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Names in A Pair of Tickets

Satisfactory Essays
Names in "A Pair of Tickets"

In Amy Tan's "A Pair of Tickets" (the last chapter of The Joy Luck Club), the understanding of the importance of names is the key to truly apprehend a sacred relationship between mother ("Suyuen") and daughters (June or "Jing-Mei", "Chwun Yu" and "Chwun Hwa").

To understand the story as a whole, it is necessary for us to know the meanings of their names. The mother and daughters' names each bears its individual meaning, but all these names are indeed "intertwined" into a deeper relationship among each other. It is through a deeper understanding of these Chinese characters' names that opens our eyes (readers from different cultural background) to see how mother and daughters are strongly attached emotionally.

In Chinese culture, names are not merely "labels" to distinguish one from the other nor are they used as "mediums" that "reflect" one's identity and individuality; names represent all the long-term greetings and expectations from parents to children. A name is the essence of a person, and it is a gift (the first gift) from parents to be carried for the rest of one's life.* A person's name is like a title of a book or poem: we use a title to identify the nature of the book and its "essence", while we use a name to identify a person and his/her individuality. Chinese name is distinctive in a sense that each name has a story behind it, e.g. June's mother named her twin daughters in China "Chwun Yu" and "Chwun Hwa" since they were born in spring ("Chwun"), "Yu" (rain) was given to the first born and "Hwa" (flower) to the second which indicate their sequence of birth ("rain comes before flower": par. 88); furthermore, rain and flower are nature's elements that exist for one and the other, indicating these twin daughters would stay inseparable.

In this story, Tan has not left out the importance of names which is essential in our understanding of the meaning and purpose of her writing. What would be the impact if she left out the explanation of the meanings of those characters' names? Would there be a difference? The answer is obvious. The meanings of mother and daughters' names are the "essence" of the whole story that necessitate us to apprehend the mother's deep love for her daughters.

The scene where Suyuen had to abandon her

twin-daughters in China