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.

“If the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold”

In the chapter “Rice Husband” in The Joy Luck by Any Tan, Lena’s mother says, “If the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold.” Lena conceives the meaning as “One thing is always the result of another.”Lena believes that Arnold’s died because of the uneaten rice left in her bowl. Once her mother told her that she would marry a bad man and her future husband would have pock marks on his face in accordance to the amount of rice Lena had left uneaten in her bowl. As a result, she felt responsible for causing death of Arnold whom she believed was her destined husband.

From my point of view, I feel that Lena’s mom is right because everything that we do in our lives, either success or failure, is always the result of our own actions and behaviors. For instance, when I was in 12th grade, my parents advised me to study well to fulfill their expectations by being able to qualify for an engineering college. However, I didn’t study well and couldn’t perform well in my BHSEC exams. As a consequence, I didn’t qualify for the engineering college, instead I qualified for Chemistry and Math honors in another university. I regretted for I failed to fulfill my parent’s expectation and most importantly, I couldn’t accomplish my ambition. Thus, it is tangible that my failure was the result of my indifference and not having worked hard.

The other thing is that I applied for the admission in AUW since I wasn’t interested to in doing chemistry honors. I worked hard to pass through the interviews and exams in order to qualify for admission in AUW.  Finally, I got selected in AUW, which I considered to be a great opportunity for me. After joining AUW, I got to learn a lot which I haven’t heard while I was back in my country. Also, I gained a great deal of skills in reading, writing and listening skills. Moreover, I got the chance to meet and get acquainted with students from different cultures and religions. Therefore, I would say that this is the result of the hard work that I put in order to get admitted in AUW.

Life is what you make out of it, so be wise in making decision or making choice as every decision has direct influence on your life. As Lena’s mother said, “If the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold.”

Isn’t Hate Merely the Result of Wounded Love?

 While reading the chapter “Rice husband” from Lena St. Clair’s point of view in the novel, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, I found myself re-reading the sentence, “Isn’t hate merely the result of wounded love?” This is the sentence that coerced me to think about human relationship with their family, friends, and other humans. I was unconsciously relating this sentence with daily life.

Love is the foundation of life. We love those who befriend us. We start to care about and understand them. We go deeper into our relationship and there is very little gap among us. However, with the passage of time, we get acquainted with their goodness and flaws. It is after we have started to love them, the sense of hatred arouses within us. Their tiny flaw infuriates us and we feel like we do not want them any longer in our life, and their presence does not make any difference in our life. This human nature in the tranquility of love and hate governs us with emotional challenges.

In order to hate someone, you need to get hurt by them. To get hurt, you should have emotional bonding with them so that they would be able to pinch your heart knowingly or unknowingly. For all these, you need to have affection with them. In other words, you should love them. We can take the example of Lena’s hatred towards Harold, her husband. He is the one who she had once desperately fallen for and loved so passionately. In contrast, now she has hatred because she is hurt by him.

Sometimes hatred becomes the way to express love. This may sound weird but it is the fact that if you are in love with someone and you can’t find out the way to express it, you start to bother them and try to grab their attention. For instance, can see the vivid picture of Arnold showing his hatred for Lena for he couldn’t express his love towards her. On the other hand, Lena too hates Arnold. Unknowingly she has already fallen for Arnold and she puts her full effort of showing hatred towards him.

So, if you hate someone, it means you love them and you hate because you are hurt. Moreover, if someone shows hatred towards you, don’t get furious for they care for you.

My mother and Lena’s mother

     The chapter “Rice Husband” in the novel The Joy Luck Club written by Amy Tan tells the story about Lena’s ignorance in her mother’s prediction of the future. In the story, her mother believes that “one thing is the result of another thing.” She has some superstitious beliefs which is Lena does not accept, but her life is somehow influenced by it. Lena’s mother used to say that if she did not eat properly or if she throws her food, she will get a bad husband.  From her eating habit she predicts her future. The main conflict in the story is that Lena does not understand the real meaning of what her mother says. She often misinterprets it and takes incorrect decision.

     While reading the story, I remembered my own mother’s warnings. Like Lena’s mother my mother also used to say such things.  For instance, when I threw food, she used to warn me that one day I would starve for the same amount of food what I had thrown. Similarly, when I did not clean my room and did not make my bed, she used to tell me that it was the symbol of having a bad husband or bad family in the future. When the clothes were not washed properly, she told me that like the cloth I will not be able to keep my life clean. Furthermore, she used to advise me that if I kept the kitchen clean while cooking, I would have a good and prosperous life. Similarly, in our culture, it is said not to comb our hair at night because if we do so, we will get an old husband. From everything I used to do, my mother used to forecast my future in that.

     Subsequently, she planted the fear of having a bad life in future. As a result, I tried my best to do my every work perfectly.  Due to her predictions, I started to make my bed early in the morning, did my washings properly, and cleaned my room every day. I developed a habit of doing those things regularly. I used to eat even if I did not like the food or even I did not want to eat due to the fear of starving in the future.

      I do not know if her sayings will be true or not, but by her predictions and warnings, I developed a good habit of doing all the stuff s properly for which I am very thankful.

Digya Shrestha

My mom and Lena’s mom

After reading “Rice Husband” written by Amy Tan, I happened to compare my mom with Lena’s mother. The similarities between my mom and Lena’s mom were being flashed. The way her mom in this story encouraged Lena to finish rice, my mom also used to remind me of one of our believes that if we threw rice it would curse us. In my community of Nepal, we people consider food as blessing of god and we even offer small portion of rice to god after harvesting. Without offering food to god at the first, we people don’t eat. Moreover, she would tell me to think of those people who don’t get food to eat and die due to malnutrition. After hearing this all, I could never leave my plate without finishing meal. I really miss those days now because my mom is not with me to say do this, don’t do this.
Another similarity that I found between mother of Lena and my mom was the care they have for their child. Lena mother, though she never showed and finally confessed that she loved Lena, had always been caring for Lena. Being concerned in every matter that Lena did and silently keeping eye on her was something Lena’s mom always did. My mom as well, cares for me a lot. Being tensed in my minor health related problems, staying up whole night when I had a fever is what I will never be able to forget. Every time I remember how much love and care my mom has been showering on me, I can’t prevent myself from respecting and loving her more and more.
Regardless of these similarities, I noticed one main difference between my mother and Lena’s mother. Contrary to my mom, Lena’s mother was always interfering in her personal matters. My mother has always respected my decisions and has been with me in every step. At times, when I was not able to make decisions, my mother always helped me and guided me. On the other hand, though Lena’s mother loved her, she had never given chances to Lena to make decisions on her own. If Lena made any decisions, her mother would always find fault in that and criticize her. Somehow, I feel that Lena’s mother was imposing her decisions on Lena’s life and Lena was coerced to comply with her mother. After reading this story of Lena, I felt myself very lucky that I have a caring, loving and understanding mother who values me and my works. Moreover, I also got disgusted knowing that some mothers are also there in this world who values their own opinions than their daughter’s presence.

Can you change your destiny?

                  Reading the chapter “Rice Husband,” I was impressed by the proverbs: “If the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold,” or “One thing is always the result of another.” Through the story, the proverb seemed to be a shadow following Lena’s entire life. Because of rice left on her bowl, her mother made up the story of her malicious husband. Because of her belief in her mean husband, she hated Arnold. Because of her hatred to him, she killed him in her intention, and she felt remorse of his death. Because of Arnold’s death, Lena “deserved” Harold. Everything seemed to be arranged first, and Lena did not do anything to stop them.  A lot of questions appeared in my mind, while I was reading the chapter, “Rice Husband.” Why did her mother put the vase on the top of the table although she knew it would be broken? Could her mother do anything to stop bad things affected their family, but she refused to do? Did her mother and she believe in fate, so they let bad things happen? Why did not Lena obey her mother’s advice even though she had realized her mother’s power of prediction? Why did not Lena get indignant with her husband because actually she did not know what she wanted after the conflict? Did Lena and her mother have the same power of prediction because at the end of the chapter, Lena told her mother that she knew the table would be broken? To find the answers of above questions, I think that we should compare the chapter with our own lives. We all have seen bad things happening to our beloved people many times, but we have not done anything to stop them. An overt instance appeared in the chapter “Half and Half,” when Rose Hsu only stood to see her brother, Bing reaching to his “destiny”, his death. Another example is that when seeing our mother suffering from assailing of cancer, we also cannot do anything to help her. Also, witnessing our father’s lungs are being eroded by alcohol and drug, we cannot do anything to stop him except talking about dangers of drinking alcohol and smoking. However, how many percentages are we sure that he will listen to our advice? Moreover, what can we do to rescue our friends from the crack of dropping out more than giving them advice and informing their situations to their responsible people? However, if they are so obstinate to be altered, could we coerce them into studying? No, we cannot do anything to stop dangers from our beloved ones. These dangers are their destinies or fate. However, “something is better than nothing,” we can at least help people to be aware of these consequences. Let’s them understand that death is destiny, but we can choose to die beautifully.