Joseph Campbell defines a hero as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself ” (Moyers 1). The Hero’s Journey consists of three major parts: the separation, the initiation and the return. Throughout a character’s journey, they must complete a physical or spiritual deed. A physical deed involves performing a daunting and courageous act that preserves the well-being of another person. A spiritual deed calls for action that improves another individual’s state of mind. While fulfilling their journey, a hero must undergo a psychological change that involves experiencing a transformation from immaturity into independence and sophistication.Campbell states that these events are what ultimately guides a hero into completing their journey by, “leaving one condition and finding the source of life to bring you forth into a richer more mature condition” (Moyers 1). In Amy Tan’s, The Joy Luck Club, the character, Lindo Jong, best corresponds with Joseph Campbell’s description of a hero by overcoming her turbulent childhood and passing on her strength to her daughter, however her daughter Waverly, is an example of someone who fails to complete the Hero’s Journey.
Lindo Jong embarks on her journey when a flood destroys her family’s home. While the rest of her family relocates to a new home, Lindo is forced into an arranged marriage. She endures the harsh treatment that she receives from her new family to stay true to the promise she made to her parents to uphold their honor. As her wedding ceremony approaches, Lindo begins to have doubts about her ability to maintain her promise when she says, “I thought about throwing my body into this river that has destroyed my family’s happiness” (Tan 58). This quote repres...
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...tion in her journey as she successfully recognizes her mother’s affection and stops confusing her actions for personal attacks. Nonetheless, Waverly fails in completing her journey. Although, she does succeed in improving her relationship with her mother, she still does not complete a spiritual or physical deed and fails to achieve the “return” in her journey. Unlike her mother, Waverly fails to use her experiences to benefit the lives of others.
Throughout Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club, characters Lindo and Waverly Jong both experience extraordinary journeys which involve many aspects of the Hero’s Journey. Lindo completes her journey by overcoming her childhood and sacrificing herself to provide her daughter with more. Despite not completing her journey, Waverly masters her mother’s method of invisible strength and develops a greater sense of self awareness.
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