The two symbols that I choose for American Translations were the wobbly table and Suyuan’s Pendant. These symbols represent what goes on within Lena’s and Jing- Mei’s lives.
The table and the vase in Lena’s home come to symbolize Lena’s marriage. Like their relationships, the table is rickety and badly designed- ready to collapse with the slightest annoyance. Lena had placed a vase on a wobbly table. Lena placed the vase was placed knowing it was in a dangerous position. She does not do anything to protect the vase from breaking. Like the vase, Lena’s marriage is in danger of falling and shattering. Harold who built the wobbly table when he was studying architecture and design is responsible for not fixing it, as well as , Lena is responsible for putting the vase on the wobbly table. Similarly, Harold was responsible for not be supportive and strong enough to hold his commitment and his marriage as Lean was responsible for knowing the marriage was in danger of shattering but refused to take any action. Ying- Ying shows her daughter as an image instead of words about, how her marriage is, “Fallen down … And it’s such a simple question.” (pg181).
However, when her mother accidentally causes the vase to break, she lets Lean see that she should prevent disasters before they happen, rather than letting them happen, just like how Ying-Ying has done all her life. However, Harold is unaware of the tables’ bad designs as he is about his marriage. For example, Harold continues to buy ice cream every week but never notices that Lena never eats any of it. However, Lena’s aware of the fragility of the table, and her marriage. When she tells Harold of her unhappiness and her desire to fix it, Harold does not see what really needs to be changed or fixed in their marriage.
The beautiful wedding and the romantic honeymoon are over; now it’s time for the real work to begin – the marriage. You move into your dream home ready to begin your life together, but this is the first time you are living together as a couple and there will be some challenges. Each of your habits, good and bad but mostly bad, will emerge. For him, it’s leaving his dirty clothes on the bathroom ...
Suyuan’s Pendant is in Jing-Mei’s story, “Best Quality”. ”Five months ago, after crab dinner celebrating… to help me understand my grief” (pg 221), is a quote that indicates how Jing-mei changes her mind about the pendant ,as it changed it colour, her mother gave her before her mothers death. Her mother gave her the jade pendant which Suyuan calls life’s importance. The symbolic meaning of the pendant changes while Jing-mei discovers herself and her mother’s relationship. At first, Jing-mei found the pendant very unstylish and bright, which symbolizes the cultural difference between herself and her mother. However, the meaning of the pendant changes when Suyuan dies. Jing-mei comes to realize that it symbolized her mother’s love and concern. In addition, Jing-mei realizes the best qualities of herself and her mother. Most of her life, Jing-mei does not value herself. Suyuan tries to improve her daughter self-worth, but Jing-Mei judges herself that she is like than the best quality. By giving her the pendant, her mother indicates that she is the “best quality”. This allows Jing-mei to boost her confidence when she was always extremely hard on herself. Jing-Mei realizes her own worth. The pendant symbolizes the importance of passing down valuable object in Chinese heritage from one generation to the next. Jing-mei’s mind changed just like how the pendant’s colour changed.
The two daughters have these two items that symbolizes their lives. For Lena the wobbly table and the vase was a representation of her marriage begin shaky. For Jing-mei, a pendant changing colour showed how her mother was just of love and concern.