The impact of history and culture on an individual's life is tremendous. History plays a large role in forming an individual because it helps them develop morals, ideals, and goals in life. It begins the process of finding an identity. The past is never forgotten because it leaves marks on ones life as a scar does to ones body. It may go unseen physically, but the emotional effects it produces last a lifetime, and can continue on for generations to come.
The women in the novel, The Joy Luck Club, deal with all of the good and the bad that their history and culture have to offer. At times they experience difficulties because the mothers and daughters, although they are as one, share different cultures, while their history is the same. Ying-Ying St.Claire is the mother of Lena, who is a Chinese-American women. Lena and her mother don’t see eye to eye at all times because of the fact that they were raised in different cultures. Ying-Ying grew up in China in a very well-to-do family. At first she had very few worries, other than being obedient. Her Amah once told her, “You don’t need to understand. Just behave, follow your mothers example (Tan,66)”. As she grew older, she had to prepare for her future; a life of following future husbands orders and taking care of her husbands family. Chinese women would do this because it was expected of them. They would care for their husbands parents so that when they were old they would be taken care of as well.
Ying-Ying learned everything, all of the lessons and life’s meanings, from her mother. Her mother learned everything that she knew from her own mother, as well as through experiences from her own...
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...all Chinese, and the daughters are Chinese-American. The mothers grew up in a more strict environment and followed the rules by the book. They were taught by their mothers, how to act, who they were, and what being Chinese meant. The daughters in this story grew up in a more relaxed world, where being an individual was accepted and appreciated. No one was punished for being themselves in America. For the women in this novel, finding their true identity was one of the most important things. By using their cultural background and discovering who their mothers were, they were able to find their true selves in the end as well giving them a complete sense of identity.
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club, Ballantine Books, 1989
Thi Do, Thuan. “Chinese-American Women in American Culture”, available at
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