“The Joy Luck Club”: Movie vs. Novel

If anybody asks me which one is the best: movie The Joy Luck Club or novel The Joy Luck Club? My answer will be the novel because the novel includes lot of details more than the movie. It helps us to get more detailed picture of the characters and situations.

 The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is a fascinating novel that focuses on the life’s experience of four Chinese mothers and their four American daughters and conflicts between these mothers and daughters. Beside this theme, it also portrayed superstitious beliefs of China to demonstrate the real picture of China and also how it has affected the Chinese mothers’ life.

When I have watched the movie of The Joy Luck Club, I’ve found many differences between the novel and the movie. Hence, I haven’t enjoyed the movie that much. The novel provides deep feelings to the readers and helps readers to get mixed with the characters. In contrast, the movie is made only for recreation, so it hasn’t included many important scenes. For instance, the movie doesn’t show viewers the importance of a red candle which plays significant role in every Chinese girl’s life. That’s why; after watching the movie all viewers will have lots of questions such as why does Lindo have to make a plan for leaving her first husband? Why can’t she tell her mother-in-law directly that she wants divorce from Tyan-yu? Why does An-mei’s mom bring shame for family? What’s wrong if she is married for the second time? All these answers are inside this red candle, which the movie hasn’t demonstrated. However, when viewers will read this novel, they will certainly get all these answers. Hence, I think this movie has become unexciting and at the same time vague for omitting such important stories.

Moreover, the movie has changed some short stories of the novel and it also affects on our feeling and way of thinking. For example, in the novel, I’ve read that when Ying-ying has realized that her husband is doing monkey business with others she has aborted her baby to erase the last sign of her husband. On the contrary, the movie shows that she has killed her two-month-old son unconsciously by drowning him in the bath tub. Thus, when I’ve seen the movie, I haven’t felt that much bad as much I felt while reading the novel because the novel describes how she has punished herself for terminating her pregnancy.   

In conclusion, I believe that because of its vagueness, movie The Joy Luck Club can’t quench viewers thirst as well as novel The Joy Luck Club can.

Portrayal of a Novel as a Movie

After completing the novel The Joy Luck Club, I was thinking how this story would be in the movie because the writer of this novel Amy Tan portrays all the characters in an intricate way. I saw some movies which use the stories from various novels and I noticed that they just took the essence or important things which they needed. I kept it in my mind when I sat to watch this movie and eager to see how this novel turned itself into a movie!

A novel is a big canvas to analyze the characters than a movie, but a movie is probably rather stronger medium to visualize the written characters, and realize their acts vividly. However, what will it be when a novel is portrayed in a movie especially such a complex novel? When I started watching that movie I was eager to find out the answer of this question. I liked the way how all the main characters were introduced in a party of the “Joy Luck Club”, and told their stories by maintaining a sequence. I think this movie clearly showed that why this novel’s name was The Joy Luck Club than the book did!

I missed one symbol of this book when I was watching the movie and that was the red candle. It was a very important thing to symbolize the pain of sexism. The parables of the novel were used a bit differently in the movie. Especially I understood the fourth parable of the novel by watching this movie when Rose told that she was died 60 years ago by taking opium as if she was her own grandmother. It showed that how the spirit transferred generation to generation before it was too late. I was surprised when I saw that Jing-mei’s father gave her the swan feather, the symbol of hope of a mother. It was really a heart touching scene and presented the first parable in a different way. I think some themes of the novel were missed in the novel, for example, the idea of abortion. In the novel Ying-Ying aborted her child, but in the movie it was shown that she accidentally killed her child.

I never thought that I wept after watching this movie. However, I did not know when the drops of water rolled from my eyes at the end of the movie. I realized the pain of a mother, I realized the pain of a daughter, and I realized the pain of not seeing one’s own mother who was founded after many years, but dead. How heart touching it was to visualize all those things. This movie also helped me to realize that The Joy Luck Club became one of my favorite books which taught me to figure out the past conflict with my mother.

Movie Analyzing: The Joy Luck Club

 I read the novel, The Joy Luck Club; I watched the movie, The Joy Luck Club. Although the movie is based on the novel The Joy Luck Club, I felt a quite different feeling after watching the movie. I know that it’s hard for the producer to portray the author’s feelings exactly in the movie; however, in this movie, the producer has made some changes that have influenced my mind differently.

            The most pathetic scene of the movie that watered my eyes is the death of Ying-Ying’s little baby. When I was reading this story in the novel, I didn’t feel so much sorrow because I thought it was her wise decision to abort the unborn child for revitalizing her own life. However, in the movie, I saw how Ying-Ying killed her son accidently when she was thinking of her bustard husband. I felt a strong pain for a mother. I think it’s the producer’s wise decision to change this scene because it’s more heart-touching than the idea of abortion.

            Two important things from the novel that the producer omitted is the story of “The Red Candle” and “The Moon Lady”. I think these are the most important things to show the audiences because these stories bear a great message of the gender discrimination stereotypes. These two stories also symbolize the old Chinese traditions.

            Finally, the producer portrayed the stories of the parables in the movie very wisely. We see the swan’s feather in Jing-Mei’s hand from the parable “Feather’s from a Thousand Li away.”` Also, when Rose says to her husband Ted that she was died 60 years ago taking opium, we find the idea of rebirth as it is portrayed in the parable “Queen Mother of the Western Skies”.

            In conclusion, in comparison to the novel, the movie shows happy endings for each of the daughter-mother’s story. However, some of the main themes of the novel such as emigration problem, language problem, superstition, and Chinese tradition are not clearly portrayed in the movie.

The Difference between the Movie and the Book

When I watched The Joy Luck Club movie after reading the book, I realized that it is very hard to make a movie based on a novel.  In the book the writers can explain about the characters, but they have to be very concise in the movie. Therefore, the movie is very intricately and succinctly composed by the director. It is overt that the movie left out some plots of the book; however, it also adds a little information. Thus, we can say that the movie is not exact a copy of the book. There are a few differences between the movie and the book. Some are listed below.

Firstly, I want to discuss about the things which are missing in the movie but present in the book. Some chapters are missing in the movie. For example, the chapter “The Moon Lady” is missing in the movie. Secondly, the movie doesn’t tell us how Ying-Ying’s first husband died and how she spent her life in a village and married with another person, but these are written in the book. Thirdly, it is not mentioned in the movie that Mei Ching and Mei Han saved the lives of the twin babies of Suyuan. However, it is mentioned in the book. In addition, the movie doesn’t tell how Lindo went to America and encountered with An-Mei in the fortune cookie shop. After that she married with a Cantonese friend. The movie also doesn’t show Waverly’s first husband, Marvin, and her idea to abort her child, Shoshana.

Now, I want to discuss about the things which are missing in the book, but are present in the movie. Firstly, the movie talks a lot about the feather of the swan. The movie says that Suyuan kept the feather for her daughter, but in the book the feature is only present in the first parable. Secondly, Rose had told her husband that she is her grandmother. She died 60 years ago because she poisoned herself with opium.

Another difference is that, in the book, June went to China with her father by an airplane. However, in the movie, June went to China alone by a water ship. Anyway, I enjoyed both the book and the movie. However, after watching the movie, I clearly understand the story of the novel.

I See You, The Joy Luck Club

I didn’t know what feelings I had when I watched the movie The Joy Luck Club. Even though there were some certain differences between the film and the book, this film displayed the main idea that Tan shows in the tangible book The Joy Luck Club, and all stories were still very touching.

Through those characters’ illustrations and memories, I felt that I was reading The Joy Luck Club again. I could see the mothers’ sorrows in China; they were controlled by the rules of society as well as the situations they lived in. As for the daughters, they lived in America but had some qualities that gained from their Chinese mothers. All characters were struggling with their lives; they had to face many challenging things such as looking for their identities and what they wanted. Also, the conflicts between mothers and daughters were shown in a touching way, which caught most part of my attention.

I remember that when Jing-mei and her mother Suyuan had a talk in the kitchen after the crab dinner, Jing-mei said that Suyuan didn’t know Jing-mei’s thoughts. Then, Suyuan replied, “I see you,” and she repeated this sentence a few times. I suddenly understood something –“I see you”—from the depth of Suyuan’s heart. Even though Suyuan had communication problems with her daughter, and she always encouraged her daughter to try to be a prodigy, she could see her daughter’s best quality –unselfishness. Indeed, I think all mothers in this film understood their daughters. Daughters often felt that their mothers always had power to control all the things they did. I think the power of their mothers came from understanding, hopes, and of course, love. Those daughters didn’t realize it until they became aged and faced problems with their marriages and careers. When the mothers told their painful stories about their past in China, they passed their hopes and spirit to their daughters, which created a way for them to walk out of troubles and found what they really wanted. “I see you” was the power the mothers had as well as the bond between two generations. I can see that the daughters understood their mothers in the end, and I’m sure they wanted to give their mothers a hug, saying, “Mom, I also see you.”

As it was a film that lasted less than two hours, it definitely could not contain everything showing in a 332-page book. However, it still has the power to teach people a lot of things related to generations, cultures, and love. I dare not to say that I have understood everything in this film or this book, but I hope and try to use the knowledge I have learned from The Joy Luck Club in my real life, and tell all the characters, “I see you, The Joy Luck Club.”

” Mamma, where are you?”

It was the time when the World War II was destroying everything in China. We, the twin daughters of Lee family were watching our mamma Suyuan then. She was afraid as an officer of the Kuomintang secretly warned her that the Japanese were coming to kill our family. We were not afraid as our mamma would never let anyone to harm us. We, two were laughing towards her because we knew that it would relief mama at least for a while. In the middle of the night, she picked up us and fled on foot. We were not crying so much though we were hungry. It was because we could understand that our mamma was suffering from dysentery and she was becoming sick. Her hands were bleeding from blisters because she had been carrying us in the cart for a long time. At last our mama gave up. She felt that she was about to die. We were apples of her eyes, and she could not even think of living without us, but she abandoned us only for our sake. She was telling us “It’s better not to die next to you. Nobody saves babies with such bad luck. Who wants two babies with ghost mother following them?” Saying this she was crying and left us. It was the result of our mamma’s good intention which led one farmer family to take us and look after us for many years.

Many years have passed by. Now, finally we have found our mamma. She wrote in her letter that she will come to meet with us today, and our younger sister Jing-mei also will come with her. We can’t wait anymore. At last, the moment comes. The plain has arrived, and we are so excited to seeing our mamma whom we lost when we are not even one year old. But, where is our mamma? Only a girl is coming towards us, and she is may be Jing-mei. We understand that our mamma will never come to see us as she has already gone to the place from where no one can return. Jing-mei comes and hugs us. We feels that our mamma hugs us. Dear mamma, can you hear us? Are you watching us? You must be happy seeing we three sisters   become united forever. We have fulfilled your long cherished desire, Mamma, by being together. We know Mamma; you are here, beside us forever.

Effectual role of death Suyuan

In the story The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Suyuan seemed to have effective role in spite of her death from the beginning of the story. Her daughter spoke for her and it gave clear view of her life as effectively as other mothers did who spoke for their own story. In fact, after watching the movie The Joy Luck Club, I found that the death of Suyuan made this story more effective and more interesting. In the beginning of film, I felt sorry for Jing Mei as she was the only person to be alone without her mother while taking photograph; rest of other daughters were with their mothers and were busy in preparing each other for the photograph. In the other side, Jing Mei was standing alone and she seemed to be sad in absence of her mother, but in the process of travelling of Jing Mei to China and at the time of meeting her step sisters, I felt as it was better that Jing Mei met those lost two twins sisters instead of Suyuan. If Amy Tan had chosen Suyuan to be a person to meet those lost babies, Jing Mei would not realize her mother’s feeling. May be Jing Mei would never understand her mother as her mother would be busy in searching her step sisters and she would not get a chance to have sufficient time to spend with her mother. As a result of which, Jing Mei would not get a chance to know her mother.

In addition, if Suyuan was to be person to meet those babies, I would not have been as curious as I had been for Jing Mei. I was curious whether Jing Mei would be accepted by her step sisters or not. It was obvious in case of Suyuan that she would be accepted by her daughters as they were part of her and they were told about her mother from their childhood. Furthermore, the death of Suyuan was indirect cause of returning of Jing Mei to China as she wanted to visit China to meet those sisters and fulfill her mother’s wish to get those sisters back. So, I found the death of Suyuan more effective from various aspects in this story.

War’s Ugly Face

In the last chapter of The Joy Luck Club, Jing-mei finds her twin sisters, the girls that her mother had to leave beside a road outside of Kweilin during the war. The story of Suyuan, her struggle to save her daughter’s lives, and later her long quest to find them is very heart touching. But it is the nature of war. Most of the wars in the history had left long-lasting impacts on family relationships. Many children have lost fathers or mothers because of wars and had nobody to support them.  Many others have lost their body part or got seriously injured during a war, and consequently remained a burden for their families, or may have got divorce from their spouses.  Some family members also were separated from each other because of unexpected conditions of the war.

The war in Afghanistan separated many children from their parents and many sisters from brothers. My mother was one of those people who had to say goodbye, in tears, to her parents and siblings without knowing when she could meet them again. She migrated with her husband, my father, and her four children to Iran to take refuge. She was married and had to move wherever my father would go, and my father decided migrating to Iran was the best option for the family. My mother met her father and two of her brothers later in Iran who had come for a short visit, but not her mother and her younger brother and sister. She always had the nostalgia about visiting and talking to her mother again, but there was war continuing in Afghanistan, and it was not safe to travel. Besides, it was very expensive in those times to travel across the border. We were very young when she heard about her youngest brother being killed in the war, but I remember the sad moments when she was told about the death of her old father and then her oldest brother. It is very painful that you just hear the news about the death of a beloved one, a family member, but you are not able to cry over their grave or share his or her memory with other family members to get calm. The only things she had from her family were some old pictures, which she used to look at when she missed them. We sometimes received some letters from my uncles, but my mother couldn’t even call them, because all the phone lines were damaged during the war.

However, finally the war apparently ended in Afghanistan, and my mother managed to meet her mother and remaining siblings after 25 years. Everybody was crying, but this time with smile in their heart.

Migration: Leaving Everything Behind

Since one of the themes of The Joy Luck Club was migration, it would be a good idea to write a little about migration, “the movement of people across a specified boundary for the purpose of establishing a new or semi-permanent residence” (In depth Resource). This was an academic definition of migration. Many researches have been done about migrants and migration and their effects on globalization, economy and so on, but here I want you to know a little about the emotional aspect of migration.

Tired of being worried for a long time, the woman looks at her husband pleading:
: I’m sick of being alone for two years. I can’t see your vacant place at dinner again. You even were not here when our son was born. Last time after you left home, Hamid kept crying until night and he became sick for one month. Please, not this time. Don’t leave me here.
– So what do you say? I am tired of being far from you too. I am worried all the time that what are you doing here in this lonely place.
The next day, the husband comes excitedly to his wife.
– I have decided to take you with myself. Let’s go to Iran. We can be together and you can be more comfortable too.
In just a few days, the wife starts packing their bags. She is preparing for going to another country – to migrate. She gives many things away, her favorite dishes, her favorite clothes with embroideries that she had made by her hands and all the beautiful things that she had gathered. She was giving them away since she was going to somewhere else that was not like Afghansitan. People in Iran were not wearing what she used to; they did not like what she liked. In months, they are leaving their hometown, where they had been born and grown up, where they had learnt to talk and play. The woman, while leaving her village, is looking at the house which her son started to walk in. the man was looking at the yard and the trees that he had planted, they were young and green. Shedding tears, both of them leave their home and wish to have a good life in Iran, to be together.
After twenty years, they are all together, the man, the woman and their children. They are together but something is left behind – their country, nationality and memories. The children have finished school. They have learnt to say Madar to their Abay (mother), to wear dark and gray clothes instead of the bright pink and yellow clothes. They are almost Iranian when they decide to return. All are excited to see Afghanistan again. They start packing their bags again. They had been looking for finding dresses to look like what they could remember from Afghanistan. Leaving another home behind, they reach to their dream country, but they find themselves in another world. Everything has changed since twenty years ago and now they wonder how they can adapt another environment!

The Mid-autumn Festival

Amy Tan portrays the third greatest festival of the Chinese people in “The Moon Lady,” as a single separate chapter in The Joy Luck Club. Therefore, her approach clearly implies how important the Moon festival is for the Chinese people. Before I researched for my essay (that we have recently done), I was thinking that Tan has created the story of the Moon Lady by herself to make the novel more intricate and convincing. However, after research, I got to know that the Chinese people really commemorate the Mid-autumn festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar with profuse excitement and extravagance like we celebrate Bijaya Dashami in Nepal.

Moreover, I enjoyed reading the small drama in the chapter in which some people pretend to be the Moon Lady, whereas some pretend to be her husband Hou Yi. Firstly, I was thinking that they created the play making the main character the Moon Lady just because of the Festival, but I had thought that from where the concept came. During my research, I read detailed information about the festival, and knew that the story in the drama is one of the most popular legends about the existence of the Moon Lady.

 According to the legend, once, there were ten suns in the sky, so the Emperor ordered a bowman to destroy nine of the suns. Meanwhile, I was a bit distracted. I was thinking, oh! What would happen if there were really ten suns? I am sure I wouldn’t be here reading about the Moon festival. Even the imagination is making me sweat and shudder, what if I am exposed to ten suns in real life? I would be converted into ash within a fraction of a second. Coming back from the distraction, I continued to read about the topic that after the archer, Hou Yi had done what he was supposed to do; the Emperor bestowed him an immortality pill. Unfortunately, his wife finds the pill and takes it. As a result, she is banished to stay in the moon. Since then the couple have been separated from one another and meet only on the night of the mid-autumn night. Hence, this festival is celebrated to admire the meeting of the couple.

I could just imagine how amazing it would be to meet the husband after a year long departure.