A Mother's Love and a Daughter's Growth

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A Mother’s Love and a Daughter’s Growth

Many times love is thought of in terms of relationships with someone of the opposite sex. It often times includes emotional as well as physical attraction. Amy Tan’s novel, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, examines the love that takes another form: the love between a parent and child. In a heartfelt examination of the relationship between mother and daughter, Amy Tan brings to life the feeling of love a daughter often takes for granted in the relationship with her mother.

In order to express the development of the characters in her novel, Tan uses time in a most useful manner. She draws upon the present in her portrayal of Ruth Young, daughter of LuLing Young. She uses the past to create a background for Ruth’s understanding of love when she uses a manuscript written by LuLing Young and a manuscript written by Precious Auntie.

As the story begins, time is set in modern day San Francisco where Ruth Young lives and where she finds an old pile of papers in the bottom of her desk drawer. Ruth struggles with the text since it is in her mother’s beautifully written Chinese calligraphy, of which she understands only a few characters. At first, Ruth’s mother constantly pestered her to read the pages of her past, but Ruth never took the time and now feels the guilt rise over her disregard for something so important to her mother. She must have the papers translated soon, as she realizes time with her mother may soon be drastically altered by LuLing’s confusion as a result of the toll Alzheimer’s has begun to inflict.

As Ruth’s mind flashes back to events in her childhood, she begins to understand her mother’s actions were designed to protect her, encourage her, and give her the best in life. ...

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... also set those pages aside, she picked them up and found their meaning before her mother slipped completely into the depths of Alzheimer’s. As a consequence to this more mature love, mother and daughter were able to forgive and love openly and honestly.

Amy Tan explores the relationship between mother and daughter across time, place, and culture. She doesn’t hesitate to speak of things many would be ashamed to admit and this honesty makes her story truthful. Her use of time in the present and past is especially useful in helping the reader understand the relationship between mother and daughter. After reading this story it seems clear that love grows along with a daughter until it becomes something that is forgiving and true. A mother’s love provides for a daughter’s growth.

Works Cited

Tan, Amy. The Bonesetter’s Daughter. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
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