Small and Great

          In the chapter “Rice Husband” of THE JOY LUCK CLUB by Amy Tan, the character Lena told stories about her mother’s special abilities to see bad things before they actually happened, about the process that she got anorexia, and about her marriage that seemed balanced on the surface. After I finished the reading, I found that all of these were related to small things, which were often ignored but had unbelievable power to make the problems become great afterward.

            Lena always believed in her mother’s special abilities. In fact, her mother– Ying-ying – had these amazing abilities due to her great power of observation. For example, Ying-ying had found that her husband’s unhealthy eating habits, so she knew that there must be something bad happened to him (Tan 162). From which Tan shows us the great impacts of small things – unhealthy eating habits lead to death. Similarly, Lena’s eating disorders were the causes of getting anorexia. In addition, in the case of Lena’s marriage, Harold didn’t really understand Lena; he even didn’t know that Lena could not eat ice cream. Because this kind of things seemed so small, Harold didn’t concern about them, then, their marriage was falling down in the end.

            I remember a scene that when Lena told Harold that she loved him in a morning, he just gave a brief and emotionless response that he loved her too (Tan 174). It seemed like a small thing that would not affect their relationship, but indeed, it did. Connected with the real life, we are often indifferent to something that we think it is small, such as saying “thank you” to parents or saying “I love you” to our family members. To some extent, our unconcern causes some changes that we do not realize until it becomes serious. One more instance of this is we may don’t care some bad habits we have; then, when those habits result as diseases or some unpleasant consequences in the future, we will find the power of those small things we don’t care now.

          I really like the Chinese term that Tan uses in this chapter – Chunwang chihan – which was defined as “one thing is always the result of another” (Tan 161). I want to add something that Tan doesn’t mention – this term gives people a suggestion that to pay attention to each small thing because it is always related to a great thing in the end. If anyone wants to have the special abilities as what Ying-ying had, he or she may have to pay closer attention to small things in his or her life.

3 Responses to Small and Great

  1. tasnia says:

    Dear Mei, you are right. People should know about the small thing of dear ones. Observing and knowing dear ones prove that you really care for her or him. We can tell about our mother that they know every small things about us because they really love us.

  2. Masooma says:

    Dear Mei,
    I really liked your analysis about this important message of the story, and I like the Chinese term “Chunwang chihan that you talked about. It is applicable to many things we fail to ignore in our life. If we do not care about our health, it will affect our body gradually; therefore, we suffer in the future. Similarly, if we do not care about improving and strengthening our relationship with whom we feel strongly connected but at the same time annoyed of, it is likely that the relationship loses its value as time elapses and more conflicts are created. It also can be compared to the theme of taking care of small problems at the beginning in the story of The little Prince by Saint-Exupery. The little Prince himself observed his planet everyday to find and remove young Baobabs. At first, it may seem a meaningless task, but those young Baobabs can turn into giant trees one day, impossible to remove. So, if something is important and valuable to us, we should be more careful about it.

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