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Learning Love and Respect in The Joy Luck Club
In Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club, the character of An-mei learns to love and respect her mother. This essay will focus on the precise moment of the transformation of An-mei to a strong, self-confident woman.
Although An-mei's mother was dying, An-mei's mother still believed in saving her by "cooking magic in the ancient tradition" so as "to try to cure her mother this one last time". That was how An-mei "came to love my mother", "how I saw her in my own true nature and what was beneath my skin, inside my bones". An-mei's mother "pull up her sleeve" and "put this knife on the softest part of her arm" and "cut a piece of meat from her arm". An-mei "tried to close my eyes, but could not". An-mei saw that "tears poured from her (mother's) face and blood spilled to the floor. Even though Popo's mouth was "already too tight from trying to keep her spirit in", An-mei's mother still "fed her this soup". However, Popo passed away in the end.
An-mei "could see the pain of the flesh" and "the worth of the pain". She understands that this is the way " a daughter honours her mother", "it is to shou so deep it is in your bones". She knows that "the pain of the flesh is nothing, the pain you must forget".
When An-mei returned with her mother to Teintsin, she had an encounter with Second Wife who gave her a pearl necklace. Her mother scolded her for it. "what you hear is not genuine. She(Second Wife)makes clouds with one hand, rain with the other. She is trying to trick you, so you will do anything for her", but An-mei "tried not to listen to my mother". In the end, An-mei's mother crushed the pearl necklace and it was only then that An-mei realized "the necklace that had almost bought my heart and mind now had one bead of crushed glass". Her mother did not want An-mei to let Second Wife "buy you(her) for such a cheap price". After that, An-mei would always "remember how easy it is to lose myself to something false". An-mei saw the truth beyond the surface with her mother's help.
After knowing what happened to her mother, An-mei saw how circumstantial her mother was.
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Her mother had "poisoned herself" as she had "taken too much opium". Her mother had deliberately committed suicide as An-mei believed that her mother "would never listen to this woman who had caused her so much suffering" and knew that her mother "listened to her own heart, to no longer pretend". She also knew that her mother had "plan her death so carefully that it became a weapon". The way her mother killed herself gave An-mei more sorrow yet courage at the same time, for her mother "eat ywansyau filled with a kind of bitter poison" saying that "you see how this life is, you cannot eat enough of this bitterness". When her mother lay dying, An-mei heard her mother "whisper to me that she would rather kill her own weak spirit so she could give me a stronger one". This had definitely earned An-mei's respect for her mother.
Because of her mother's sacrifice and courage in her suicide, An-mei saw the change in her, she saw her mother "opened her eyes slowly", yet she "was not scared". An-mei could finally "see the truth, too" and she is "strong, too". As her mother's soul will come back to settle scores on the first day of the Lunar New Year, "all debts must be paid, or disaster and misfortune will follow", making "Wu Tsing fearful of my mother's vengeful spirit". With this, Wu Tsing "promised her visiting ghost that he would raise Syaundi and me (An-mei) as his honoured children" this gave An-mei and her brother the highest and most prestigious positions in the house. When Wu Tsing "promised to revere her as if she had been First Wife, his only wife", threatening Second Wife's position.
In the end, her mother's death gave An-mei the strength to fight back against Second Wife as she "showed Second Wife the fake pearl necklace" and "crushed it under my foot", with Second's Wife hair "turning white".
"And on that day, I learned to shout". An-mei became a stronger self, a better transformation of the replica of her mother.