In Amy Tan's novel, Joy Luck Club, the mother of Jing-mei recognizes only two kinds of daughters: those that are obedient and those that follow their own mind. Perhaps the reader of this novel may recognize only two types of mothers: pushy mothers and patient mothers. The two songs, "Pleading Child" and "Perfectly Contented," which the daughter plays, reinforce the underlying tension in the novel. These songs represent the feelings that the daughter, Jing-mei, has had throughout her life.
The mother in this novel is pushy. She wants her daughter to become a child prodigy so badly she can practically taste it. She makes Jing-mei perform tests out of magazines to see if she could by some chance be one of those extraordinary children they are always reading about and watching on TV. Jing-mei has no interest in becoming a child prodigy; eventually gives up on these tests, and hence her mother gives up on them, too.
The mother also pushed Jing-mei to try and be something she wasn't in the way of looks. After watching Shirley Temple on TV, Jing-mei's mother took her down to the beauty training school so she could get her hair cut to look like a Chinese Shirley Temple. Well, like the tests, the haircut failed too. She ended up with an uneven, Peter Pan looking haircut. Jing-mei's mother said that she now "looked like Negro Chinese" as if it was her fault her hair ended up the way it did (Tan 1208).
After the first two attempts to make her daughter into a child prodigy, the mother is just about to give up on the idea that her daughter can be better than what she already is, when her last idea hits her. She was watching the Ed Sullivan show, when she saw a girl playin...
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...ause her mother pushed her to hard to do things that she simply did not want to do. If her mother had just been a little more relaxed and not so caught up in her daughter becoming a child prodigy, then they would have had a better relationship. If parents push their children to do something they do not want to do, they may end up, like Jing-mei's mother, paying for it.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Ghymn, Ester. Images of Asian American Women by Asian American Women Writers. vol. 1. NY: Peter Lang 1995.
Souris, Stephen. "'Only Two Kinds of Daughters:'" Inter-Monologue Dialogicity in The Joy Luck Club." Melus 19.2 (Summer 1994):99-123.
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. Vintage Contemporaries. New York: A Division of Random House, Inc. 1993.
Willard, Nancy. Asian American Women Writers. Ed. Harold Bloom. Chelsea House Publishers, Philadelphia 1997.
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