The Theme of Girl Power in Joy Luck Club and Taste of Honey

The Theme of Girl Power in Joy Luck Club and Taste of Honey

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The Theme of Girl Power in Joy Luck Club and Taste of Honey

Joy Luck Club and Taste of Honey

Women’s rights is an issue of serious interest in much of today’s
literature. As more women take the pen in hand more and more female
characters take center stage in the stories they write. The newest
term for this focus on the powerful heroine is called “Girl Power” and
this strength of persona can be seen in two pieces of literature in
particular. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, and A Taste of Honey, by
Shelagh Delaney.

In the Joy Luck Club Amy Tan write about the lives of four mother’s
from China who pass their lives’ wisdom down to their daughters who
are growing up on the foreign shores of California, USA. Each of
these women have a story to tell about growing up in the patriarchal
society of china, how they overcame the stifling environment they grew
up in and how they survived and escaped to the “new world” as it
were.

The story of An Mei, Waverly Jong’s mother, is an excellent example of
how women can take control of the situations that are forced upon them
and make their lives better. In the novel An Mei is sold into a
marriage at the age of four. At fifteen, on her wedding day she
discovers she has been married to 13 year old boy, who no more wants
to be a husband than he does a father. An Mei is forced to sleep on
the floor and treated to the derisive comments and punishments of her
mother in law when she fails to produce a child. However, over
hearing a house servant who found herself pregnant, she devises a plan
to escape her ill-fated life and out-trick her lying child-groom. She
uses the superstitions of the traditional Chinese and her clever wit
to win a ticket out of the loveless marriage and back to Shanghai
with her family. This tale, re-told by An Mei, shows how woman, even
in dire situations, can take charge of their lives and make the most
of what they have.

Rose Hsu Jordan is another one of Tan’s Characters that really takes
charge of her life just when it seems she would be swallowed whole by
a man’s world. In this present day tale, a young woman find herself
married to man whose opinions she has grown to value above her own.
She has forgotten how to value herself and fallen prey to the pitfall
of pleasing her husband before taking care of her own needs.

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Through
the stories of her mother and the ghosts of her grandmother she is
able to overcome this fear that she may be worth nothing and face her
husband and ask for what she deserves – his love and her home. Rose’s
character shows us from what depths the feminine spirit can rise to
face the world and take control again.

In A Taste of Honey Shelagh Delaney writes about a mother, Helen, and
her daughter, Jo. In this play, the daughter watches as her mother
allows herself to be objectified and mis-treated by boyfriend after
boyfriend. Helen, on the other hand watches woefully as her daughter
makes many of the same mistakes as she did herself as a young woman.

Helen is a single mother who believes desperately that she needs a man
to make her life easy. As a result she drags her daughter through one
disastrous relationship after the other. Each time the pair wind up
on the run. But Helen is not a complete victim. Helen does not
confine herself the expectations that society and indeed her own
daughter have for her. In her own way, Helen is in control of how she
uses the men her life and to what extent she depends on them and
allows them to use her. She sees men as way to find financial comfort
and is open about her affinity for the contents of their pockets over
the content of their minds. She even admits freely that Jo’s own
father had “not much going on upstairs” and was a half-witted fool,
but handsome and nice. Helen is a great example of how women choose
the lives they live and take control into their own hands.

Jo, who sees herself as very different from her mother shows us an
example of “Girl-Power” in a very different light. Pregnant by an
absent father, much like her mother, Jo choose not to seek out a
father or a financial safety blanket in a man but rather seeks a
friend and mother-figure in her friend Geoff (an ambiguously feminine
character). Jo defines her life not by what is expected of her, but
rather what feels right to her life. She works to exist, and believes
she will be a good mother despite the lack of a traditionally
mother-figure to emulate. Jo’s decisions fly in the face of
convention and form for her life that suits herself and only herself.

Both the novel The Joy Luck Club and the play A Taste of Honey are
filled with fascinating and powerful women. The Joy Luck Club shows
us women who overcome the situations hoisted upon them by the
masculine societies they live in. A Taste of Honey is a portrait of
two women struggling to define their lives in their own ways. Both
these pieces are powerful illustrations of what women can do despite
the societal boundaries they face.
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