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Essay on Mother as Villain and Victim in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

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Mother as Villain and Victim in Joy Luck Club

In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan focuses on several mother-daughter relationships. One of the relationships explored is that between an immigrant Chinese mother and her American born daughter Jing-mei. The mother expects Jing-mei to be a prodigy child - while pursuing this dream she unintentionally creates a serious conflict between her and her daughter.

To fulfill her unrealistic expectations, the mother pushes Jing-mei to be the best in anything and everything. At first, the reader may perceive the mother as the villain in the story; however, the mother just wants her daughter to have the life that she never had. Jing-mei does not understand her intentions.

Jing-mei's mother thought opportunity was everywhere in America, "America was where all my mother's hopes lay" (Tan 1208). The mother lost everything when she moved from China to San Francisco in 1949. In China she lost her family, her spouse, and she had to abandon her twin baby girls (Tan 1208). This implies that her mother had a difficult life and wanted to start a new life in America.

Unfamiliar with the customs of America, she had been brought up in a strict Chinese culture. Her mother probably raised her the same way, and therefore, that is where she learned her parenting skills. The Chinese life is strict, more so than the American life, and that was the only way the mother knew how to raise her daughter. The mother seemed to be the villain in the story, but she was only trying to be the caring parent the best way she knew how. She only wanted her daughter to be the best, but a conflict started when the daughter failed to meet her expectations.

In the beginning Jing-mei, th...

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...he wanted to see her daughter become something better than what she had become. Instead of encouraging her daughter to become someone who she wanted to be, she ends up pushing her in the wrong direction. I think that Jing-mei finally realized why her mother did what she did. I agree with Ghymn when she states that "Jing-mei does care deeply what her mother thinks of her" (84). It is obvious that even though they were two kinds from two different cultures they still found forgiveness in the end.

Work Cited

Souris, Stephen. "'Only Two Kinds of Daughters:'" Inter-Monologue Dialogicity in The Joy Luck Club." Melus 19.2 (Summer 1994):99-123.

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

Willard, Nancy. Asian American Women Writers. Ed. Harold Bloom. Chelsea House Publishers, Philadelphia 1997.
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