Sexism in The Joy Luck Club

As I read The Joy Luck Club, I found that sexism and gender discrimination is one of the major motifs of this novel. As far as I read this novel, it becomes clearer that both Chinese and American culture have sexism, though they are two different cultures. Maybe this is true in all prevailing cultures because a novel is a reflection of entire society where we live in.

As a reader of this novel, I encountered various events where ‘sexism’ and ‘gender discrimination’ were focused. In the chapter ‘Scar’, An-Mei Hsu’s mother was hated by her mother for playing the role of a concubine. It is for that she refused to lead her life as widow. Thus, her family treated her so harshly as if she did a bad thing which undermined her family’s recognition. Even if An-Mei Hsu was forbidden to talk about her mother. An-Mei’s mother tolerated such a humiliation only because of her wish to lead a life without memorizing her past-husband’s memory. She wanted to live her own self, and maybe it made her as a ‘bad’ woman to her family.

In the chapter “The Red Candle”, Lindo Jong was forced to act like a ‘perfect wife’. Before that, when she was chosen for Tyan-yu, her mother treated her as if she was not her daughter anymore. It is because her marriage was fixed, so that she was not the part of her mother’s family. After her marriage, she was treated as a servant in her in-law’s house. All these indicate that what the real condition of a woman is in Chinese life-style.

According to the chapter “The Moon Lady”, Ying-Ying was so restless in her nature in childhood. However, her mother forbade her not to be so restless which was not the nature of a ‘girl’ in her opinion. For example, when Ying-Ying chased a dragonfly, her mother told her that ‘A boy can run and chase dragonflies, because that is his nature.’ She also said that ‘But a girl should stand still.’ Her thought and conception regarding the distinctive natures of a girl and a boy reflected in her sayings.

In the chapter “Rules of the Game”, Waverly Jong was hindered by some old men when she wanted to play chess with them. It seemed awkward to them to play chess with a little girl. It was an example of gender discrimination.

Abovementioned examples from The Joy Luck Club show that a girl is only bounded for listening others, but not her own. A girl is treated far different from a boy. Author intends to show how it affects on the behavior of a girl in her childhood.


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