Chinese Traditionalism in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club Essay

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A bleak, ominous cloud quite often hovers over the hopeful heads of immigrants, and
waits surreptitiously to downpour at the most inopportune moments. Challenges can never be
perfectly avoided for immigrants fervently seeking to find freedom, security, and acceptance in
the lands and cultures of those who are vastly different from themselves. Barriers between
diverse, contrasting cultures can never be completely obliterated, therefore immigrants must
assimilate as successfully as they can into countries in which they have chosen to live and raise
their children. However, the obstructions separating immigrants and their cultures from the
inhabitants of their new residence can also serve a much more deprecating purpose. They often
impede upon immigrants’ relationships with their offspring. The children of immigrants
habitually accept and adopt the ways of their birthplace, leaving their parents exasperated and
bewildered. What immigrants feel to be the most significant aspects of their culture have been
whisked away by a merciless monsoon and distorted or rejected by their children. Thus is the
case with the Chinese mothers in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. Because the immigrant women
in this novel are Asian, as opposed to being English-speaking Europeans, they face great
difficulties in completely acclimating into the American setting. In addition to attempting to
assimilate, the women must also face bitter memories of Chinese society. However bitter these
memories may be, the women utilize their traditional Chinese beliefs in order to try to balance
their new homes and even gain their own freedom. They also attempt to confront some of their

assimilating tribulations by creating talk-stories,...

... middle of paper ...

CA: Salem Press, 2010. 48-63. Print.

Foster, M. Marie Booth. “Voice, Mind, Self: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Amy Tan’s The
Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife.” Critical Insights: The Joy Luck Club by
Amy Tan. Ed. Robert C. Evans. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2010. 173-194. Print.

Hamilton, Patricia L. “Feng Shui, Astrology, and the Five Elements: Traditional Chinese Beliefs
In Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club.” Critical Insights: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.
Ed. Robert C. Evans. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2010. 196-220. Print.

Hsu, Francis L. K. Americans and Chinese: Passage to Differences. Honolulu: The University
Press of Hawaii, 1981. Print.

Xu, Ben. “Memory and the Ethnic Self: Reading Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club.” The Joy Luck
Club by Amy Tan. Ed. Robert C. Evans. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2010. 93-111. Print.

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