“If the bald person were a real doctor…”

To be frank, the more I read the The Joy Luck Club by
Amy Tan, the more I get confused. If I have interpreted correctly, mothers
(Suyan, An-mei, Lindo and Ying-ying) are trying to teach their daughters the
lessons of life. They want to show their daughters how to behave and how to
live. Mothers in this story usually are teaching their girls to be quiet, reserved,
and use their invisible power to discern the best way for combating the
problems. Mostly, it sounds awkward to me, because finally they cannot conquer,
they fail, they have failed in their marriage and relationship with others. We
see how Waverly and Jing-mei are scolding each other despite that they are
grown up now. Looking at the lives of these characters, we see almost all of
them have some failures in their lives. They cannot be the one they want;
mothers cannot bring their children up as they wished to. Suyuan wants her
daughter to be attached to her Chinese culture, while she shows up the opposite
and becomes a stranger to her mother and her culture because she has lived in
American society. Rose and Waverly, also do not fulfill their mothers’
expectations. Waverly undermines her mother’s rules and argues with her, even
she stops playing chess just because she wants her mother to apologies first.
We have a proverb in Persian which says,If the bald person were a real
doctor, first, he could cure his own baldness.” This proverb means that if
someone who pretends that knows everything and can do help others, indeed was
able to do that he shouldn’t have the same problem in his life since he knows
the answer. So why do I speak about this proverb! Well, in my idea, if these
mothers knew the secrets of life and were able to solve their problem with the tricks
that they teach their daughters, why their lives are so miserable? In the
chapter “ Megapies,” An-Mei’s mother advices An-Mei not to cry, but she,
herself, cries. She wants her daughter to follow her advice and not to show her
sadness and regrets, while she has not found the happiness of life with being
silent. I want to know what these mothers are going to tell their daughters. As
a result, it is really a nuisance when again they try to dictate the same tricks
and traits to their children. In my opinion they are repeating their history
over and over. Do you think the same or you think this story will end
positively?

Salute to Jing-Mei Woo

In my opinion, we are selfish in our nature. I have written this word in italics because in my sense, it is a relative term. What we consider as selfishness maybe that is not the same way what others think. However, there are some people who can change this term in a good sense. For example, maybe a mother is selfish for her own child. She wants her child to be the best of all; different from other child. However, to the child, his or her mother is the epitome of altruism. We can give up our negative selfishness by turning it positively. Though we are all selfish, we have some inner powers what we can use to change our selfishness into altruism. I got this inspiration from Jing-Mei Woo when I read the chapter “Best Quality” in the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

Jing-Mei’s mother wanted her to make a prodigy, but she neglected her mother’s want and expectation. After then, there was a hidden conflict between them. Her mother Suyuan and she never able to understand each other until the crab party where Waverly and his family and boy-friend were invited. It was the climax for this mother-daughter relationship when Jing-Mei chose the bad crab for herself because of the intention of giving her mother the left best crab. Before that Jing-Mei was insulted by Waverly Jong, daughter of her mother’s friend. Waverly treated Jing-Mei in that way that she was in undermining position than her. Later, in dinner, Waverly chose the best crabs for herself and her family without thinking others. However Jing-Mei chose the less good crab because she wanted her mother to give the other good crab. It was the peak moment for Suyuan to understand her daughter’s altruistic nature which is contrast in Waverly’s nature. Then Suyuan understood that maybe Waverly was more intelligent that Jing-Mei, but Jing-Mei’s behavior and nature were far better that Waverly.

It is a great lesson for me to understand the example of ‘selfishness vs. altruism’. We are selfish in many senses, but Jing-Mei’s altruistic behavior has made me to understand that ‘altruism’ is the best quality. We can change ourselves gradually by sacrificing for good things. What we feel by sacrificing something for well-being for someone, we never feel that happiness by showing our selfishness. It is a divine feeling which only altruism can give us.

The Turning Point for Jing-Mei Woo

According to Amy Tan, the few stories of the Joy Luck Club are the incidents where the daughters and the mothers had a gap in communication and thereby in understanding. However, when the book is reaching the last part, the latest few stories talks about how they succeeded in having effective communication and thereby got closer and understandable. Do you think this change on them is a random process? No, definitely not, every change is a result of one or many interventions – perhaps a main event, so these main events can be called as turning points.

Similarly, in the story “Best Quality” by Jing-Mei Woo, also has a turning point where it made a great change in her and her mother’s relationship and understanding. That is when Jing-Mei gave the best crab between the two remaining crab to her mother, Suyuan Woo. During this incident her mother realizes Jing-Mei’s altruistic nature and good side that was possessed by her that was very obvious during this party.

Before this incident, her mother always thought her daughter as a negative character. She did always try to compare Jing-Mei with Waverly and insult her daughter, but after this incident, she stopped comparing Jing-Mei with others due to the fact that she discovered her daughter as a unique character.

When Suyuan Woo gave the life’s importance to her Jing-Mei, she asked if she had given this because of that previous night’s incident. Then her mother, herself, said why she should compare with others. She insulted Waverly at that time comparing her to a crab that was in the waste bucket! This clearly reveals that they both have come to a good understanding and will have intimacy in the future. Perhaps this would have given Jing-Mei the freedom of not being compared with others by her mother.

My mom also always used to compare me with one of my best friends. I am good at academic, while she was comparatively good at doing house hold activities and other stuff. I feel angry when my mom continuously annoys me telling that my friend is doing well and I am not. Once I was harsh on her asking her not to compare me with others. If she was satisfied with my friend, I told her to exchange my friend and me with her parents’ permission! Since my father was in favor me, he also told my mom not to compare me with others hereafter. After that she never did. So I can feel how it would have annoyed Jing-Mei when her mom compared her with Waverly continuously. Finally, this turning point gave her a good solution for their better existence.

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.

wide anle and my response

Education is the most valuable things in the world. If we look at the history of human civilization, we will see that those countries are the leading countries in the world that are advanced in education. On the other hand, developing countries are not so upward in education sector. As we read a documentary film transcript in our reading and writing class, we knew about the image of education in some countries. Now, I am going to tell some of my personal experiences, which will help you to understand the condition of education system in Bangladesh.

It was 2000, when my mother and I went with my father’s workplace to live with him. As my father had a government residence in a village, I was admitted in the village school. There were a few students in my class from three villages. I was surprised comparing with my previous school, which was in my hometown. Additionally, I discovered that my classmate knew very little things and their books were not so good. As I found that I was familiar with most of the things of my new books, I lost my interest in new school and new curriculum. I did get some friends, but they were elder than me. Moreover, the girls used to talk about marriage. They used to say that they would be married within a short time. The classes were taken irregularly as the here teachers were not only insufficient but also irresponsible. There were a few students who passed exams and a fewer students who could pass class five. However, the girls were not sent to high school as it was far from the primary school and the boys joined in farm work or found it unnecessary to go high school. One day, a girl, who was reading in class five over 3-4 years, took me to her home and showed me her baby. I was so surprised that the girl played with me in the school time and now showing her baby. How could a schoolchild have baby? The villagers were also illiterate and a few of them were careful about the education of their children. I found one boy’s mother who was so eager about his study. Her husband and elder son were rickshaw puller, so she wanted to see her younger son educated and doing better job than his father and brother. However, I became sick and wished to study in my previous school, so my parents brought me back home and I was happy.

Though it was a long time ago and many things have improved within those years, the picture has not changed entirely. Early marriage, lack of teachers and schools, parents’ unawareness and illiteracy, and social stereotypes are main reasons for lack of education. I will present the present condition in my proposal!!!! Thank you.

Iliad

While I was reading the epic Iliad, I was surprised that the gods of that time had politics between them. For example, Hera, Athena and Hera’s son were making a plan to throw out Zeus from his seat. Moreover, Achilles and Thetis, Achilles’ mother, were making a plan so that Troy could win over Greece. All characters in the story have politics between them. All were selfish and just wanted to do harm to others for their own convenience. In addition to this, they had never tolerated anyone dishonoring them. If anyone had ever dishonored them, they would make new plans to dishonor and take revenge on them. For instance, when Agamemnon dishonored the priest of Apollo, the god Apollo became angry and sent a plague to the land where Agamemnon and his warriors were living. As a result, all animals died in the place. Similarly, as I mentioned above, Achilles and Thetis had also tried to take revenge on Agamemnon. They wished that Troy would win so that Agamemnon and his warriors would understand how important Achilles was, and Agamemnon would realize that he did his own harm by taking away his prize.

I want to give you my opinion about our country’s democracy, which is a little bit similar to the politics between the gods of the Iliad. By reading this story, I remembered our politicians who make such plans for their own benefit. They all are corrupt. The money which the Government provides them to improve the status of the common people goes into these politicians’ bank accounts. Furthermore, if a person tries to denounce their scandals in public, then he or she becomes his enemy and they try to take revenge on the person.

However, it is possible to remove the corruption and evil ideas of politics from our society. If anyone did wrong, then we should speak in front of all people so that the mistake will never recur. For example, in these days, there are a few people who dare to argue with politicians. Recently, one of the activists, Anna Hazare, wanted to pass a bill which was against corruption, but for some reasons it failed to pass in parliament. Now, a few days ago Anna Hazare was on a hunger strike for four days, and he broke his strike on 9th April 2011(Gulfnews) because the government said that they would pass the bill in a few months (NPR). I hope that all students of AUW will be like Anna Hazare and try to eliminate these evil practices that are coming from long, long ago.

Learn something from others’ experience

 In the chapter “Magpies” of The Joy Luck Club, An-Mei tells her daughter, Rose, the story of her mother who sacrificed her life for the sake of her daughter. In the story of An-Mei‘s mother, we found how she was coerced to be a concubine of the rich man. Through the story of her mother, we can clearly see how helpless women were tortured in the past in Chinese society. It was the second wife who cheated An-Mei. She knew that An-Mei’s mother was a widow and could be easily tricked, so later she played a trick so that she couldn’t escape from them and so that they could have a baby son from her. In Chinese society, it was a sin to remarry; as a consequence, she was not accepted by her own mother and brother.
I think An-Mei was trying to convey the message to her daughter that she had learned from her mother, i.e., not to share sorrows with others. An-Mei wanted Rose to find a path to get rid of the tension that she’d been going through because of the degrading relationship with her husband. An-Mei wants Rose to be able to make her own decision and find her way on her own without seeking help from the psychiatrist.
Through An-Mei we can see how mothers are very conscious about the lives of their children. They know that due to the generation gap, children do not listen to their morals, but still they never stop themselves from teaching their children about the experience they had learnt and heard in their lives. I think this situation which is to try to convey one’s experience to the juniors so that the juniors can learn something from the elders, is prominent in each society. They also try to make the moral interesting in the form of stories sometimes.
For example, I have a cousin who was dumped by her boyfriend. She did everything for him. Whenever he needed money, she would give her money that she had been saving for months to buy herself shoes. When he had any problem, she was always ready to help him. When he was depressed with his frustrating life, she was the one who made her uncle hire him for a job in his office. Despite every deed she had done, she was betrayed. It might be because he found new girlfriend after getting a job. Therefore, this was the reason that I always heard her saying to stay away from boys every time she unexpectedly encountered me with a boy. I never listened to her until I was betrayed by my ex. If I had listened to her, I might have never felt depressed after he left me. From my experience I think we can learn some important things from experienced people. Therefore, I think if Rose had listened to her mother, she would not have had to go to a psychiatrist and spend money without getting any support or solutions from him.

Mother’s Notion

     In the chapter “Rules of the Game,” in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, the main character Waverly Jong said that her mother, Lindo Jong, taught her “the art of individual strength.” Here, in the text, individuals strength is referred to their ability to persuade others to believe their point of view; so that, they can get respect from others. Along with this knowledge, as time elapsed, Waverly Jong realized that “the art of individual strength” could also be one of the best strategies to win chess games in chess competitions. She discovered the chess games seek individuals’ strength to see the end of the game before the game starts. Furthermore, her mother also taught her not to reveal all her secrets. Instead, it should be kept for the appropriate time in the future. In the same way, the chess games for Waverly were the game of secrets which she never told anyone but only exhibited byher actions. In the same way, in the chapter, “Magpies,” of The Joy Luck Club, An-Mei has learned a lesson from her mother’s life experiences that one should never hide one’s sorrow and pain in order to build one’s position in society. As her mother never revealed how she had become a concubine, she had to suffer hatred from her own mother and brother. In one way or the other, each mother has taught her daughter the tricks to lead her life successfully.

      When I was reading these chapters, I remembered one lesson which my mother had taught me when I was in class 10. She said, “If your decisions are rational, then do not worry about what society say. You should do whatever you think is appropriate with the time.” Her notion has made me able to make many right decisions. For example, when I got  admission to AUW, many of my best friends warned me not to leave for Bangladesh. They said it  because I had  joined undergraduate courses and also had completed my 1st year in Nepal. Moreover, they said that I would lose another year of my life reading Access Academy courses. Their words were quiet blunt, but it was true in some way that I would lose two years of my life if I joined AUW. However, when I myself researched about AUW, I made a decision to join. Somewhere inside me I  had a sad feeling for losing two years of my life; a stereotype,which my society had embedded on me, but I know the decision which I made is worthy to make myself a part of today’s competitive world. My mother’s notion for me became an inspiration, which I never regret.

Reality vs. Appearance

I was quite shocked when I read how An-Mei’s mother became concubine of Wu Tsing when I read “Magpies,” one of the chapters in The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Previously, I was thinking that she herself had fled away with him as I read about her family members’ feelings towards her. According to them, she was a ghost, of whom An-Mei was forbidden to talk about so that An-Mei forgets her mother forever. They thought that An-Mei’s mother had no respect for her family and her ancestors, and so did I before I read the chapter, “Magpies.”  Thus, I came to know what we see in our daily lives is not always the reality. Behind it hides a bitter truth, which when gets exhibited, the entire story somersaults.

Though An-Mei thinks that Yan Chang, her mother’s personal maid, did not do a good job by telling her the bitter truth about her mother, I reckon it was good that she told An-Mei the truth. Otherwise, she might have the feeling that her mother was a ghost, and she fled away with Wu Tsing on her own wish throughout her life. The question, “Why did she flee away to become a concubine, thereby creating so much hatred in her family members towards her?” always lingers in her mind.  This may hamper more or less in her love towards her mother even though she lived with her mother later.

It was only after Yan Chang told her the truth that An-Mei began to see the Second Wife’s real image and true nature. Previously, she was already trapped in the Second Wife’s trap when the Second Wife gave her a pearly necklace. However, her mother was so furious about that, and she even stepped on the necklace to show An-Mei that it was an artificial necklace. An-Mei had no idea why her mother hated the Second Wife so much. Moreover, if Yan Chang had not told her the reality, An-Mei could have become a victim of her conspiracy. Who knows the Second Wife may end up making An-Mei Wu Tsing’s fifth concubine; there would be an ample chance of this incident to happen. Hence, I think Yan Chang was right to tell An-Mei the veracity.

Indeed, every person has right to know the truth, that may have an intense effect on his or her life.

Best Quality

I found the chapter, “Best Quality” of the novel, The Joy luck Club awe-inspiring. After discussing the chapter in detail, I realized that everybody has a best quality hidden inside them and they need to discover it by themselves. I thought this lesson will be helpful for those who think that life is full of misery and loss because this chapter mainly talks about discovering our best quality and marching forward for a successful life.

By giving the example of Jing-Mei Woo, Amy Tan, the writer of the novel gives an evocative message i.e., we should be able to believe in ourselves and understand our own best quality. In the story, Jing-Mei always compares herself with others. She thinks everyone is perfect except her, which makes her weak inside. She has a dispute with Waverly, one of the daughters in the novel, about the issues of being talented and wise. Jing-Mei thought that she possessed nothing “good” quality and felt inferior to Waverly. In addition, when Jing-Mei’s mother says to Waverly, one should have innate talent to have in real life, Jing-Mei misinterprets it and thinks that her mother is against her, so she gets more upset. However, her mother is actually blaming herself because by inborn talent she means that she do not have those traits to pass on to Jing-Mei. Hence, this shows that Jing-Mei was going in wrong direction. She always got confused taking decisions and was more inclined to listen to others.

Moreover, she was unaware about her inner quality which was unknown to her. For example, in the Chinese New Year party, everyone picks up a large, delicious-looking crab, while Jing-Mei chooses a small, one-legged crab from the remaining two crabs. This makes her mother understand that Jing-Mei is different from others and is an altruistic person. However, Jing-Mei herself cannot know her best quality hidden inside her, so she always feels hopeless and frustrated about her life. Thus, this shows that everyone possesses a good quality within themselves, but what they need to work at, is to find their own essence and identity. Also, Jing-Mei’s mother gives her a necklace that reminds her of her mother‘s advice, which gradually helps her to understand her life’s importance.

I found the story really inspiring and I learnt from Jing-Mei’s example that we should not always be pessimistic and compare ourselves with others. We should also look at those activities that we excel in. Consequently, this will help us to be positive and remain happy in our lives.
Finally, I would like to ask everyone- what is your “Best Quality” and have you been successful to discover it?