Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife is the story of a relationship between a mother and daughter that is much more than it seems. This touchingly beautiful narrative not only tells a story, but deals with many of the issues that we have discussed in Women Writers this semester. Tan addresses the issues of the inequality given women in other cultures, different cultures' expectations of women, abortion, friendship, generation gaps between mothers and daughters, mother-daughter relationships, and the strength of women in the face of adversity. Tan even sets the feminist mood with the title of the book, which refers to a woman in Chinese Mythology who cared for a selfish man who became a minor god. She pulls from her own life experiences, relatives, and emotions to write this story, a factor that probably contributes to the realness of the plot and the roundness of the characters. Tan's mother's previous marriage to an abusive man, her father's death, and her loving relationship with her relatives (specifically her mother) all show themselves in the intricately woven story of a mother named Winnie, and a daughter named Pearl, and their struggles as Chinese-American women.
Much of this story stems from Tan's love for her own mother, Daisy Ching, who gave birth to the brilliant Amy in 1952 in California. Daisy Ching, a great inspiration for this novel, has a vividly detailed recollection of her life in China which she shares with her daughter. Tan, in turn, shares some of this with her readers in The Kitchen God's Wife through the voice of the mother-figure, Winnie. Like Daisy Ching's eldest son (Amy Tan's brother), the main character, Winnie, experiences the de...
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...rength will preserve her memories forever. Tan teaches her readers that women have the strength, despite the fact that society has said otherwise, to overcome all obstacles. She also shows the sad plights of our predecessors who have committed sins out of love in their oppressed existence. With the love of a mother and a daughter, both real and imaginary, Amy Tan demonstrates these three things (and more) that we have discussed this semester: women's strength in the face of adversity, the idea that taking a life is better than giving a bad one, and the incorporation of one's own experiences into writing. Tan has written a beautiful piece of literature worthy of being read by men and women alike.
1. Tan, Amy. The Kitchen God's Wife. Thorndike Press: Maine 1991.
2. "1st Person: Amy Tan" Http://www.sunherald.com/1ptan/html/la.htm
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