literary agent in San Francisco, who thought that it was very well written. When Tan learned that an Italian magazine had reprinted "Endgame" without her permission, she asked Dijkstra to be her agent. Dijkstra agreed. She urged Tan to submit other short stories and to turn the series into a book. That book became The Joy Luck Club.
On the surface, "Rules of the Game" applies to the rules of chess, which Waverly masters with astonishing skill. Her success is even more admirable when we realize that she is only eight years old and almost entirely self-taught. Aside from some sessions with old Lau Po in the park, Waverly has taught herself everything that she needs to know about chess in order to become a national champion.
She understands the rules of chess. She knows how the game is played, and she knows how to psych-out her opponents. Look, however, at the title from another perspective. In addition to the game of chess, the title alludes to the "game" of life--knowing the "rules" in order to get what you want. Jong calls these rules "the art of invisible strength. Waverly and her mother struggle for control. Waverly thinks of her mother as an adversary: To Waverly, her mother is like a tiger, waiting to pounce.
Predatory, the older woman can destroy with one swipe of her powerful claws. Waverly clearly imagines herself the victim in their struggle. When she reenters the apartment, she sees the "remains of a large fish, its fleshy head still connected to bones swimming upstream in vain escape. Waverly, however, is young; she has not realized that as her mother teaches her the "art of invisible strength," Mrs. Jong is equipping Waverly with the very tools she needs to win the battles of life that she will encounter when she grows up.
The "art of invisible strength" is self-control.
Waverly likens it to the wind, invisible yet powerful beyond belief. The wind can whip up fierce storms and flatten entire communities, yet leave no trace of its presence. In its power and invisibility, it is the strongest of opponents. The "strongest wind cannot be seen," Waverly's chess opponent tells her. Like the human will, it cannot be seen or traced.
In another sense, the "art of invisible strength" represents female power.
Women who have been denied conventional paths to power traditionally use their ability to persuade, to shape, and even to control events. If a woman cannot sit in the boardroom, she can shape events from her home--even though a man holds the reins of power. This force is even recognized and sometimes derided in the cliche "The woman behind the man.
For example, Mrs. Jong's fractured English is amusing. When Waverly fears that she will lose a chess match and shame the family, Mrs. Jong says, "Is shame you fall down nobody push you. There is nothing humorous in her final comment to Waverly: This girl not have concerning for us.
Jong has won this round--or has she? Waverly's opponent in this game is "two angry black slits. Jong's eyes turn into "dangerous black slits. She now knows that getting what she wants should not be left to fate; rather, she herself can shape events to serve her purpose. The theme of heritage is also an important element in this section.
Jong takes great pride in being Chinese. She explains that "Chinese people do many things. Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Not lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture. Jong delights in showing off her daughter to everyone; Waverly is her legacy to the world. Jong feels responsible for her daughter's success.
Waverly, on the other hand, thinks that she has accomplished everything on her own. She does not yet understand her mother's point of view. Founded in , it was widely circulated and imitated through the years. Long celebrated for its outstanding photographs and ability to capture the news as it unfolded, Life ceased publishing on a weekly basis in Clair often wondered about a beggar whom her grandfather had sentenced to die in the worst possible way.
She imagines all sorts of gruesome torture. Appalled by her interest in violence, her mother said that the way he died didn't matter. Lena thinks that it matters very much because knowing the worst that can happen to you can help you avoid it. The worst thing that happens to Lena is her mother's descent into madness.
Lena traces her mother's madness to a basement in their house in Oakland, California. As a child, Lena broke through a barricaded door and fell headlong into the cellar. To prevent Lena from going into the basement again, her mother told her that a bad man lived down there. After this incident, Lena began to see fantastic, horrible things everywhere. At the immigration center, Lena's father renamed his wife "Betty" St. Clair, and two years were subtracted from her age. She looks fearful in the photo of her taken that day, an emotion that remained with her.
She cautions Lena about strangers and sees danger in even the most harmless events. Lena's father refuses to learn to speak Chinese, and Mrs. Clair cannot learn English. As a result, they have a great deal of trouble communicating. Lena's father puts words into his wife's mouth, but Lena finds out what her mother is really thinking about when they are alone together. Lena is ten years old when her father is promoted. To mark his success, he moves the family across the bay to San Francisco, where they take an apartment at the top of a steep hill.
Clair is not happy with the apartment, and an encounter with a drunken man upsets her even more. She feels that this apartment is "not balanced" and that all their good luck will vanish. She discovers that she is pregnant, but even this news cannot lift her mood. Meanwhile, Lena listens through the wall to an Italian mother and daughter, Mrs.
Sorci and Teresa, arguing and fighting in the adjacent apartment. Their arguments sound so violent that Lena believes that the mother has probably killed her daughter. Soon afterward, Mrs. Clair loses the baby that she is carrymg.
In her grief, she cries out about another son whom she thinks that she apparently killed. She then begins to lose her already-fragile grip on reality. One night, the girl next door knocks on the door of Lena's apartment. Her mother, she says, has kicked her out. She uses the St. Clairs' fire escape to sneak back into her bedroom, and later that night, Lena hears the Italian girl and her mother screaming at each other again. She is astonished when she hears them reconcile and fall into each other's arms with love.
Lena dreams of saving her mother from madness. The theme of heritage is especially important in this section, as Lena explores the dual nature of her identity. The product of an English-Irish father and a Chinese mother, she is a combination of two cultures. Although her pale coloring makes her seem Caucasian, her eyes are unmistakably Chinese.
Her nature, like her appearance, straddles two cultures. Like the beggar's death, there are two versions of reality here-Chinese and American. Imaginative, even horrifying visions haunt her; however, her dual vision enables her to maintain her own sanity while watching her mother slide into madness. When Gu Ying-ying came to America, she was declared a Displaced Person because the immigration officials could not categorize her.
Her name was changed to Betty St. Clair, and her birth was postdated by two years. This misclassification is a symbol for her new status: Stripped of her Chinese identity, she is, literally, a displaced person, adrift in an alien land. With the erasure of her identity, she has no place in the world.
She cannot even communicate with her husband, a well-meaning but insensitive man who refuses to learn Chinese and insists that his wife learn English.
When she is unable to communicate, he puts words into her mouth. In effect, he denies her the ability to communicate, and eventually, she descends into madness as a way of dealing with her isolation and loneliness. The new apartment is a case in point.
In an ironic comment, St. Clair announces that his family is "moving up in the world. His new job commands a greater salary, thus enabling him to afford a better home for his family. The family moves up the socioeconomic ladder, and the new apartment is literally perched on the top of a steep hill.
The family lives higher up than they were before, but Mrs. Clair dislikes the apartment from the start. It is positioned badly, against Chinese nature. In "Rules of the Game," the wind symbolized something that could be harnessed to fuel great power. Here, it represents a loss of power. Clair cannot marshall "invisible strength"; it was taken from her along with her identity. In a vain attempt to realign the family's luck, she rearranges the furniture. Her attempt is a failure, and soon afterward, she loses the baby.
Note Mrs. Clair's obsession with rape, birth, and death. In the beginning of the section, she cautions Lena that the bad man in the basement will "plant five babies in her" and then devour her.
Later, as she and Lena walk down the street, she cautions Lena to avoid strangers, who will snatch her and "make [her] have a baby. Clair whispers salaciously of sex. When she loses her baby son, she moans, "I had given no thought to killing my other son! Something happened in China--something that she cannot express, something which lies hidden behind her agony.
The squabbling between Mrs. Sorci and Teresa is an ironic counterpoint to Lena and her mother's miseries. Lena envies them their battles, their ability to voice their feelings, their love. She wishes that her mother would rant and scream--anything but retreat into the invisible wall of madness.
Sorci and her daughter. At the end of this section, Lena dreams of a sacrifice that will bring her mother back to sanity.
Her dream echoes An-mei Hsu's explanation of her mother's blood sacrifice in "Scar. Horribly painful, it yields no blood nor any shredded flesh.
Lena can only dream of its ability to pull her mother through the wall of madness. Rose Hsu Jordan: Half and Half Rose's mother used to carry a Bible.
When she lost her faith, she used the Bible to steady the short leg of the kitchen table. The Bible has remained under the table leg for twenty years. Tonight, Rose has come to tell her mother that she and her husband, Ted, are getting a divorce. She dreads telling her mother. Initially, she was drawn to his brash, self-assured nature; he was very different from the Chinese boys whom she dated.
Rose's mother, Mrs. Hsu, was displeased about the budding relationship because Ted was not Chinese, and Ted's mother, Mrs. Jordan, was displeased because Rose was not American--she was Chinese. At a family picnic, Mrs.
Jordan took Rose aside and confided that Ted's future did not include a wife who was a member of a minority race. Hurt and infuriated by Mrs. Jordan's racism, Rose broke up with Ted that evening. Later, they reconciled and were married a month before Ted started medical school. After his graduation, they bought a home, and Rose set up a freelance graphic arts business.
Ted made all the decisions in their lives--from what to eat to where to vacation. The marriage was steady until Ted lost a malpractice suit; afterward, he began to press Rose to make some of her own decisions.
The marital break came while he was attending a medical convention in Los Angeles. He called late at night and demanded a divorce. Rose lost all faith in Ted's love for her. She recalls when her own mother lost her faith. One day many years ago, the entire family--parents and seven children--had gone for a day at the beach.
Rose was assigned the care of her four brothers-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Bing. The three elder boys could amuse themselves, but Bing was only four years old and difficult to amuse. Momentarily distracted, Rose's eyes left Bing and he fell into the ocean and drowned.
Everyone took the blame for the tragedy. The next day, Mrs. Hsu returned to the beach with Rose to find Bing. With her Bible in hand, she implored God to return Bing. She even threw her own mother's blue sapphire ring into the ocean as a sacrifice. Finally, with utter despair and horror, she seemed to accept Bing's death. Rose knows now that her mother never really expected to find Bing--just as she herself knows that she can never save her marriage even though her mother tells her that she must try.
She looks into the Bible and discovers that her mother has entered Bing's name under "Deaths"--inscribing it gently, in erasable pencil. By now you should realize that Tan uses the titles of these various stories to link themes and convey meaning. The title of this particular story, "Half and Half," can be understood on a number of levels, as can the titles that we have encountered so far. As a couple, Ted and Rose are "half and half"--part American, part Chinese.
In some instances, a dual heritage can be a source of strength, but not in this particular instance. Together, Rose and Ted do not "fit" into either culture. Later, she cries bitterly at the wedding, convinced that her son is marrying beneath his social status. Unlike Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. Hsu is no racist--she is just wary of the foreigner. Cut off from their heritages, Rose and Ted do not unite to create something new, something upon which to build. The Joy Luck Club explores the importance of understanding one's heritage as a way of affirming identity.
Without her heritage, Rose is like a ghost. Lacking substance, she can but twist in the wind of her husband's decisions and demands. When Ted abruptly withdraws his support, she is left without balance. Like Mrs. Clair in the previous section, Rose is thrown "off balance. There is nothing to prevent her from losing her balance again. In contrast, Mrs. Hsu is firmly grounded.
Initially, she was supported by her faith. After Bing's death, her Bible becomes a physical, rather than spiritual, prop--a wedge to shore up a rickety table. Ironically, the Bible is still fulfilling its original purpose--"correcting the imbalances of life.
Hsu is just being practical; after all, why waste a perfectly good Bible? But even twenty years later, the cover is still "clean white," showing that she hasn't wholly discounted the power of religion to buttress her life. This condition is affirmed when Rose opens the Bible and sees that her mother has entered Bing's name in "erasable pencil. She was still hoping that he might return through the power of faith. Even now, she has not reentered his name in ink.
The story of Bing's death parallels Rose's condition. The Hsu family, like Rose and Ted early in their marriage, believed that luck and fate were on their side. Hsu strongly believed that she could prevent the tragedies detailed in "The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates" by simply being constantly aware of all of them.
Ted believed that he could guide the course of their marriage by making all the right decisions. But Rose and Ted both realized, at last, that life was not as simple as that. There was fate to consider. Hsu mispronounces "faith" as "fate. Their good luck was nothing more than an illusion. Evil is arbitrary and non-preventable. The imagery of the scene of Bing's death reinforces the power of fate's arbitrary hand.
The beach is described as being "like a giant bowl, cracked in half, the other half washed out to sea. Moments before the accident, he was sitting "just where the shadows ended and the sunny part began. At the end of the story, Rose concludes that fate "is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention. This is Mrs.
Hsu's reaction to loss, and it is the path that she advises Rose to take. It remains to be seen if Rose can harness the "invisible strength" of the wind that powers Waverly Jong and her mother--or if the wind will sweep her off her feet, off balance.
She has high hopes that her daughter will be a great success as a prodigy. She's not precisely sure where her daughter's talents lie, but she is sure that her daughter possesses great ability--it is simply a matter of finding the right avenue for Jing-mei's talents. First, Mrs. Woo tries to mold her daughter into a child actress, but that doesn't work.
Then she tries intellectual tests clipped from popular magazines. Jing-mei doesn't show promise in this area, either. Finally, Mrs. Woo hits upon the answer: Jing-mei will be a piano virtuoso. Woo trades housecleaning services for Jing-mei's piano lessons from Mr.
Chong, an elderly piano teacher, who is deaf and whose eyes are too weak to tell when Jing-mei is playing the wrong notes. Chong's efforts are so sincere that Jing-mei picks up the basics, but she is so determined not to cooperate that she plays very badly. One day, the Woos meet Lindo Jong and her daughter Waverly. Jong brags about Waverly's success as a chess prodigy. Not to be outdone, Jing-mei's mother brags about her daughter's "natural pride," and the young girl immediately becomes even more determined than ever to thwart her mother's ambitions.
Continuing to clean houses, Mrs. Woo scrapes together enough money to buy a secondhand piano. A few weeks later, Jing-mei participates in a talent show in a church hall. All the couples from the Joy Luck Club come to her piano debut. Although she has not practiced and does not know the music, Jing-mei has come to believe that she is indeed a prodigy.
Halfway through the song, though, she begins to realize how badly she is playing. The weak applause and her parents' disappointed looks reveal the unmistakable truth: Jing-mei is not a musical prodigy. As a result, Jing-mei is shocked when her mother expects her to continue practicing. During the ensuing quarrel, Jing-mei shouts the most hateful thing she can summon: I wish I were dead! Like them! Woo suddenly retreats and never mentions the piano again.
As a result, Jing-mei is shocked when her mother offers her the piano as a thirtieth birthday present. Only after her mother's death can Jing-mei accept the piano. As she is packing her mother's things, she sits down to play the piano for the first time in many years. The story focuses on two themes: Like many immigrants, Mrs. Woo believes in America's promise: With hard work and a little luck, Jingmei can be anything that she chooses to be.
Jing-mei will not have to undergo any of her mother's hardships--the terror and privations of war, the tragedy of losing children, and the difficulties of settling in a new culture. It is not enough that Jing-mei be merely successful, however. With her mother's guidance, Jing-mei can be a prodigy, towering above ordinary children. Prodigies, however, are born with an innate talent that manifests itself under the proper guidance, as has Waverly Jong's chess genius. To discover the fallacy of Mrs.
Woo's reasoning, all we have to do is contrast Waverly's instant fascination with chess to Jing-mei's refusal to practice the piano. Furthermore, Waverly receives only a few chess pointers from an old man in the park before she begins winning tournaments; in contrast, Jing-mei is given extensive if inept personal tutoring, yet she still plays badly in the talent contest.
In addition, Jing-mei has no desire to cooperate with her mother. On the contrary, she fights her every step of the way. I wasn't her slave. This wasn't China. I had listened to her before and look what happened. She was the stupid one," she decides. Determined to thwart her mother's ambitions, Jing-mei neglects practicing the piano. It is only after her mother's death that Jing-mei begins to realize what her mother had wanted for her.
She looks back over the music that she formerly shunned and discovers something that she hadn't noticed before. This realization brings together the theme of the tension between mothers and daughters.
The mothers and daughters in this book are separated by many factors--age, experience, ambition, and culture. The "pleading child" cannot be "perfectly contented" because she cannot resolve her difficulties with her mother--and herself. In her struggle with her mother, she is struggling with her own identity. Who is Jingmei?
Some combination of the two? She feels that she must reject her mother in order to find herself. Yet in doing so, she is rejecting her heritage and her identity. This book explores the various ways that mothers and daughters relate to each other as the daughters are struggling to forge their own place in the world. As such, the theme of this story easily transcends the immigrant experience. Children from many cultures and backgrounds steadfastly refuse to believe in their parents' dreams for their future.
Whether their parents are on-track or misguided, many children cannot see the value of applying themselves to a goal, practicing a skill, and cooperating with others' plans. In her refusal to accede to her mother's wishes, Jingmei becomes cruel. She strikes back at her mother with the strongest weapon she can muster--verbally reminding her mother of the central tragedy of her life. And Jing-mei wins the argument--or does she? Tan also explores the effect of popular culture on the immigrant.
Woo gets her ideas from television and popular magazines. She does not question the validity of these sources. Everything has been predigested for mass consumption.
Born in , she made her film debut at age three in Stand Up and Cheer. Admired for her mop of blond ringlets, her coy, flirtatious pizazz, and her affected, plucky singing and dancing, she became one of the most famous and popular of all child stars in the 30s.
She continued to appear in films through her teen years, and after her second marriage, she became active in politics. After an unsuccessful bid for Congress in , she served as a United Nations delegate In , she was named U. Ambassador to Ghana. Today, she uses the name Shirley Temple Black. Part III: American Translation A mother is horrified when she discovers that her married daughter has placed a mirrored armoire at the foot of the bed.
She is certain that the mirror will deflect all happiness from her daughter's marriage, so she remedies the situation by giving her daughter a mirror to hang above the bed. This arrangement will reverse the bad luck and bring good "peach-blossom luck," the mother says.
Such luck, she adds, will ensure a grandchild. The clash between generations is highlighted in this section. The daughter is upscale and modern. She lives in a condo, not a home. It's an expensive place, boasting a "master suite. The mother, in contrast, is steeped in the traditions of the past.
She feels that she goes to great lengths to ensure good fortune, for she realizes that fate is capricious and that possessions are not a bulwark against disaster. Unlike her daughter's shallow materialism, the mother wants something of lasting value: Here, again, we encounter the theme of heritage. When the daughter looks in the mirror, she sees herself, suggesting that her children will resemble her, which of course they probably will.
This knowledge conveys the link between generations, the ties that bind the past to the present. These cavernous stores are stripped of amenities such as dressing rooms, music, fancy displays, and a multitude of salespeople.
Sometimes one must belong to a union or other large organization to be a member.
There is also a yearly membership fee. Since the stores are so stripped down, their prices tend to be far less than department stores. Like the "twice-used Macy's bag," Tan mentions the store to let the reader know that the mother is very concerned with getting her money's worth. Unlike the daughter, the mother is very thrifty. Rice Husband Lena believes that her mother has an uncanny ability for predicting bad things that will befall the family.
For example, she predicted the failure of a bank and her own husband's death. Lena worries what she will say about the house that Lena and her husband, Harold, have bought in Woodside. What will she predict about their future--based on their new home and the location and arrangement of the rooms in it?
To compound the problem, Lena and Harold are having marital difficulties. At present, the problems are manifesting themselves in a quarrel over who should pay for the cat's flea treatment. When mother and daughter arrive at the house, Mrs. Clair is clearly astonished at the enormous amount of money that her daughter and son-in-law paid for the house. Beneath the fancy architectural details, she sees clearly that the house was vastly overpriced--whereupon Lena remembers an incident from her childhood.
To coax eight-year-old Lena to finish her food, Mrs. Clair told her that her future husband would have one pockmark for every grain of rice that the child did not eat. Little Lena immediately thought of Arnold, a cruel twelve-year-old boy in the neighborhood, who was indeed pockmarked. She quickly finished her rice. The possibility of Arnold being her future husband became a fearful obsession.
She hated Arnold so much that she found "a way to make him die. One morning when Lena was thirteen, her father read a newspaper article about Arnold's dying of measles.
Lena felt that she was somehow responsible for his death. That night, she gorged herself with ice cream. Later, she vomited it up. Her mother discovered her shivering out on the fire escape, hugging the ice cream carton. Today, Lena knows that she did not cause Arnold's death, but, nonetheless, she feels that she is still being punished. After all, she concludes, she married Harold--not a perfect match.
Harold was a partner; Lena, an associate. Lena convinced Harold to start his own firm. She agreed. The business got off to a rocky start, but with Lena's support and excellent ideas, the firm prospered.
Today, Harold makes seven times the amount of money that Lena does, but they still split almost all the expenses down the middle. They have established a detailed, simplistic way to account for their living expenses.
Lena's mother is astonished by this detailed accounting. That night, Harold is surprised to learn from Mrs. Clair that Lena does not like ice cream. Heretofore, he's always made Lena pay fifty-fifty for the ice cream.
He's never noticed that Lena never ate any. She attempts to redefine their marriage. The argument is interrupted by the sound of glass shattering. The rickety table that Harold designed and made has collapsed and broken a vase in the bedroom where Lena's mother is staying.
Upstairs, Lena tells her mother that she knew it would break; her mother asks her, if you knew that this was going to happen, why didn't you do something about what was obviously inevitable? The table that Harold made as an architectural student is a symbol for Lena and Harold's marriage. Like their relationship, the table is rickety and badly designed--ready to collapse with the slightest provocation.
Harold is as oblivious to the table's bad design as he is to the disintegration of his marriage. This fact is evident by the ice cream incident. Harold continues to buy ice cream every week and never notices that Lena never eats any of it. He has no idea that she hates it and that it makes her nauseous.
When Mrs. Clair points this fact out, Harold completely misinterprets what she is saying. He thinks that she's commenting on Lena's skinny body, that she's made a joke.
Harold is similarly oblivious to the inequality in his relationship with Lena. Under the guise of such modern cliches as "false dependencies," "love without obligation," and "equality," Harold has designed a situation where it's clear to us that Lena has gotten a raw deal. She was co-founder of his architectural firm, providing not only seed money through the rent, as well as constant moral support, but also the creative ideas for the projects. She is the one who thought up the firm's specialty--"theme eating"--which became the underpinning of the business.
Yet Harold refuses to recognize her contributions. Indeed, he deliberately prevents her from sharing financial success because he insists on avoiding "favoritism.
She likens her husband to Arnold, the pockmarked boy who tormented her as a child. Here, note the similarity between the names "Arn-old" and "Har-old.
Lena, however, has had problems asserting herself for a long time. As a child, she tried to control her life by restricting the amount of food that she ate. By the time she was a teenager, her obsession with food had turned into anorexia. People who suffer from this condition starve themselves--sometimes to death. It's overwhelmingly a disease of teenage girls.
They often eat until they can hold no more food and then make themselves vomit it up. This cycle is called "binging and purging," and that's what Lena did with the ice cream. This behavior often weakens the heart, stomach, and throat.
Lena is still starving herself. She is so thin, in fact, that her mother complains that she has become "so thin now you cannot see her.
She like a ghost, disappear. Lena tries to blame her inability to assert herself on her background. Being Chinese-American, she thinks, makes her "naturally" timid and prone to having feelings of guilt. Rose, her friend, will have none of this rationalization.
Rose says, "Why do you blame your culture, your ethnicity? Her mother provides the solution: The table was sure to collapse; the marriage seems doomed to fail. Yet she backs off from saying what must be said. She initiates the fight with Harold but collapses into tears before she can fully make her point.
Like a ghost, she lacks the strength to save herself. Lawyers, architects, and accountants, for example, are often partners in their business. As partners, they share in a firm's liability, which means that if the firm is sued, for instance, they all are responsible for the costs.