Mother Daughter Relationships - Learning from Mother in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

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Learning from Mother in The Joy Luck Club

"I have already experienced the worst. After this, there is no worst possible thing" (Amy Tan 121). Throughout The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan tells stories of how mothers use the misfortunes in their lives, to try to teach their daughters about life. Many of the mothers had bad experiences in their pasts and do not want to see their daughters live through the same types of problems. They try to make their daughters' lives as easy and problem free as possible. However, the daughters do not see this as an act of love, but rather as an act of control. In the end, the daughters realize that their mothers tried to use their experiences to teach them not to give up hope, and to look at the good of an experience rather than the bad.

Amy Tan starts The Joy Luck Club with the daughter, Jing-mei, and mother, Suyuan Woo. Suyuan lived through a hard life in Kweilin during the war and teaches her daughter to keep her head up and have faith, even though things may seem hard at the time. When Suyuan lived in Kweilin, she had many things that could depress her, "but to despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable" (11). Suyuan's wishful thinking reveals that she did not want to think of all the bad things happening around her. Rather, she wanted to focus on the fact that she "had luxuries few people could afford" (10). The ability to find the good when others see only bad helped Suyuan center her attention on the superior things that she had, such as the Joy Luck Club and her friends. Later, when Jing-mei goes to meet her sisters in China, she becomes "so nervous [she] can't even feel [her] feet"(331). The uneasy emo...

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...to keep trying. Although Rose believes that she has "no hope," inside she has a nengkan as powerful as her mothers, which makes her wish her marriage would last, just as her mother wishes Bing would still be alive.

Overall, each mother in The Joy Luck Club went through something emotionally exhausting and saddening in her life. The mothers use their experiences to try to direct the course of their daughters' lives, to make them simpler and more carefree. Initially, however, the daughters only see that their mothers want to make decisions for them, not to help them. Ultimately, the daughters realize their mothers' intentions, but not all accept them. The important thing, however, is that each daughter learns a valuable lesson and comes to peace with her mother.

Work Cited

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Ivy Books, 1989.
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