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.

Tries and Responsibilities

In the chapter “Half and Half” of THE JOY LUCK CLUB, Rose tells some stories about her marriage and the accident in which her brother Bing died. From those stories, especially from the part that about her mother, Rose realizes that both fate and faith are essential for everyone.

I’m impressed with the things what Rose’s mother – An-mei –dose after her son falls into the sea. Even though she is very sad, she still gives her a chance to have a try; she goes to the beach again and does several things the next day, which she thinks will get her son back. Although she doesn’t make it, her actions give a message that we should give us a try whenever we can, no matter how impossible it seems.

Certainly, we often have the same feeling with Rose, “There’s no hope. There ‘s no reason to keep trying” (Tan 139). An-mei’s response is that this is your fate, and this is what you must do (Tan 139). I don’t want to get into the topic of fate because I don’t know whether all people believe it. However, I do agree with An-mei’s point that this is what you must do. The reason is that all people do things for themselves and others in their lives, so they have the responsibilities for themselves as well as others. We want to deny everything we don’t like, but we have to do something when it is a requirement of our responsibilities sometimes. Responsibilities can be a set of rules existing in societies, but they also can be a sense that everyone should have. From the example that An-mei keeps telling herself to try something that seems futile, we can see that it somehow related to her responsibilities: As a mother, she have personal feelings with her son, so the action that she try to look for her son shows that she is responsible for her feeling of love, or we can say that she is responsible for herself. Moreover, since her role is a mother, she definitely has the responsibilities to take care of her children, so she must give her a try.

On the other hand, in terms of Rose, she lets everything happen and never pay attention to what she really wants which shows that she doesn’t have a strong sense of responsibilities, no matter for her marriage or herself.

Therefore, sometimes we really need to give us a chance to have a try because we must do it, which may meet our responsibilities.


Scene 1: Ying-ying St. Clair is lying in her bed. Her eyes are staring at the ceiling. Through her changing expressions, we can see what she is thinking about:

 I feel tired, really. I don’t know who have taken my things away; the person is so cruel that he or she always tries to snatch my things away – my Chinese name, my birth date, my second child… It must be a ghost! The ghost wants me to become a ghost, too. However, he or she didn’t make it; I was left on the way to my second child’s world. There is nobody by my side, and I don’t know who can guide me get out of here; in other words, I am lost. I can’t find a way to back home, nor can I find a way to reach my poor second child’s world. Cold wind blows, and black clouds emerges from the sky that above my head. When I look at the sky, I suddenly find that I am so familiar with this feeling, which I experienced several years ago. At that time, I was Ying-ying, not Betty St. Clair. That night, I saw how the moon lady went to the moon, and I was trying very hard to tell her my wish. Now, I also want to tell her my wish, but the black clouds don’t let me to see her. I know, again, both of us are separated from others’ world.

I had already known there would be something wrong happen before my poor child came to the earth, but I didn’t think it could be such serious. I know that must be a punishment given by my ancestors, for my carelessness. Yes, I’m always careless. I’m so careless that I get lost again and again. Now, nobody can tell who I am and what I want, neither can I. Sometimes I think the ghost who brought me to here was one of my ancestors, and he or she left me here because there was a confusion existing in his or her mind: whether I was a member of this family. I have struggled too much to find out who I am, but now, I’m so tired, and I just want to have a rest and wait to be found.

“Mom!” I heard someone was calling me. Then, I turn around.

Scene 2: Ying-ying turns around, and Lena is standing in front of her. “Mom, I’ve found you,” says Lena. A drop of tears comes out from Ying-ying’s eyes.

My Response to “On Self-Knowledge”

Kahlil Gibran’s poem “On Self-Knowledge” shows us that we all have infinite treasure in the depth of our souls, which most of us haven’t realized.

“The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea; And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.” When I read this sentence, a scene was shown in my mind: A little boy was playing on a balcony, where there was no any guardrail though it was on the 15th floor. At that time, his mother, who had bought a lot of food, was walking back home. Seeing his mother was coming back, the boy was so happy that he wanted to hug her immediately. Then, he move forward and fell down. When everyone thought that the boy was dying, his mother, who was around 50 meters away from the building, saved him before he touched the ground! That is a real story that I was told by one of my teacher several years ago. In terms of the story, there have been many people curious that how the mother could run such fast. After a lot of discussions, some people gave their conclusion: human beings can do something that seems impossible in a particular situation. In other worlds, human’s abilities are infinite.

I really agree with the point about human’s infinite abilities. However, to find out our own abilities and knowledge that hidden in our souls, a very important thing we have to do is to know ourselves. We have to know what do we want, and why we want it. Because our “hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights,” we have to listen to our hearts. As long as we know in words that which we have always known in thought, we can find out the way that leads to the treasure of our infinite depths. In other words, we can learn something that we can never learn from others by looking our own souls, which may help us to make impossible things happen in our lives, just as what has happened in the story above.

Things about human beings are always complicated. I may not know what knowledge and abilities I really have inside, or what knowledge and abilities I’m going to have in the future. However, I know that there is no measurement or boundary of these things. The only thing I can do is to listen to my soul, and always encourage me to have a try, by which I may discover what I have known and what I can do.

My Response to “The Way We Age Now”

            “The Way We Age Now,” which was written by Atul Gawande, gives us an image that what a person will be when he or she becomes old from the view of biology. In addition, Gawande has written several pages to tell two stories about two old people – Jean Gavrilles and Felix Silverstone, from which we can see the significance of geriatricians.

            I know there is a fact that we can’t prevent growing, so we can’t refuse to become old even though there have been many people who try to find out the secret of immortality. We all follow the way that we age as what Gawande described in the essay. However, with the development of technology, more medicine has been produced to care for people’s heath. Moreover, more people can access to medical care with the development of their living levels. Hence, people’s life spans have been expanded, to some extent. In this condition, people can live longer, but they still can’t avoid the suffering of teeth loosing or high blood pressure or other problems. For example, in the cases of Jean and Felix, both of them are around 85 years old, which shows that their life spans are great. Nevertheless, they have to face the decline of their bodies and mind. As a consequence, people start to think how to make the old live easier. In other words, people manage to avert some worst effects that the old would suffer. In the story of Jean, I learned that Jean’s life became better after she took the plans given by Bludau who was a geriatrician. Similarly, Felix, who himself was a geriatrician, could manage his life very well though he was very old. (He lived independently, cared for his disabled wife, and continued his research). I know both of them started the care of themselves from the small things of their lives, such as what to eat, how to eat and so on. On the other hand, not all people have this kind of knowledge; thus, the demand for geriatricians becomes larger and larger.

            Although immortality is a dream that most people have, living easier is also a thing that people wish for when they are old. In my opinion, when people search some ways to expand life spans, they should pay attention to how to live better as well, which I think is more practical in our lives. Therefore, I hope there will be more geriatricians, and there will be more people can suffer less and enjoy more during the last period of their lives. “The night is lovely, isn’t it?” maybe more people can say that.

My Response to “The Giving Tree”

The poem “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein tells us a moving story: A tree loved a boy, and she tried her best to make the boy happy by giving things throughout the boy’s life.

When I read the poem, I could not help comparing the tree as a mother, and the boy was her son. Then the poem became a story about the human beings. After a deep consideration, I’m going to paraphrase the story as following:

Once upon a time, there was a boy. When the boy was young, the happiest thing for him was to stay with his mother. He always wanted to hug her, play with her, and get food from her. When he felt tired, he slept in his mother’s arms. Obviously, the boy loved his mother very much at that time. However, after the boy grew up, he went to school. Then he started to have many friends. He spent all his spare time with his friends or computer games. Therefore, he seldom went home or had a talk with his mother. As long as he wanted money, otherwise, he didn’t want to stay with her a second. Then, the boy became an adult. He needed more things at that time, such as a house, a wife, and a successful career. He needed an investment, but he didn’t have enough money, then he turned to his family — his mother. After a few years, the boy realized that his siblings were intending to comminute his parents’ wealth after his mother was sent to hospital. The boy came to his mother’s sickbed and told her that he still had many things to do, and again, he needed her help. A decade later, the boy became very old. One day, he went to visit his mother. He spent a long time to climb a mountain to the place in where his mother was. He fell on his knees when he arrived, and asked her what he could do for her at that time, but his mother would not answer him anymore. The boy sat with his mother as he did when he was young, then a drop of tears fell into the earth…

It is the story what I heard from “The Giving Tree.” I don’t know what your feelings will be after you read it. The only one thing I want to point out is I hope this kind of tragedy won’t be acted by human beings anymore. No matter the giving tree or the boy, I’m sure both of them are not really happy during the process of giving and receiving, are they?

The Old

            The poem “On Aging,” which was written by Maya Angelou, shows an old person who doesn’t want people’s pity or sympathy; it gives a piece of information that the old need people’s understanding.

            When I read the poem, I felt it is usual that the old have this kind of feelings – don’t want others’ pity. However, I was a little surprised that an old person wants to sit alone and doesn’t need others’ chattering. It is very strange to me because I haven’t seen any person like that. My grandmother, for instance, is a person who wants people to talk with her and stay with her. She is alone at home since my parents and sister are working outside. She often goes to market to meet her friends but not to shop. Especially, Grandmother’s attitude of loneliness is obvious when a festival is approaching – she visits neighbors one by one to avoid staying alone at home. Similarly, I have seen many old people do those kinds of things to relieve their loneliness. My grandmother and those old people have given me an image of the old: No matter how strong they are or how positive attitudes they have, they are willing to chat with others, especially to their family members. Nonetheless, Angelou portrays a different image of an old woman: she sits alone quietly, has a peaceful expression, uses one of her hands touch her chest where she can feel her heartbeat. It is a beautiful picture that nobody wants to disturb the wonderful peace. I very inspired that the old can enjoy their loneliness, which tells me that old people can be as optimistic as young people, and they have their certain beauty even though they are old.

            Everyone in the world very enjoys the time when he or she is young; there are numbers of people cannot face the facts that they are becoming old. I guess that if those people have a chance to read Angelou’s poem, they may know they still have beauty, which is different, even though they walk slowly, stumble seriously, and climb difficultly. Being old is not a terrible thing; the real terrible thing is people can’t understand the wonderful world that the old have. No matter my grandmother or the person in Angelou’s poem, the one thing what they really need from the youth is understanding.

About Poverty


“You ask me what is poverty? Listen to me. Here I am, dirty, smelly, and with no ‘proper’ underwear on and with the stench of my rotting teeth near you. I will tell you. Listen to me. Listen without pity. I cannot use your pity. Listen with understanding. Put yourself in my dirty, worn out, ill-fitting shoes, and hear me.”

That is the first paragraph of the essay “What is Poverty” written by Jo Goodwin Parker. Do you remember the moment when you read it?  Was there something hurts your heart? Last time when I wanted to share my feelings in our class, I failed. Friends, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to make you sad, yet this essay is really moving. I thought the author must write it with her soul, as I was touched by every sentence and even every single word.

Although people often say that everyone is equal when he or she comes to the earth, there are few people have experienced the equal time. The poor are the poor, and the rich are the rich. Even though the poor are as smart as the rich, as intelligent as the rich, and as kind as the rich, they are poor. They have to face series problems which may determine the time that they live on the earth. They have to learn to share things; younger sisters have to wear the clothes that their elder sisters used to wear, and elder sisters have to give up the opportunities to go to school for their younger sisters’ studies. They sell their blood. They sell everything they can sell. In these kinds of conditions, no one can complain. Since they are poor, they have already lost the rights to complain anything. As long as they have food to eat, have clothes to wear, it’s enough. That’s why the poor are very easy to be satisfied.

However, being satisfied doesn’t mean that they don’t want to improve their poor conditions. Indeed, they want. They also want to have a good living and change their lives so that their next generation can get rid of this terrible situation. In order to achieve their dreams, they ask for help, but they are so weak that they can’t walk through the system that people created. They really don’t want to tell others how poor they are, as they cannot use people’s pity. There is common belief among the poor: no matter how poor they are, they need others’ respect. When they tell their stories to others, what they want just understanding. If someone is kind enough that he or she wants to help them, please help them without pity, instead, with his or her sincere, which means a lot to them.

Indeed, poverty is not a permanent thing for a person. If there is any possibility to place the poor into a situation where they can really have the opportunities to create what they want, those people are not poor any longer. Whereas, who can be the force which can do the transition? You may know the answer.


Hello, girls! I’m Mei Hui, one of your classmates~Hope everything is going well with you!  I’m so excited that we will be able to share many things on this blog. Good luck to you! ^_^