Mother-Daughter Relationships in Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club

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Mother-Daughter Relationships in Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club

In the Joy Luck Club, the author Amy Tan, focuses on mother-daughter relationships. She examines the lives of four women who emigrated from China, and the lives of four of their American-born daughters. The mothers: Suyuan Woo, An-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-Ying St. Clair had all experienced some life-changing horror before coming to America, and this has forever tainted their perspective on how they want their children raised. The four daughters: Waverly, Lena, Rose, and Jing-Mei are all Americans. Even though they absorb some of the traditions of Chinese culture they are raised in America and American ideals and values. This inability to communicate and the clash between cultures create rifts between mothers and daughters.

The hardest problem communicating emerges between Suyuan and Jing-Mei. Suyuan is a very strong woman who lost everything she ever had in China: "her mother and father, her family home, her first husband, and two daughters, twin baby girls" (141). Yet she finds the strength to move on and still retains her traditional values. She remarries and has Jing-Mei and creates a new life for herself in America. She is the one who brings together three other women to form the Joy Luck Club. The rift is the greatest between Suyuan and June. Suyuan tries to force her daughter to be everything she could ever be. She sees the opportunities that America has to offer, and does not want to see her daughter throw those opportunities away. She wants the best for her daughter, and does not want Jing-Mei to ever let go of something she wants because it is too hard to achieve. "America is where all my mother's hopes lay. . .There were so many ways for ...

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...ght to America" (31). The trip she makes finally helps her to understand just where her mother was coming from, why she was the way she was, and she began to forgive her for all the misunderstandings they had.

The rifts between mothers and daughters continue to separate them, but as the daughters get older they become more tolerant of their mothers. They learn they do not know everything about their mothers, and the courage their mothers showed during their lives is astounding. As they get older they learn they do not know everything, and that their mothers can still teach them much about life. They grow closer to their mothers and learn to be proud of their heritage and their culture. They acquire the wisdom of understanding, and that is the finest feeling to have in the world.


Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Random House, 1989.
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