Review Of The Novel 'The Joy Luck Club' By Amy Tan

Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is about four Chinese women who fled China in the 1940s and their very American daughters. Every chapter, the point of view changes from the mothers to the daughters and shows what is going through their minds in the same problems. The author uses tactics such beginning in a pivotal moment of telling us that Jing-Mei Woo recently lost her mother, and would be replacing her position in the mahjong table at the Joy Luck Club that Jing-Mei’s mother started. Then it brings in the most intriguing character of the story so far Suyuan Woo, Jing Mei’s mother, was determined, courageous, and patient and sought a new life in San Francisco. She was married to her first husband in China but left him in the perils and hardships of war.

These tactics are effective. It started off with a scene of strong mother-daughter bonding,. Secondly, when the mention the death of Suyuan, again the sentiment but the way it was written was just so genius. It said that she had a new idea in her head, but before it could come out it burst. It’s amazing because this is coming from the father explaining cerebral aneurysm to his 36 year old daughter. Lastly it talks about Suyuan wonderful life in the town of Kweilin. How she lived a good life, but how that turned bad because refugees from other towns came in stayed in the streets and spread crime and disease. I don’t know how true that is but it seemed pretty interesting because we are still to see the perspective of the other three ladies who fled at the same time as Suyuan.

In the Joy Luck Club, there are 8 protagonists. All these protagonists have faced an ordeal will do so in the future. If there was somebody like a protagonist, it would be Suyuan Woo, who starts the Joy Luck Club. Even though they are going in different stories they still make back to play games in the club, which connects them.

So far, all the protagonists seem kind of snappy and up front because of their rich and snobby backgrounds. If their table was the only table to eat lunch at, I’d rather sit outside because I dislike people who are snappy. But, it’s all about perspective. Maybe to Jin Mei, the first protagonist, her mother and aunts are good people because she’s grown up with them around.

The antagonist in this story is not a person but a trial. All these people came to America for a better life . Some left war stricken life while others had different issues. They fight their antagonist and came here to live a peaceful life. But, for the new generation the ordeals are different. They don’t have to leave war stricken towns or leave family behind. They have to face society, school, and loss of a dear one. To the new generation, the troubles hold a closer value because the time period is different.

In the Joy Luck Club, the foreshadowing wasn't very abundant. However, it was done in a very effective manner. The tone of this author is quite bemused and respectful, which is why sometimes an event is narrated twice so that we get more than one perspective—oftentimes a mother’s and a daughter’s. I think it foretells emotions, later unveiled, which might expose the true nature behind certain words. The narrators are highly subjective and tend to focus mostly on their feelings.

The Joy Luck Club’s naturalness somewhat restricts the use of much foreshadowing. However, because the characters are in pairs, a number of the challenges faced by the mothers come to be repeated in some form in their daughters’ lives like foreshadowing. The strengths and weaknesses defined in the mothers are also exhibited in their daughters, and they strive with the same issues, whether in relationships with men or other women.

An example of foreshadowing is when Jing-Mei Woo goes to the club again. Without having anyone tell me, I know her corner on the table was the East. 'The east is where things begin, my mother once told me, the direction from which the sun rises, where the wind comes from.”

The author is foreshadowing the next situation that will soon happen. The mothers of the club present Jing-Mei with a letter and some money. This letter was written by Suyuan’s other daughters (whom Jing-Mei had never met) in Kweilin, her mother’s hometown. The other mothers had told Jing that they asked her to travel to Kweilin to inform them of the loss of their mother. That acceptance of taking her mother’s seat at the table had foreshadowed the acceptance of starting a new beginning with the other family members she hadn’t known. I'll give it a 9 out of 10.

In The Joy Luck Club, the conflict was a mixture of man vs man, man vs society, and man vs self. The Chinese mothers strive to teach their American-born daughters with an understanding of their Chinese heritage, yet also attempt to defend them the pain they felt as girls growing up in China. The daughters, on the other hand, often see their mothers’ guidance as a form of overcritical interfering, or as a failure to concede American culture. The daughters then respond to their mothers by attempting to further their mothers’ adaptation.

As man vs. man, both the mothers and the daughters struggle with issues of identity: the mothers try to reconcile their Chinese pasts with their American presents; the daughters attempt to find a balance between independence and loyalty to their heritage. 'She doesn't want to be influenced by her mother's opinions, her criticisms of everything that she loves, yet Waverly fears that even if she 'recognized her sneak attack, she was afraid that some unseen speck of truth would fly into her eye, blur what she was seeing and transform it' (181) into the thing that her mother saw, into something full of faults, something that is not good enough for her. Waverly resents this, yet Lindo believes that it is for Waverly's good.

The climax of her story may be said to be Jing-Mei's trip to China. This part also shows the mixture between man vs. society and self. This also serves in many ways as a test of how “Chinese” Jing-mei feels, of whether she knows her mother well enough to tell her story and carry out her dreams. These issues are also at stake in all of the other characters’ stories. So, she embarks on her trip to China and receives her first impressions of her mother's home. I'll give it a 10 out of 10.

In the Joy Luck Club, Jing-Mei’s motivations shift throughout the book. During the years before her mother’s death, she was strong-willed and reserved. When Suyuan dies, Jing-mei not only by replacing her at the Joy Luck Club but by stepping up to fulfill her mother’s greatest wish: to meet Suyuan’s twin daughters and tell them about her. This book is mostly about Jing-mei’s path toward discovering her mother and discovering herself at the same time. Jing-mei begins the novel as remembering Suyuan as hyper-critical and demanding. Jing-mei always felt that she had disappointed her mother’s and that her mom refused to see who she was. But Jing-mei was wrong. An important moment of reflection, the memory of a New Year’s dinner—Jing-mei got belittled by Waverly and served herself some crab of suspicious quality. Jing-mei's mom scolds her for failing to recognize 'best quality'—a statement that was careless about taking the inferior crab but was also about Jing-mei's lack of self-respect. Suyuan then gave Jing-mei a green jade pendant, calling it Jing-mei’s 'life's importance.' Suyuan told her daughter that the jade improves with time.

After the death of her mother and during her trip to China to find her stepsisters, she becomes even more strong-willed Jing-mei's understanding of her mother's love only deepens when she travels to China to find her long-lost half-sisters. Jing-mei had always been aware of the gap her sisters had left in Suyuan's life—after all, Jing-mei's name was fraught with their absence. ('Jing' means the essence of something, and 'mei' means little sister. Basically, she was named to be the essence of her older siblings.) But the process of meeting her sisters and fulfilling her mother’s dream helps her understand the mother-daughter bond they shared. When she takes a picture with her newfound sisters, they all see the family resemblance. At this moment, we think Jing-mei has realized she can live up to her mom's expectations. Even though the novel ends at this point, we think Jing-mei went on to learn even more about her own 'best quality.'      

16 December 2021
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