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A Comparison of Women in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club and Kitchen God's Wife

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Strong Women in The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife

One of the common themes in both The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife is strong women. All the women in both generations in each book gain strength through different experiences. These experiences range from a war-ravaged China to the modern day stresses of womanhood. Though different experiences have shaped each woman, they are all tied together by the common thread of strength.

The Joy Luck Club portrays strong women. The examples that come across most strikingly to the reader are the women who lived in traditional China. An-Mei Hsu gained her strong will from her mother's weak spirit. In her story, titled "Magpies," An-Mei's mother is forced into the life of a concubine. Her mother is tricked by Wu Tsing, a rich merchant, and is brutally raped. Second Wife's trickery lures An-Mei's mother into a life in which she is forced to bear a son that she cannot claim as her own. As a last resort, An-Mei's mother commits suicide two days before the Chinese New Year, in order to ensure that her daughter can someday rise above the position of a concubine's daughter. An-Mei's mother, as the poison travels through her body, whispers, "I would rather kill my own weak spirit so I can give you a stronger one."

Another example of a strong female character is seen in Suyuan Woo. During her escape from China, she is forced to abandon her twin daughters on the roadside.

She leaves her daughters with the hope of someday returning to them. As the women of the Joy Luck Club tell June, "She walked down the road, stumbling and crying, thinking only of this one last hope, that her daughters would be found by a kindhearted person who would care for ...

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... At this moment, Winnie's life takes a turn for the better, for she now knows that she can endure anything that life has to offer.

According to critic Susan Dooley, "Amy Tan's brilliant novels flit in and out of many realities but all of them contain mothers and daughters....Each story is a fascinating vignette, and together they weave the reader through a world where the Moon Lady can grant any wish, where a child, promised in marriage at two and delivered at twelve, can, with cunning, free herself; where a rich man's concubine secures her daughter's future by killing herself and where a woman can live on, knowing she has lost her entire life."

Works Cited and Consulted:

Tan, Amy. The Kitchen God's Wife. New York, Ballantine Books, 1991.

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. Vintage Contemporaries. New York: A Division of Random House, Inc. 1993.
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