Daughters and Mothers in The Joy Luck Club
Children, as they become adults, become more appreciative of their parents. In The Joy Luck Club, the attitudes of four daughters toward their mothers change as the girls mature and come to realize that their mothers aren't so different after all.
As children, the daughters in this book are ashamed of their mothers and don't take them very seriously, dismissing them as quirky and odd. "I could never tell my father . . . How could I tell him my mother was crazy?" (p. 117). They don't try to comprehend their culture, which is a big part of understanding their traditional Chinese mothers. On page 6, one of the daughters states, "I can never remember things I don't understand in the first place," referring to Chinese expressions her mother used. When their mothers show pride in them, the girls only show their embarrassment. One daughter shows her shame when she says to her mother, "I wish you wouldn't do that, telling everyone I'm your daughter" (p. 101). The girls cannot relate to their mothers because they were raised in a different world. No matter how much the mothers care for them or how much they sacrifice to make their girls' lives better, the daughters are blind to their mothers' pain and feelings.
All four of the Joy Luck mothers need their daughters to understand them, pass on their spirit after they are gone, and understand what they have gone through for their girls. One mother dreams of doing this on her trip to a new life: "In America I will have a daughter just like me . . . over there nobody will look down on her . . . and she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow! She will know my meaning because I will give her this swan . . . it c...
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...n away a long time ago to what I had imagined was a safer place. And hiding in this place, behind my invisible barriers, I knew what lay on the other side: her side attacks. Her secret weapons. Her uncanny ability to find my weakest spots. But in the brief instant that I had peered over the barriers I could finally see what was really there: an old woman, a wok for her armor, a knitting needle for her sword, getting a little crabby as she waited patiently for her daughter to invite her in. (pp. 203-204)
In conclusion, as children, the daughters didn't understand their mothers or their culture. The daughters were being raised in a different world. Their perceptions of their mothers changed, though, as they grew up and realized that they weren't so different from them after all. They finally understood and respected their traditional Chinese mothers.
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