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Essay on Understanding the Mothers in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

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Understanding the Mothers in The Joy Luck Club

 
    In America, it is common to take mothers for granted and reject the advice they try to give. Generally, their attempt to give advice is considered as an intrusion into our lives and our privacy. In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan tries to get the reader to take a step back and see the good intentions behind our mother's actions.

 

In the stories told by Jing-Mei, Tan weaves in flashbacks and memories of Jing-Mei's own childhood experiences, including stories she has heard of her mother Suyuan's early life in China. These stories help to explain why she teaches her daughter the v alues of optimism and determination. As the reader encounters these flashbacks, Suyuan's tragic history is revealed. When the war reaches her town, Suyuan loses everything she owns, and in an attempt to save her own life by fleeing from China she is force d to leave her two twin babies behind on the side of the road in hopes they might have a chance at a good life. Jing-Mei recalls that her mother "had come here in 1949 after losing everything in China... but she never looked back with regret. There w ere so many ways for things to get better"(Tan 132). As Suyuan's past is revealed, the reader can not help but realize her determination, optimism, and strong will as she perseveres against the odds to establish a better life in America. Suyuan tries to pass on her virtues of determination, optimism, and perseverance to her American born daughter Jing-Mei. Jing-Mei's mother sees American movie stars performing on the television set and believes that with hard work and practice her daughter can aspire to the same stardom. Despite the constant protests of her daughter, Suyuan forces her to practice t...


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...lub, Tan forces us as readers to take a step back from our own lives so that we might realize all the good intentions of our own mother's actions.  Perhaps we can understand the reasoning behind our mother's advice and the impact that it has had in our lives.

 

Works Consulted:

Foster, M. Marie Booth. "Voice, Mind, Self: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife." Women of Color: Mother Daughter Relationships in 20th Century Literature. Ed. Elizabeth Brown-Guillory. Austin: U of Texas P, 1996. 207-27.

Ghymn, Ester Mikyung. Images of Asian American Women by Asian American Women Writers. Vol. 1. New York: Peter Lang, 1995.

Huntley, E. D. Amy Tan: A Critical Companion. Westport: Greenwood P, 1998.

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. Vintage Contemporaries. New York: A Division of  Random House, Inc. 1993.


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