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Relationships of Waverly Jong and Jing-mei Woo in The Joy Luck Club

The Relationships of Waverly Jong and Jing-mei Woo in The Joy Luck Club

Amy Tan in her novel The Joy Luck Club presents us with daughters who are striving to place themselves beyond the control of strong mothers and become individuals. Adrienne Rich in her book Of Woman Born calls this splitting from the mother, “matraphobia” (Rich, 235), and later notes: “The mother stands for the victim in ourselves, the unfree woman, the martyr. Our personalities seem dangerously to blur and overlap with our mothers; and, in a desperate attempt to know where mother ends and daughter begins we perform radical surgery.” (Rich, 236) Tan shows us two characters in her novel who consciously split from their mother when they feel unable to claim their true selves. These two characters are Waverly Jong and Jing-mei Woo.

Waverly’s break from her mother comes when she perceives her mother’s pride in her ability to play chess being something that increases her mother’s own self worth. Waverly tells us: “I knew it was a mistake to say anything more, but I heard my voice speaking. ‘Wh…

The Role of Men in Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born

The Role of Men in Of Woman Born

Adrienne Rich, via Of Woman Born, has created a wonderfully complex description and analysis of the condition of being a woman in our patriarchal American culture, or at least in the middle-class, white portion of it, as she acknowledges in the introduction to the 1986 edition of the book. Since I happen to fit into this category, I find this book to be very personally satisfying, although I can certainly imagine that Rich’s writings wouldn’t be completely applicable to all women in America. Rich examines the various issues surrounding multiple aspects of being a woman — motherhood, relations with men, relations with children, relations with the patriarchy at large, etc. — with a thoroughness that I find enlightening, honest-yet-hopeful, and refreshing.

There were passages throughout the book that I found exciting because they confirmed or bolstered many of the ideas I’ve had about being a woman in this culture. I have long suspected that women and children are often fearful simply because they are the vulnerable members in a mal…

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