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.

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.


After reading “Magpies”, I truly came to realize the giving nature of mothers. They can do anything for their children; they can even give their own life in order to make their children’ life better. Similarly, in “Magpies”, An-Mei’s mother always wanted An-Mei to be in better place though she was discarded from her own house for being concubine of rich merchant Wu Tsing, after the death of her first husband. So firstly, she brought An-Mei to Wu Tsing’s house from her brother’s house, so that An-Mei could not have to suffer from narrow traditional concepts, which were the most valuable things for her brother and mother. After that also, she could not find the better place in Wu Tsing’s house due to her disrespectful position of concubine, so that she decided to give up her life. Wu Tsing used to greatly believe in ghost and the dangers, ghost can cause if the requirements of that ghost is not fulfilled and An-Mei’s mother was well-known that Wu Tsing knew her only one wish, that is her daughter’s prosperous life. So, she sacrificed her own life to provide the better life to An-Mei.

In similar way, our parents also give their best in order to provide us the best life. Since our birth, our parents always try to provide us the best things in our life. It may be the best food, the best dress, the best toys, the best school uniform, the best education and all the best things that are required in our life. Actually, our parents spent their whole life in order to make our life best. Similarly, my parents have always given the best things in my life, the best school, the best college and now the best university in spite of many troubles and financial crisis. My parents have always done their best to provide me and my brothers with the best education so that we can be successful person in our life and stand on our own feet. So, I always proudly say that my parents are the best parents.

Mother’s Love is as vast as the Sky……

      In “Magpies,” one of the chapters of The Joy Luck Club written by Amy Tan has presented the infinite love of mothers as An-Mei’s mother sacrifices her life to make An-Mei’s life more comfortable and safe. She poisons herself by eating poisoned dumplings and dies two days before the Lunar New Year. It is believed in Chinese culture that on the third day of someone’s death the spirit would come back to fulfill incomplete tasks and in the New Year one should be free from all debts. In the case of her mother, her third day of death would be the Lunar New Year. This would compel Wu-Tsing to take good care of An-Mei and give her a better life. An-Mei’s mother is a representative of the mothers in the world, all of whom bear equal altruism and love for their children.

“A mother is a mother,” is the only way to express how intense and indefinable mother’s love for their children is. The sacrifice of An-Mei’s mother for the sake of An-Mei’s better life reminded me of an incident of my childhood. I was very young when this incident occurred. It was my best friend’s mother whom I saw lying in a bed. I was there to accompany my best friend. Her mother was in her pregnancy when suddenly she fell down from the stairs and had to decide between her life and her baby’s. My best friend’s aunt approached and told my friend to visit her mother as we were outside the room. She told my friend to say whatever she wanted as she may not be able to see her again. We didn’t know what her aunt was alluding to. We went inside and I stood behind my friend where she was embracing her mother and talking to her in a low voice. Her mother was then taken to another room and we were sent back to my home. The next morning, we learnt that her mother had died giving birth to her daughter. It was one of the saddest moments of my life where I saw a baby girl’s new life beside her mother’s dead body. She was a mother who sacrificed her life for her daughter.

To conclude, the word mother is vast as no one can measure the love within them, the same love made to sacrifice An-Mei’s mother and my best friend’s mother’s lives.

My Body Is My Enemy!

              When I read the chapter ‘Magpies” from the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, I feel very upset. In this chapter An-Mei narrates the truth how her mother becomes a concubine of the affluent man Wu-Tsing. An-Mei comes to know how her mother was coerced into being Wu-Tsing’s concubine through the manipulations of his second wife. The second mother arranged her evil plan to make her mother a concubine. She helped Wu-Tsing to rape An-Mei’s mother. When she was raped, her family didn’t accept her. She didn’t have any choice but to be a concubine of Wu-Tsing. She had to lead a disgraceful life, but she didn’t reveal anything to others until her death as she thought her sorrows would give them joy.

            Reading this chapter I reminisce about the secret post I read in the “Freedom of Expression Week” by AUW. One girl wrote how she had been raped by her cousin. She wrote that she didn’t reveal the truth to anyone, and she couldn’t take revenge on that bustard. I wonder, what would happen if she revealed the truth to her family? I am sure her family would tell her to hide the truth because it could bring dishonor for her family. There are hundreds of girls in Bangladesh, who are sexually abused by the male people in this society. They can’t express their sorrows to their family, and they can’t do anything against those bustards. How helpless we are! These situations remind me that gender discrimination is not only a social injustice; rather, it’s also a biological phenomenon. Our body is our own enemy! When a woman is raped by a man, what can she do without her family’s support? An-Mei’s mother was a pious widow who used to go to the temple every day for the peace of her husband’s soul. When she was raped, her family misunderstood her. How it is possible! How can parents become suspicious about their daughter’s character?

            When An-Mei’s grandparents coerced her mother into leaving their house, what she could do except leaving her house? After leaving years after years in a house we can’t claim this as our own house. As a girl, I am also thinking deeply, where is my house? We are born at our father’s house, then we have to go to our husband’s house, and at last we pass our adulthoods in our sons’ house. During this long journey of life, we don’t have a permanent residence. If our parents or husbands leave us, we can’t say anything. Girls, have you ever thought where your house is?  How helpless we are in this world!

Mothers’ Hearts

In the chapter “Magpies,” mothers’ hearts are stated clearly. Being a girl, especially a Chinese girl, An-mei’s mother learnt how “to desire nothing, to swallow other’s misery, to eat [her] own bitterness” (241). Indeed, it was only her daughter, An-mei, who realized her miserable life until the day she agreed to go with her to Tientsin. She made her choice to keep all secrets at the bottom of her heart, where no one could touch. She exchanged her sorrow with others’ happiness. She was ridiculed, sworn, and coerced to go out of home because she had tainted her family’s reputation, yet she did not disclose the reason why she became a concubine. Her tears were changed into magpies, birds of joy and laughers of her innocent children. At first, An-mei seemed to be lured because of Wu Tsing’s affluence; in fact, she took for granted that her mother lived a comfortable and happy life. However, it was her mother who died due to the so-called happiness and comfort. Her mother held so much sorrow and depression that her stomach explored one day, and she reached to Death to escape from her miserable life. Like her mother, magpies would die one day because of peasants’ anger and sorrow. Another reason for her mother’s death was to bring happy and respectable lives for An-mei’s brother and her. In fact, after her mother’s death, Wu Tsing promised to take care of them and give them important position in his house. What beautiful mother’s heart!

An-mei’s cries after her mother’s death awoke and pulled me to the present while I was being impressed by the story. I reminisced about my childhood, when I used to misunderstand my mother. I disliked her whenever she used power of a mother to coerce me not to cry loudly, not to express my feelings, or not to desire something for myself. I got indignant whenever she complained about something because to me, she had a dreamlike life, so there were no reasons for her sorrow. However, one day when I saw her crying, I understood everything. I learnt that she was suffering from a miserable life. She had never had a nice night because she had to worry about many things: money for rice, clothes, and studies, and my father’s temporary sickness. All burdens of my family were being put on her small shoulders. Moreover, I learnt reasons for her illegitimate complaints and wrinkles on her face. I wanted to apologize to her, but I could not open my mouth. I learnt to “listen and watch” whatever she did or taught. Luckier than An-mei, my mother did not reach to Death, yet she looked much older in comparison with her age. Therefore, I felt deeply remorse for my misunderstanding. Also, from that day I have learnt that mothers’ heart are the most invaluable pearls in the world.