Knowing your Mother

How well do you feel connected to your mother? Do you know your mother’s history before you were born? Or before your father met her?

After reading the section, “Queen Mothers of the Western Skies” in the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tam, I started to love mother even more than before. The last section of the novel has indirectly but strongly said that no matter what, mothers always want their children to be good. Many times, we may feel indignant towards our mother like Jing-mei feels for being forced for piano class. We can also see Waverly blaming her mother for her failed marriage. The daughters in the novel have no idea what their mothers’ life had been like before they were born. We can take Lena as the example. She thinks that her mother, as a poor girl, was rescued by her father. She does not know that her mother was born and brought up in a rich family in China, and her father had courted her for four years. On the other hand, Suyuan stands for a mother’s love and hope for her long-lost daughters. Despite of long years of disappointment, she had the hope of finding her lost two daughters in China.

Reading between the lines of the novel, I imagined my mother sitting on a sofa in the sitting room with me on her lap and telling me how her life had been before she was married to my father. It is from that day, five years before, I feel that I am a part of my mother and that she  lives within me. That day, she had given me a part of herself like Ying-Ying thinks of giving Lena her tiger spirit recollecting all her past and pain. My mother did not have a tiger spirit like Ying-Ying to give me, but her childhood memories of being born in a rich family like Ying-Ying. Before my mother gave me her spirit, I too used to listen to others as Waverly, and as a matter of fact, I did hurt her too.

So, after my own experience and the stories of the novel, I can tell that mothers never ever think evil of their children. In fact, childrren should try to communicate to them and know about their history that will make us aware about the ups and downs in life and we can feel more connected to them.

Response to The Joy Luck Club

After finishing the novel, The Joy Luck Club written by Amy Tan, I am really happy with the endings of the mothers’ and daughters’ story and their relationship with each other. As a whole, this novel did not fascinate me, but while reading the last section i.e. “Queen Mother of the Western Skies”, I could not help myself reading it non-stop. A feeling of enthusiasm that was lacking in previous sections suddenly elicited. At first, my view for all the mothers was not that positive which I had after going through the last section. Though the way of loving their daughters is different and a bit strange, truth is that they loved their daughters and sacrificed a lot for their daughters.

Tan has been successful to show the relationship between mothers and daughters, the problems faced by the migrants, values and life style of Chinese culture in an elegant way. Nevertheless, I think, the writer has only focused on the dark side of life— only pain, sacrifices, hardships and conflicts have been shown. In my view, the novel would have been more interesting if the flavors of happiness, achievements, and love have been introduced in greater extent. Many times I couldn’t connect myself to this novel due to the same story line of all the mothers and daughters. I believe no one in this world would have life full of only struggles, conflicts, and tears. Though hardships come time and again, joy, happiness, and achievements are also part of our life which this novel has failed to show in my view. It talks about the success, happiness based on food, competition, and body images. But the happiness that is shared with families, the moments that we cherish forever, and the life without criticism has not been talked about.

As I couldn’t relate this novel to my life completely, the occurrence and events in this novel seemed dramatic to me. The sorrows and conflicts could be related, but I was in search of those sweet and warm feelings which exist in the relationship between mother and daughter. I couldn’t find that feeling except the sacrifices and hidden love – not expressed. All the emotions have been expressed in a complicated way and lingering between past and present make this novel more complicated. Nevertheless, to be honest, I enjoyed reading only the last section because the secrets have been revealed in a very fascinating way.

response to the joy luck club

            Could you imagine of being treated as a foreigner by your own family? The novel The Joy Luck Club leaves many ideas behind to the readers. It talks several aspects relating to America and china, among which the American and the Chinese culture are mainly focused. The cultural and the linguistic changes within a single family can bring dramatic changes among the relationship of own family members. First of all, we know that language is the main source of communication. Therefore, we can see that the language plays a marvelous role in relating both the mothers and the daughters in this novel. Since they talk different languages that cannot be understood by the other; they had great conflicts and misunderstandings among each other – the mothers with daughters and vice versa. If there languages had been the same, then most probably they would have behaved better than how they did. They would have had better interaction among them. The daughters could have understood their mothers well and the mothers could have well explained what they wanted to their daughters. They could have solved their problems without that much disagreement, I suppose. We could imagine how it would be for us if our mothers and we talk different languages without one understand the other. We can feel that we would lose our own cultural values and get adapted to another culture where we would be brought up. On the one hand, we can feel that we will be gradually losing our national and cultural identity. On the other hand, we will be treated as a foreigner by our own people. Sometimes we might feel uncomfortable to accept our own cultural values. So we can imagine the consequences of having different language from our mothers. In the novel, neither mothers wanted to admit their daughters’ American culture nor the daughters wanted to admit their mothers’ traditional Chinese culture. Basically, I suppose this is due to not understanding each other. And that is because of their difference in languages.

See You Later, Ying Ying

                I see my wife and daughter, Ying Ying and Lena, but I cannot communicate with them. More accurately, it is out of my hand. Nobody can see me, and I am not able to touch anyone or anything. Many times, I endeavor to lay my hand on Ying Ying’s shoulder, when she feels sad, but she doesn’t feel my existence.

                Last year, because of a heart attack, I died. I remember the time I came out from my body without noticing that I had already became a ghost. Ying Ying was with me at that time, and this was the first time I had ever seen her cry. Surprisingly, I hugged her, but implausibly, she went through my body. I know the gap between us is so far, more than ever, that we no longer can contact with each other. We are in different world. 

               Since that time, I have always been with her wherever she goes. Today, I am so glad she will visit Lena’s house. I don’t want to see her spend most of her time at home and doing housework. Sometimes, she makes me worried because she spent many hours sitting besides the window. However, when we are in Lena’s house, something terrible happened. She reveals her story in her past. I can’t imagine that she will make me shocked. Until she finishes her story, I still can believe in my ears. Going out of the house, I get irate that she concealed her big secret from me for a long time. I close my eyes and think about a beach. And I am in Hawaii. I come along the shore feeling the wave, wind, and fresh air. Yet I cannot forget about that time. After three days, I choose the best option, forgiveness. Actually, I also have to be blamed because I never asked her to tell me about her life. I have never thought that she experienced a miserable life in her past. Therefore, it must have been hard for her to remind and disclose it.

                When I come back, Lena has already been in our house. She is folding her clothes, and letting them into her suitcase. They are going to take a trip to China, and I know the meaning of this journey. Lena can have time to balance herself and understand Ying Ying more. Besides, Ying Ying can visit her hometown. I am so happy that they are in the same path at last. This journey will be the last one I will have been with them. Then I feel relaxed to leave this world, to rebirth.

                 Ying Ying, if it is possible, I want to be your husband again. Live happy until you meet me. I will wait for you, and I promise to be a good husband to compensate for my faults in this life.

Thu Nguyen

Double Face

The chapter “Double Face” in the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Lindo describes how she looked similar to her mother and how her daughter looks to her. The physical traits that she had shared with her mother and what her daughter shares with her are the same and so are their fortunes. She thinks that her daughter is ashamed of what her appearance look like. So, her daughter is ashamed of her appearance too. But when her daughter says, “We are for one side and also the other. We mean what we say, but our intentions are different (304),” she realizes the wisdom of her daughter and finds out that her daughter is not ashamed of looking like her.

In the story, when Lindo remembers what her mother had said about her appearance, I remembered of my mother too. She also believes our physical traits describe our behavior and fortune. Lindo’s mother had said that she had a good fortune because she had lots of meats at the bottom of her ears. Similarly, my mother also believes that if someone has thick flesh in the bottoms of the ear, his or her future is bright. Furthermore, in our culture also it is believed that the size of our ears shows how long will we live like in Chinese culture. Moreover, if someone has big and wide forehead, he or she will be fortunate. In addition, if the tika, which our elders put in our forehead, stays for a long time, it is believed that the blessings given during that time will come true.  Similarly, the gaps between our fingers while joining them together will determine how much money we will waste and how much we will save.

Furthermore, Lindo can see her reflection in her daughter. In the same way, my grandmother often used to say that I am the reflection of my mother. She used to look like exactly the same as I look now when she was of my age. Not only my grandmother, but also my mother’s friends also used to tell the same thing. At the same time, the person who knew my father used to say that I look like my father. I used to become confused whom I exactly looked like.  Later, when I grew up, I realized that with the traits of my parents I have received their attributes as well.  The traits describe my fortune and I am glad to have it.

Digya Shrestha

The Joy Luck Club

The book, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, contains the stories of relationships between the mothers and daughters. Through this book, we can understand the generation gap and society affect the understanding between the mothers and daughters. Each character of the book has his or her own sorrows. The mothers, who had emigrated from China to America, have trouble understanding their daughters, who were born and brought up in America. The mothers of the stories seem very superstitious, yet they have adapted well in American society and have known their daughters very well.

Now, we have finished reading this book. It really feels great that we have become able to finish another book after Shabanu and The Little Prince. Talking about The Joy Luck Club, it was really fun to read about the relationships between the mothers and their daughters. Being a daughter, I really liked the chapters which talked about the misunderstanding between the mothers and their daughters as they are similar to that of the relationships in real lives. Similarly, through this book we come to understand many historic facts about China as well as the beliefs regarding old Chinese culture.

From the first section of the chapters, we can relate ourselves in the place of the daughters and consider if we are fulfilling our mothers’ dreams or not. Are we able to reach towards their expectations? For me, I had never thought about what my mother’s hope for me was. I had never ever tried to know what she expected from me. For example, Jing-Mei Woo, in the first chapter, “The Joy Luck Club” did not know much about her mother. She never tried to understand her mother and by the time she realized it, it was already too late. Similarly, we learned that the mothers of Jing-Mei and Waverly used to compare them. It can be related with our lives. I reminisce about those days when my mom used to compare me with my cousins. Whenever they got good grades, she used to give me their examples. That time, I always used to wonder why only my mother kept on comparing me with others. There was also a time when my mother used to be proud of me whenever I used to listen to her and do everything she wished me to do.

Besides, relating my childhood with the stories, I also became fascinated by the cultural facts of the Chinese culture mentioned in the book. I never knew about the Red Candle, the Moon Lady, the concubines in China, or the belief regarding seeing things before hand till I read the book. These things have made the book more interesting. However, the name of the characters and the stories regarding mothers’ mothers really confused me. It was complicated to remember whom the chapter was about, mostly while reading the book a night before the quiz.

Take Action

     “Waiting Between the Trees,” the last chapter talking about the characters Ying-ying and Lena in The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Ying-ying tells her stories about the process of her first marriage, how she goes through the hard time after her husband leaves her, and how she gets married to Saint Clair, Lena’s father.

     Born in the year of tiger, Ying-ying has tigers’ qualities, which includes the gold and the black sides. According to her mother, “The gold side leaps with its fierce heart. The black side stands still with cunning” (Tan 282). For Ying-ying, her black side accompanies her for more than ten years after her husband leaves her; she aborts her baby, stays in her cousin’s family, and waits patiently. I was once curious that what she was waiting for. Was it because of the thought that she was “too good for any one man” (281)? Or she had the thought that her husband would come back her side? However, I do have a better understanding about what Ying-ying wants to say at the end of this chapter; she says that she will pass her spirit to her daughter Lena, who is also a tiger, too. She will “gather together “her “past and look,” “hold the pain in the hand until it becomes hard and shiny” (286). I suppose that she realizes that waiting things to come is not enough for a person, and one should take action if she wants to get what she really wants. Therefore, Ying-ying wants to give her spirit, which is her gold side, to Lena, by which she teaches Lena to take action before things becoming late. Also, she doesn’t want to see Lena to do the same thing as what she did – waiting patiently, sticking in a same place, and losing her way to continue her life.

     I’m so surprised that the ending of this chapter is similar to the previous chapter’s, to some extent. In the previous chapter, An-mei’s mother, who is a concubine, doesn’t have any voice in that family but undergoes all the pain by herself. Finally, her mother’s death tells her how important it is to speak out one’s thoughts. Then, here, a similar lesson is being taught – if you want to get what you want, taking action is important and necessary.

     However, sometimes taking action is not an easy thing to do. Perhaps that’s the reason why Ying-ying keeps silent for such a long time. In order to do that, I think we must be brave enough. What’s your opinion?

Suyuan Woo’s Character

From The Joy Luck Club written by Amy Tan, I like Suyan Woo’s Character. Suyan Woo appears to be very determined, optimistic, and strong woman. During the Japanese invasion in China, Woo founded the Joy Luck Club in order to bring hope to be lucky or to bring hope to their joy (10-4). Moreover, she continues the Joy Luck Club in America with another three women.  Although she had fled from China leaving behind her everything, which includes her home, parents, family, friends, husband, and two twin daughters, she started a better life in America. She got married again, she opened Joy Luck club and began to rehabilitate. Although she did not know how to speak English fluently, she did not see America as a strange place where almost all the people speak English. Rather, she defined America as place where people could do many things to make better life (141).

Moreover, she did not forget about China. While leaving her twin daughters in China, she left them on the road with enough money, jewelries, and photos with her information on its back so that she could get find them again (327). After marrying Canning, her second husband, in America, they went back to China on “Tour”. At that time also she looked for her daughters. She wrote many letters from America to her Chinese friends to find her daughters. Even though she heard that streets name in china had been changed, she persevered to write letters. She did not lose hope (328-9). These evidences show how determined and strong she was.

If we were in her case, firstly I guess a great many of us won’t be able to come up with ideas like Joy Luck Club to help Chinese people during the calamities. Secondly, we’d take time to adapt in another big country like America without our friends and beloved ones. It’s nature for most of us to feel apprehensive and get culture shock when we alter our home. Moreover, it’s very hard to be optimistic and face challenges and obstacles for many of us. We either seek our parents’, friends’, teachers’ or elders’ suggestion during tough situations. However, Woo didn’t even share about her twin daughters to her husband.

Therefore, I really appreciate Suyuan Woo’s character. She exemplifies a character of a strong and determined woman.

Joy Luck club

The ability to presume what is going to happen in the family by observing the changes that are occurring around—that was what Lena’s mother, Ying Ying St. Clair, use to do and in most cases she was correct. Whatever she told turned out to come true! And she had once told Lena that she would marry a bad husband. Lena married Harold and for the first few years Lena proved her mother wrong. She loved him and he did too. But later she gets divorced from him—once again what her mother had told came true. Ying Ying did not like the way they lived, particularly the house and its interior designs and also the way they maintained the lists of items that they buy and the cost of every single item. They lived in the same house and were husband and wife but still maintained their own expenses.

The system of maintaining our own expenses seems good to me, in a way. Why to bother others with your own expenditure. You can see it by keeping yourself in their shoe too. How would you feel if you have to pay for someone else’s cost? Would you like to be responsible for other’s everyday expenditure?  You would not want that, you would prefer to pay for yourself and expect others to pay for themselves too. For once or for twice one would help but again and again, no one would like that. Moreover, paying for someone else would make the other, for whom you pay, be dependent on you in future.

But here in Lena’s case it’s between a husband and a wife and I think they should maintain their personal expenses (if they want to) but it looks unfair, or I better say odd that a couple maintaining bills for the things they purchase. But again here there is slight unequal purchase between them. Lena buys all the stuffs that are used by both like kitchen items, eatables like chicken, bread and other groceries but Harold buys the things that mean only to him like garage stuff, car stuff movies, gas and at times dinner. It is good to maintain such notes of expenditure one makes to keep in track how much you earn and how much you have spend. One can also accordingly plan how much to save for the future too.  But to note of those little things such as eating ice-cream and the price for dinner, etc. would create an uneasy atmosphere. It shows that they don’t trust each other and there isn’t a strong bond between them.

What do you think about when you eat meat?

What are your favorite dishes? When you go to cafeteria, which recipes do you look at, non-vegetarian or vegetarian? How do you feel when a plate full of chicken hot pepper or mix meat sandwich is offered to you? By asking such questions, I don’t mean to criticize you or show my altruistic heart. It’s just that I am interested in sharing my opinions and knowing your opinions regarding other living creatures.

When I read “Best Quality,” one of the chapters from The Joy luck Club written by Amy Tan, I was especially distracted or taken away from the story to another topic by the a paragraph that describes how ten alive crabs are put in hot boiling water and made them to struggle for their death. I really felt indignant and wished to put the ruthless Suyuan Woo, one who cooked the crabs, into hot water  and let her feel the pain. It was mentioned that even her daughter, June, couldn’t bear to watch it; she went out of the kitchen when she saw her mother  grabbing the crabs by their backs and letting crabs to flex their legs in midair between sink and the stove (225).

I think we don’t have any rights to assail or kill other living creatures just because we are human beings and we know how to think and talk.  Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, said that all the living beings, starting from tiny ants to huge elephants, living on this earth had once been our parents; therefore, we should pay respect and love them. I strongly endorse it, no matter whether it is true or not.

Some non-vegetarian people said that they eat meat because it has been one of the delicious and special food items everywhere in the world. Moreover, it keeps us healthy as we get lots of nutrients for it. Do you agree with it? Don’t we have any other alternatives? Is it legitimate reason to take away other living being’s life to keep oneself healthy? How animals are considered according to your religion?

Do you eat meat of dead animals? In “Best Quality,” the mother, Suyuan Woo, didn’t eat the meat of a dead crab with a missing leg. One of the reasons why she didn’t eat it was because it tasted bad that even beggar wouldn’t eat it (234). However, according my religion, we can eat meat of dead animals. It is not considered as a sin. How about your opinion?