Mothers and the Chinese Spirit in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club Essay

Mothers and the Chinese Spirit in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club Essay

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Mothers and the Chinese Spirit in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club


   The Joy Luck Club is the telling of a tale of struggle by four mothers and their four daughters trying to understand the issue of gender identity, how they each discover or lose their sense of self and what they mean to one another. Throughout the book each of the mothers works hard at teaching their daughters the virtues of Chinese wisdom while allowing the opportunities of American life. They try passing on a piece of themselves despite the great barriers that are built between the women. Each of the stories gives a wonderful glimpse into the Chinese culture and heritage that the mothers are trying to reveal to their daughters through the use of festivals, food dishes, marriage ceremonies, and the raising of children, essentially their past experiences.

    Living with their traditional Chinese culture in American society, these eight Chinese-American women suffer the problems of cultural conflicts in compliance with their gender. Asian women were looked at as being "positive, subservient, compliant, quiet, delicate, exotic, romantic and easy to please" (Mulan). They are nicknamed "China dolls" or " lotus blossoms", which are sexually loaded stereotypes of Asian women. These stereotypes discriminate against women by degrading their worth as people. By men taking advantage of their obedience and submissiveness they are showing that these women are not valued and that they have no voice. Judith Butler responds to these roles by saying, "Gender is an act, a performance, a set of manipulated codes and costumes rather than a core aspect of essential identity". By the middle of this century, Chinese women had been playing this manipulative, subservient role for m...


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...look like our mother. Her same eyes, her same mouth, open in surprise to see, at last, her long-cherished wish" (Tan 332). Each mother achieved her desire of implanting her Chinese spirit and wish into each American daughter.

Works Cited

Butler, Judith. http://www.colorado.edu.
Do, Thuan Thi. Chinese-American Women in American Culture. 1992 http://www.ics.uci.edu/~tdo/ea/chinese.html.
Hooks, Amy. How to Be a Girl: Problems with Feminism in "Rules of the Game" and Mulan. http://www.unc.edu/~dcderosa/STUDENTPAPERS/childrenbattles/chinaamy.html.
Hsiao, Rita, et al. Screenwriters. Mulan. Director Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft. Disney 1998. http://www.unc.edu/~dcderosa/STUDENTPAPERS/childrenbattles/chinaamy.html.
Scarcella, R. United States. 1990. http://www.ics.uci.edu/~tdo/ea/Chinesewomen.html.
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Random House, 1989.

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