Sunday, October 16, 2011

THe Joy Luck Club Overview

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The Joy Luck Club


There are many settings that create a certain mood and atmosphere. One of which can be found in The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates under Rose Hsu’s account. Rose was describing her relationship with Ted. How their relationship started and how it was coming to a close. There was a sense of tension, frustration and confusion in that segment of the book. It reveals the truth in the saying that “love is blind”. From the beginning, Rose felt that this man, Ted, swept her off her feet and carried her into paradise. Ted had always been the dominant of the two. He was always making the decisions on everything. Rose just stood by and agreed with whatever he thought was best. After Ted’s one fatal mistake, he started to change. He wanted Rose to make the decisions for him. As one would think, this sudden change would be like a culture shock to her. It’s difficult for one be accustomed to certain styles and certain rules then one day is forced to change them.

This part of the book is significant because it can relate to many people. Teenagers can relate to this kind of situation. For most of their childhood, students have been in the same environment with the same friends. Once high school hits, their lives turn away from their normal way of life. It’s a culture shock to them. They’re used to being in their own closed environment when suddenly they have learn a new way of life and adjust/adapt to their new surroundings. Change is a part of life, without it no one can survive.

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There are many characters that I could choose to analyze. One of them is June Woo. June was the daughter of Suyuan Woo. In the novel she is confronted with her mother’s death. Before her mother’s death, June never thought much about her mother. She never got the chance to know what was inside her mother’s heart. She never got the chance to know her hopes and dreams. It was not until after her mother’s death when she realized whom her mother really was. Her mother would spend hours trying to find a certain talent that would make her a prodigy. That talent was never found. June feared that she was a failure to her mother. She never knew until after, that she was her mother’s long-cherished wish. June seems to be one of those characters that have a humble heart. An example of this was in the crab dinner celebrating the Chinese New Year. June was second to the last to choose a crab. Even though one crab was better than the other, she chose the worse one. Her mother later said, “ Only you pick that crab. Nobody else take it. I already know this. Everybody else want best quality. You thinking different.” (p.4)

Another character I would like to analyze is Ying-Ying St. Clair. She has been through a long and tiresome life. She has a strong belief in Chinese superstition. She was born the year of the tiger and so she inherited its characteristics. A tiger has two colors, orange-gold and black. The orange represents Ying-Ying’s headstrong and independent side. She used this part of herself before her first marriage. The black represents how she was after her first marriage, reserved and secretive. Her first marriage collapsed before her. She married a crude man whom she learned to love. Before their child was even born, her husband left her for an opera singer. She has undergone many tragedies that have left her with hurtful scars. It is these scars that she will finally open to her family. Ying-Ying said that, “when my daughter looks at me, she sees a small old lady. That is because she sees only with her outside eyes. She has no chuming, no inside knowing of things. If she had chuming, she would see a tiger lady. And she would have careful fear.” (p.8)


One major theme of the novel is how difficult it is for immigrants to pass on their heritage and culture to their American-born children. This novel has many themes that teach the readers a lesson. In this novel, the mothers have endured many hardships for the sake of their children. Their hopes and dreams have been given to their children, though they don’t realize it. The mothers in this book struggle to keep their family heritage alive so that their children would have something to be proud of and pass on to their children. However, their children seem to have little interest in learning about their heritage. They would rather be more “American” than be more “Chinese.” As the novel progresses, the children learn about what hardships their mothers had to confront and it is until then that they learn to accept their culture.


“…I knew at exactly what point their faces would fall when my seemingly simple and childlike strategy would reveal itself as a devastating and irrevocable course. I loved to win.” (p.187)

This quote reveals a lot from Waverly Jong. It not only reveals her expertise on chess but it also reveals her character. Through this quote the reader can sense that Waverly is a character of power. She likes to be in control of every situation. The reader later finds out that Waverly becomes a successful tax accountant. Her character seems to be strong-willed and selfish. While growing up, her mother has struck her down numerous times with words. As a “ricochet” to it, she strikes other people down with words to make herself feel better.

“And on that day, I showed Second Wife the fake pearl necklace she had given me and crushed it under my foot. And on that day, Second Wife’s hair began to turn white. And on that day, I learned how to shout.”(p. 7)

An-Mei Hsu is the mother of Rose. She has always shown great strength of character. This quote took place at An-Mei’s mother’s funeral. Her mother had killed herself by eating too much opium. Others thought that she wanted to stage her death like Second Wife did, but An-Mei knew that that wasn’t the reason. She believed that her mother purposely killed herself to give An-Mei strength. After her mother’s death, she asserts her identity and is able to raise her voice against being used by others. She is one of the few characters that understood their place in life. This quote is one of many that show An-Mei’s strength and courage.

“Of course you can be prodigy, too,” my mother told me when I was nine. “You can be best at anything. What does Auntie Lindo know? Her daughter, she is only best tricky.” (p.141)

This quote reveals the rivalry between two best friends. Lindo and Suyuan are constantly using their daughters to compete against each other. It’s as if they were long-time competitors in a boxing match. Except now their older and using their daughters to fight for them. Lindo is the type of person who thinks highly of herself. She likes to stay in control and is a dominant character in this novel. Suyuan is the type of person who doesn’t want to give up. She is very ambitious and learns that even if her daughter may not be a prodigy she has a good heart.

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