The Joy Luck Club is carefully structured around the stories of four pairs of Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters. The novel alternates from the shocking lives of the mothers in pre-Revolutionary China to the complex and chaotic life of the daughters in twentieth century San Francisco. The Joy Luck Club, written in 1989, was during a time of great change in the world. It was during this time where the feminist movement had gained great momentum. It also coincides with the period where the once powerful ideals of communism had begun to collapse with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Further this period is one where the capitalist western society had been at its peak with great power and influence in the world. Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club, reflects many of the issues present at the time of publication. That is, it reflects the historical, social and cultural pressures facing the world at the time. The novel begins with Jing-mei Woo, also known as “June”, who tells the story of the death of her mother, Suyuan, and twin daughters during the Sino-Japanese War. Unlike the other three Joy Luck mothers, Suyuan has no first-person narrative voice in the novel.
June “replaces” her mother in the act of storytelling. This duty of replacement burdens Jing-mei since she does not understand her mother and regards herself as a failure who always comes short of the mother’s expectation of “best quality. ” The basic conflict between Lindo Jong and her daughter Waverly also originates in the daughter’s sense of inadequacy in front of the mother. Released herself from a pre-arranged marriage with a trickster’s wisdom, Lindo teaches Waverly the manipulation of willpower in playing chess and in life.
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan, 1989, Chinese A. Jing-Mei (June) Woo. June is rebellious in nature, always swimming against her mothers dreams for her, not because they were harmful dreams but because she felt she could never live up to them, and she didnt because she thought she couldnt. Her mothers death has brought her face to face with questions about herself, her mother, and both their identities ...
Throughout their stories, the mother and the daughter constantly engage in a battle of strong wills and become reconciled only when Waverly recognizes the similarities between them. Obsessed with the death of her baby son during her abusive first marriage, Ying-Ying St. Clair loses her “chi (qi),” or spirit, in bad memories. Her daughter Lena is also trapped in a unloving marriage symbolized by the poorly designed end table in her impractical new house. By breaking the uneven table, Ying-Ying recollects her own tiger spirit and provides Lena a “clear reflection,” as Ying-Ying’s Chinese name suggests, of the daughter’s marital problems.
Courageously facing the past of her memories, Ying-Ying deploys her own pain to cut loose Lena’s tiger spirit. An-mei Hsu also animates her daughter Rose with her own spirit and experiences during Rose’s failing marriage. Both the mother and the daughter benefit from the grandmother’s story. Victimized by Chinese traditions and forced to be a concubine of her rapist, the grandmother teaches An-mei the power of language and transforms her own silent victimization into victory with her spiteful suicide.
As An-mei passes on this story of empowerment to her daughter, Rose finds her own voice, direction and selfhood buried by her marriage. Significantly, The Joy Luck Club ends with a reunion of Suyuan’s Chinese daughters, Chwun Yu (Spring Rain), Chwun Hwa (Spring Flower) and her Chinese American daughter Jing-mei “June. ” The names of the three sisters allude to a regenerative force that is associated with the seasonal metaphors of spring and summer.
The lost mother is symbolically resurrected in the unification of her Chinese and American parts. This reunion also provides a missing piece in the development of Jing-mei. Suyuan’s American daughter, who “grew up speaking only English and swallowing more Coca-Cola than sorrow,” has finally recognized the “Chineseness” inside of her and come to terms with her hyphenated identity as a Chinese American woman. While The Joy Luck Club was published in 1989, the story is set in pre-World War II China (1920s) and modern day San Francisco (1980s).
“…that just as stupidity can often remove one from a state of happiness and place him in the greatest misery, so, too can intelligence rescue the wise man from the greatest of dangers and restore him to his secure state” (Boccaccio 93-94) so begins the story of Saladin, who from the beginnings of pecuniary humbleness becomes a sultan, but because of his many wars (with Christians and other ...
The two periods strengthen the contrast between the cultures that Tan depicts through her characters and their relationships. Pre-World War II China was a country heavily embroiled in conflict. San Francisco, however, offered freedom and peace. The novel includes anecdotes and stories from three generations of women, spanning a period of time that is sixty to eighty years in length and ending in the 1980s, when the novel was published. The serene beauty of Ancient China, marred by the violence of war is exemplified in the tale of Suyuan and her daughters.
Suyuan’s first husband, Fuchi Wang, had been an officer in the Kuomintang, a militaristic, nationalist political party that ran China from 1928 through the 1940s. During the 1940s, the party’s power was threatened by Japanese invasions and by the rising force of the Communists. Fuchi took Suyuan and their twin daughters, Chwun Yu and Chwun Hwa, to the town of Kweilin, leaving them there while he traveled to a city called Chungking. Kweilin was full of refugees at the time, and cultural, ethnic, and class tensions added to the hardships resulting from lack of food and money.
During her stay in Kweilin, Suyuan created the Joy Luck Club with three other women in order to escape the fear and uncertainty of the war, “we decided to hold parties and pretend each week had become the new year. Each week we could forget past wrongs done to us. We weren’t allowed to think a bad thought. We feasted, we laughed, we played games, lost and won, we told the best stories. And each week we could hope to be lucky. That hope was our only joy. And that’s how we came to call our little parties Joy Luck” (Tan 25).
The Joy Luck Club, for which the book is named, is located in modern day San Francisco, where four Chinese mothers have made lives for themselves after leaving their native countries years earlier. A miniature of the old country has been recreated in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where most of the immigrants live in the city. Their houses are replicas of homes in the motherland and are adorned with traditional Chinese furniture and decorations. Within Chinatown, the older inhabitants continue to follow their native customs and celebrate their important festivals.
ter> Question: In the Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan touches on an obscure, little discussed issue: the divergence of Chinese culture through American children born of Chinese immigrant parents. With close reference to at least two stories in the book, discuss the truth of this statement. To a certain extent, I agree with this statement. A persons environment in which he/she grows up is a large factor ...
They also gather often to enjoy each other and to eat Chinese delicacies. Although many of the younger generation Chinese descendants still live in Chinatown, they are very different from the older generation of immigrants. They have largely adopted the American way of life. The Joy Luck Club conveys strong feminist ideals. Tan describes the harsh treatment of the Chinese women in the patriarchal society of China against the similarly unfair treatment of the daughters in America. In both cases though, the women rise up against the oppression and obtain strength and freedom.
The intelligence and strength of the female characters such as Lindo Jong clearly represent the strong women of feminism. Lindo was forced in to a marriage and had no choice but to comply. She was ill treated by her new family and had very few rights and freedoms. However, Lindo was able to escape as she began to “think as an independent person” and planned to escape the marriage without breaking her promise to her family. Through her strength, determination and intelligence she was able to escape to a better and free life.
Lindo’s story clearly represents the principle ideas of feminism; independence. As Lindo had begun to think as an “independent person” she portrays the growing independence of women due to feminism. The Joy Luck Club also deals with more modern feminist issues such as that of contraception. The relationship between Lena and her husband, Harold show the inequality in modern day society. Lena and Harold attempt to be equal by sharing the costs of everything. However, Harold does not believe that he should pay for “things that have gray borders, like the birth control pills. The birth control pill was seen as a symbol of independence and freedom by the feminist movement. As Harold had refused to share the costs of the birth control pill, he clearly portrays the chauvinistic views at the time. Both Lena and Harold believe their relationship is equal but it clearly is not. It is seen that “Harold makes seven times more than what” Lena makes. This clearly portrays the unfair income earned by men and women. Though both Lena and Harold have the same occupation, Harold, a man still makes more than Lena.