The plots in each of the sixteen short stories intertwine to resolve the conflicts between mothers and daughters so that they can live in harmony. Before the story began, Suyuan Woo died, leaving her daughter, Jing-mei, to return to China, meet her long lost half-sisters, and tell them about their deceased mother (Tan 21). It appears that Jing-mei does not feel qualified to speak for her mother because they did not have a good relationship to begin with. She never was able to live up to the expectations her mother had for her and felt like a disappointment to Suyuan, marring her self-confidence. The other mothers seem to worry that their daughters, like Jing-mei, know nothing of their motherland and the hardships that led them to America. Lindo Jong, mother of Waverly, had to trick her cruel mother-in-law into banishing her from the house and then continued to use her wits to forge a new life in America (Tan 57). However, her daughter does not appreciate how hard she has worked to reach America or how proud she is of Waverly. Tan demonstrates that all the daughters see their mothers as burdensome; their sharp criticism and judgme...
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...entities that match those of American peers, but over time they find a way to fuse the two together. The last setting of the book is modern day China when Jing-mei goes to visit her half-sisters and finally acknowledges her heritage. She says, “And now I also see what part of me is Chinese. It is so obvious. It is my family. It is in our blood. After all these years, it can finally be let go” (Tan 249). Jing-mei’s trip to China radically changes her perspective, and she will bring that back to America to share with Waverly, Lena, and Rose. She accepted a part of her identity that she had been revolting against her entire life only after she crossed the ocean to see it firsthand. Her mindset has changed for the better because she has allowed the Chinese part of her to finally set in. The setting is partly a location, partly a time period, and partly a state of mind.
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