The Growth of Mothers and Daughters in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club

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The Growth of Mothers and Daughters in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club


Every twelve months of every year the seasons change from spring, summer, fall and then winter.  The cycle repeats itself every year having similar weather conditions as the previous season before.  Like the four seasons mother and daughter are very similar in the way they change and grow throughout time.  A mother learns from her mother and then passes on her morals and rituals on to her daughters.  As the daughters grow with age they have a tendency to take on many qualities of their mothers such as their cultural ways and some day they will pass these traits onto their children.  Through years of experience and hard work, Amy Tan shows the viewers the experiences of the mother and daughters while growing up in Chinese and American lifestyles.

Many of the women in the novel had great characteristics, which represented them as strong and faithful women.  One example of this is An-Mei and her daughter Rose.  When An-Mei was a child her mother was not in her life, she had re-married a man name Wu-Tsing, and she was then known as a concubine.  An-Mei’s mother was the third wife of three and in a Chinese family, re-marrying after being a widow is a shameful act.  An-Mei did eventually meet her mother and she learned a great deal from her.  She was always told to wear her best clothes when she was in the presence of her family and she even taught An-Mei a recipe that was intended to save lives.  Popo An-Mei’s mother was dying and this is what she told her daughter Rose.  “This is how a daughter honors her mother.  It is shou so deep it is in your bones.  The pain of flesh is nothing.  The pain you must forget.  Because sometimes that is the only way to remember what is in your bones.  You must peel off your skin, and that of your mothers, and her mother before her.  Until there is nothing.  No scar, no skin, no flesh.” (Tan 41)  An-mei’s mother had removed a chunk of flesh from her arm; it had her blood, her mother’s blood, and her grandmother’s blood in it.  In this ritual a life was supposed to be saved, it was considered magic.   An-Mei left with her mother to live with her and her new husband after her popo passed away.

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"The Growth of Mothers and Daughters in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Jan 2018
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  “ I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, to eat my own bitterness.  Her mother taught an-Mei and she passed this on to her daughter as well.  When An-Mei and her daughter went to live with Wu-Tsing and the other wives, An-Mei became very ill and she eventually died from over dosing on opium.

“When something that violent hits you, you cant help but lose your balance and fall.  And after you pick yourself up, you realize you cant trust anybody to save you-not your husband, not your mother, not God.  So what can you do to stop yourself from tilting and falling all over again?” (Tan 128)  Rose, the daughter of An-Mei has now devoted herself to taking care of her siblings, and what she doesn’t realize is that faith is not on her side.  An- Mei had a superstition that all small children were predisposed to danger on certain days, all depending on the child’s birthday.  Bing the youngest of he siblings drowns when no one is watching over him, but An-Mei does not give up her faith and she tells her daughter the same, teaching her to never let her faith slip away.  “ You must think for yourself, what you must do.  If someone tells you, you are not trying.”(Tan 140)  Faith is shaped half be “Expectation” half by “intention”. “ You have to pay attention to what you lost.  You have to undo the expectation.” (Tan 140)  What Rose did not realize is that when she decided to stop making decisions for herself as a child, this would haunt her in her future.  Rose ended up marrying an American man by the name of Ted Jordan and she let him make all the decisions in the relationship, what vacations to take and what furniture to buy.  The control became so over powering she turned to her mother for advice.

"A girl is like a young tree, you must stand tall and listen to your mother standing next to you.  That is the only way to grow strong and straight.  But if you bend to listen to other people, you will grow crooked and weak.”  Rose took her mother’s advice, but also she took some advice from American people like herself. What she realized was that Americans think to complicated, things don’t make sense, and her mother was right all along.   Ted and Rose were in the process of getting a divorce and Ted wanted everything the house, the car, and the garden.  For once Rose stood up for what she believed, she told Ted no, and that she was keeping the house and the garden.  The garden had not been taken care of for months.  The vines were crawling up the side of the house and there were flowers intertwining with each other.  Ted saw this and was appalled, the garden was just the way Rose wanted it, it had freedom, and that was the one thing Rose was lacking all along.

“As each woman reveals her secrets trying to unravel the truth about life, the strings become more tangled, more intertwined.” (Amy Tan, overview)  Amy Tan says it perfect, the women in the novel are taking their own individual journey trying to find themselves.  Through this process the daughters begin to see that they are turning into their mothers and the mothers are seeing themselves within their daughters.  As the seasons change, these women learn the beauty of a mother/daughter relationship.

Works Cited

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Random House, 1989.


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