The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, is a book that compiles stories of the lives of Chinese women that were raised in China and became American citizens. These women formed the “Joy Luck Club,” which was a small group that discussed their homeland and troubles, but still enjoying the treasures of food and each other’s company. Each section of the book is written from the point of view of the character. The book continues on with the stories of these women’s daughters, telling stories of their lives being raised by mothers who were immigrants, and dissolving into American society. Chinese mothers try to pass on their values, instincts, and intuitiveness on to the second generation. Great fortune has come to the members of the Joy Luck Club through their hardships, and they only want their daughters to understand what it takes to succeed in life.
The Joy Luck Club ladies were all friends who over time have formed blissful lives for themselves in America. All of the daughters in this book were raised with high expectations, even the mothers while they were in China. This is contrary to an overall idea that girls in China were not a great commodity to their parents. Each member of the Joy Luck Club was a mother that only wanted their own daughters to understand why they should be respectful of their Chinese culture and grateful for their American opportunities. Waverly Jong, daughter of Lindo, was raised in Chinatown and her mother taught many lessons to “raise them out of circumstances.” (Tan, 90) Lindo thought the best combination was “ American circumstances and Chinese character.” (259) The women of the Joy Luck Club were competitive amongst each other when it came to their children’s successes. Jei-Mei (June) Woo’s mother wanted her to be a chess prodigy like Waverly Jong, or become a Chinese Shirley Temple. Jei-Mei’s mother, Suyuan, wanted her daughter to be a Chinese version of the epitome of American culture and the “perfect child” during the 1950s. Chinese mothers even go to great extents to instill their values into their children.
... A. United States (San Francisco).In The Joy Luck Club the US is a land where four Chinese raise daughters that are American and only externally ... novel is that of cross cultural mother daughter relationships. Their mothers are Chinese and continually attempt to give them Chinese advice, stories, wisdom. But there ...
The family of An-mei Hsu in China and Lena St. Clair’s mother, Ying-Ying, both would make up stories to make a moral to a story, to put fear into their daughters and detour them from trouble. Avoiding trouble is also an instinct for the Chinese. Their natural instincts tell them when something will not go well. Lena St. Clair remembers when her mother kept having a feeling to rearrange furniture, only to find out she was pregnant. Lena herself thought that she “saw…with my Chinese eyes…devils dancing…and things that Caucasian girls at school did not.” (106) An-Mei Hsu has visions of her mother during a period of illness. A Chinese woman would be insulted if one were to think for a moment that these visions were ludicrous. These Chinese women take great pride in their traditions and their pupils of wisdom, their children.
Being the daughter of a proud Chinese mother is no easy life. All the daughters were under pressure to become exactly what their mothers expected of them. At times, these high desires may have done more harms than good. After great pressure to become a prodigy or a piano playing princess, Jing-mei Woo shouted to her mother, “Why don’t you like me the way I am!” (146) This is an obvious example of the classic “American rebellion” coming out of the second generation of Chinese immigrants. Lena St. Clair would translate notes from school (written in English) incorrectly to her mother, and of course, to her advantage. Later in life, another daughter of the Joy Luck Club, Waverly, disgusted her mother when she decided to marry a Caucasian man. However, through it all, I believe the daughters took to heart the efforts and good intentions that their mothers tried to instill. After Jing-mei’s mother died, as a memento to her mother, she has the piano that she once felt slave to, tuned. She carefully examined the piano’s parts and looked at some Shumann music that she had once played. She discovered that the selection “Pleading Child” was just a part of another selection she had never played as a child, “Perfectly Content.” (155)
Mother/daughter relationships are a significant aspect of the Joy Luck Club. Characteristics of each mother/daughter relationship relate to the four main themes of the novel. These being, parent/child conflict, the discovery of identity, the idea of balance and harmony as well as the use of symbolism. An example of one mother/daughter relationship in the Joy Luck Club, is that of Lindo and Waverly ...
The mothers in the Joy Luck Club continue their mission to have near perfection in the lives of their daughters. In a typical Chinese mother way, Ying-Ying St. Clair criticizes her daughter even after she is grown and has a successful career. Ying-Ying says her guestroom has “walls close in like a coffin.” (275) She thinks her daughter’s life, as an architect, is modern and foolish. A Chinese mother is not easily pleased. Nevertheless, this is admitted so. A second generation’s life should be different, far different from times in China when a girl was told she should “stand still” simply because she was a statuesque future wife for some wealthy man (70).
Though the struggles of the two generations may be different, Ying-Ying saw that in these two faces was “the same happiness, the same sadness, the same good fortune, and the same faults.” (159)
Each mother in the Joy Luck Club saw their daughter differently when they were grown. An-mei Hsu said that no matter how much she raised her daughter to be more American, the more she became Chinese, desiring nothing and swallowing other people’s pride. At the beginning of the book, all of the surviving members give Jing-Mei (June) money to go to China to discover the homeland and recite the legacy of her mother to others. The mothers of the Joy Luck Club want nothing more than to not be forgotten. Their persona is made of their beliefs, fables, and instincts. It is this tradition that they want to be eternal.