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Mother Daughter Relationships – Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club

Understanding the Mothers and Daughters of The Joy Luck Club

Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club explores a variety of mother-daughter relationships between the characters, and at some level, relationships between friends, lovers, and even enemies. The mother-daughter relationships are most likely the different aspects of Amy Tan’s relationship with her mother, and perhaps, some parts are entirely figments of her imagination. Therefore, Amy Tan believes that ramification of cultures and tradition between a family can be burdensome and cause the family tree to fall apart.

From the beginning of the novel, we hear Suyuan Woo tell the story of “The Joy Luck Club,” a group started by some Chinese women during World War II. June explains while remembering the memories of her mother, ” ‘We feasted, we laughed, we played games, lost and won, we told the best stories…we could hope to be lucky. That hope was our only joy,’ ” (12). The mothers grew up during perilous times in China. They were raised to never forget an important outlook of their life, which was, “to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, to eat [their] own bitterness” (241). For many years, the mother did not tell their daughters their stories until they were sure that their fractious offspring would listen. By then, it is almost too late to make them understand their heritage that their mother left behind in China. It seems that their family’s legacy cannot seize their imaginations after years, decades, and centuries of blissfulness and sorrow.

Through the eyes of the daughters, we can also see the continuation of the mother’s stories, how they learned to cope in America. With this, Amy Tan touches on an obscure, little discussed issue, which is the divergence of Chinese culture through American children born of Chinese immigrant parents. The Chinese-American daughters try their best to become “Americanized,” at the same time, casting off their heritage while their mothers watch in dismay. For example, after the piano talent show fiasco, a quarrel breaks out between June and Suyuan. June does not have the blind obedience “to desire nothing…to eat [her] own bitterness.” She says to herself, ” ‘I didn’t have to do what my mother said anymore. I wasn’t her slave. This wasn’t China’ ” (152). Unbeknownst to June, Suyuan only hopes and wants the best for her daughter. She explains, ” ‘Only one kind of daughter can live in this house.

Free Things They Carried Essays: Another World

Another World Portrayed in The Things They Carried

In several stories from The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien deals with the way that American soldiers of the Vietnam War related to being “in country,” or out of their own country and halfway across the world. O’Brien creates the concept that Vietnam and the war there is “another world” throughout the stories. None of the soldiers he writes about feel at home in Vietnam, and none of them successfully adapt emotionally to being so far from home.

O’Brien subtly introduces the concept of “another world” in the title story of the book. In describing how easy it would be for a soldier to give in to the pressures of war and just collapse on the trail, thereby getting sent home or to a hospital, the narrator says that “the chopper… would… carry you off to the world [italics added]” (21-22). The careful reader will pick up on O’Brien’s subtlety and realize that if the soldiers – for the narrator does speak for the soldiers as a collective – feel as if Vietnam is not in the world, then they must feel as if they are in “another world.”

This exact phrase is used later in the same story. When Lieutenant Cross is thinking about his girlfriend Martha, he chastizes himself for his useless fantasies. He thinks to himself that Vietnam is “not Mount Sebastian, it [is] another world” (24). Then in “How To Tell A True War Story,” O’Brien reiteraties the concept. The soldiers of the story are hearing music coming from afar, and the narrator describes it as “all very civilized, except this isn’t civilization. This is Nam” (74). This blunt statement captures the soldiers’ feelings that they are in “another world.” To them, Vietnam is a world without civilization; it is a world so different than the one they are accustomed to that they cannot function.

O’Brien returns to the “another world” idea once more in “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong.” As the narrator is describing the loss of Mary Anne’s feminitiy, O’Brien writes that “Cleveland Heights now seemed very far away” (98). Mary Anne has joined the world of Vietnam, the world of the war, and lost contact with the “real world.” This is the same thing that happened to O’Brien’s soldiers. Being in another world caused them to lose their ability to relate to their own world, and this manifested itself in veterans as soon as they came back from the war.

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