Amy Tan 's novel, The Joy Luck Club, explores the relationships and experiences of four Chinese mothers with that of their four Chinese-American daughters. The differences in the upbringing of those women born around the 1920’s in China, and their daughters born in California in the 80’s, is undeniable. The relationships between the two are difficult due to lack of understanding and the considerable amount of barriers that exist between them.
At the beginning of the novel, Suyuan Woo begins telling the story of The Joy Luck Club, a group started by a small family of Chinese women during World War II, where "we feasted, we laughed, we played games, lost and won, we told the best stories. And each week, we could hope to be lucky. That hope was our only joy (12).” In fact this was their only joy, as the mothers grew up during extremely dangerous times in war torn China, with the threat of invading Japanese as well as other straining struggles of the period. The “Joy Luck Club” was created in hopes that the group could escape the conflict and nightmares of the time by focusing on the simpler things such as surrounding oneself with family. They all were taught "to desire nothing, to swallow other people 's misery, to eat their own bitterness (241).” Although not many of them grew up terribly poor, they all had a certain respect for their elders, and for life itself. These Chinese mothers were all taught to be honorable, to the point of sacrificing their own lives to remain faithful to their family. Instead, their daughters are just the opposite, they "can promise to come to dinner, but if she wants to watch a favorite movie on TV, she no longer has a promise (42),” but to the mothers, "To Chinese people, fourteen carats...
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...ive and negative aspects of the Chinese and American cultural identities that exist, as well as revealing said lasting effects from generation to generation. "After the gold was removed from my body I felt lighter, more free. They say this is what happens if you lack metal. You begin to think as an independent person (63)." Upon realization of the effects of cultural influence, Tan establishes creditability to both her own experiences and the overall message of “The Joy Luck Club”, in order to educate and enlighten the reader on the bigger picture of the effects of multiculturalism that exist, as well as address the powerful influences that exist around us all that aid in the individual paths we all take. The Joy Luck Club addresses the inevitable result of confliction in defining who we are as not only individuals, but also group entities, nations, and human beings.
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