Comparing Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club and Waiting for Mr. Kim
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The Joy Luck Club and Waiting for Mr. Kim
Throughout Asian American literature there is a struggle between Asian women and their Asian American daughters. This is the case in The Joy Luck Club, written by Amy Tan and also in the short story "Waiting for Mr. Kim," written by Carol Roh-Spaulding. These two stories are very different, however they are similar in that they portray Asian women trying to get their American daughters to respect their Asian heritage. There are certain behaviors that Asian women are expected to have, and the mothers feel that their daughters should use these behaviors.
In The Joy Luck Club, the novel traces the fate of the four mothers-Suyuan Woo, An-mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-ying St. Clair-and their four daughters-June Woo, Rose Hsu Jordan, Waverly Jong, and Lena St. Clair. Through the experiences that these characters go through, they become women. The mothers all fled China in the 1940's and they all retain much of their heritage. Their heritage focuses on what is means to be a female, but more importantly what it means to be an Asian female.
In the short story "Waiting for Mr. Kim," the main female character Gracie understands what it means to be an Asian female, but she does question the meaning because of her sisters. Her sisters ran away from home and eloped before their marriage could be arranged. This is totally against Asian culture, and it causes Gracie to question her heritage and her Asian femininity.
In both of these stories there are certain characteristics of females that are the same, they are inner strength, obedience, honor and respect, the good of the family is better than the good of the individual.
In the chapter "Scar" the characteristic of honor and respect is first noticed. In this chapter An-mei finds out how her mother deserted her, her mother did leave for a good reason, which was to maintain the honor of her family, but either way her mother left her. Her grandmother had to raise her, and she learned much about the Asian woman from her. An-mei was showing some disrespect towards one of her aunts, and her aunt told her that she was being disrespectful. Her grandmother then interjected and said, "When you lose your face, An-mei...it is like dropping your necklace down a well. The only way you can get it back is to fall in after it.