The Magpies and the Tears

At first I was confused by the story of the turtle and the birds drinking the tears in the chapter “Magpies” of the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It is the story that An-mei’s mother tells her the night before she leaves. She tells the story of how she had once cried in the pond and magpies had drunk from her tears and become happy.  An-mei’s mother tells her she never should show her weakness and cry over her misery, for crying doesn’t help her to erase her pain and sorrow. Keeping this lesson in mind, later An-mei tells her own daughter, Rose, not to cry for her marriage to a psychiatrist who cannot help her solve the problem. She believes what Rose needs is to stand and talk on behalf of herself. Rose, who has lost her confidence in herself and lacks the power to make decisions due to a painful experience in the past, is married to a stubborn and single-minded husband, and their marriage hasn’t been a successful one. She is confused with the idea of divorce and the $10,000 check from her husband in front of her. Finally, after shutting up herself in the house for three days, Rose decides it has no use to weep over her misery and the marriage she cannot save. Also, she stops listening to her psychiatrist who cannot give her a proper advice. Instead, she starts to think of herself and what she wants from life for the first time. it might be a little late, but at least she starts living as a tree, strong and independent, not a weed, weak and lining on others.

I agree with An-mei and her mother to some extent. I think when we face a problem or get stuck in a challenging situation that seems beyond our ability to cope with, we shouldn’t show our weakness since we may end up believing that we are really weak. If we just sit and cry, the problem looks bigger and bigger and is somehow nourished by our sense of misery. However, if we always swallow our tears and sorrow, it may burst inside us  and make us feel depressed. I think it is good to cry sometimes because it helps us feel relieved, but at the same time we should remind ourselves that for achieving one’s goal no enemy or obstacle is bigger and worse than desperation and hopelessness.

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3 Responses to The Magpies and the Tears

  1. iratahmid says:

    I agree with you and I think you are right. Sometimes expressing own sorrow helps us to reduce our grief. If we keep it inside us, day by day it will grow bigger. Then one day it kills all of our hopes of living. Moreover, if we throw them out of our heart and take a full heart breath, we can revitalize our hopes.

  2. kalpana23 says:

    Dear Massoma!
    I think we should express both our happiness and sadness with the one nearest to us. My idea here is that when we share happiness with others, it intensifies, and when we share sadness, it subsides, but provided that the person we share our feelings should be very bosom to us. The notion what An-mei inheritted from her mother and then to her daughter, Rose, is not completely wrong, but we should be careful with whom we share our feelings. For example, if we share sadness and drop tears in front of a person with whom you do not have good terms, she may feel very happy and excited because we are sad; however, if we share with our mother, the intensity of the grief diminishes.

  3. I too believe that we need the combination of both habit of swallowing the sorrow and pouring the sorrow. We should pour our sorrow in front of person who is reliable and also we should be careful about which kind of sorrow can be shown and which cannot be. For example, sorrow of An- Mei’s mother was not the kind of sorrow to express. If she had expressed, she would be more cursed for being a concubine where she was just thought to be flew away with unknown person. In contrast, we should express some sort of sorrow like loneliness with a reliable person so that we could be supported instead of humiliation.

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