Unspoken Words

These two dialogues are dedicated to the two characters of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. The characters are Waverly Jong and her mother Lindo Jong.

Waverly Jong:

“Ma! Why did not you try to realize my feelings at my childhood? I did not want your extravagant show-off which made me feeling embarrassed. I did not want that because it made me to fill up with anger. Do you want to know why? Because it meant to me that you did not accept my power of playing chess. I know once I was a prodigy as I played chess so easily because of my confidence. But it is you! Yes, you who shattered my power of confidence. I wanted you to tell me something after my bad behavior to you on Stockton Street in front of people. But you said nothing, nothing which I expected. I expected it because I wanted to play chess, because I wanted to take my revenge to you perfectly, because I wanted you to behave with me normally. But you did not do this. If you realized my feelings, then I would not have to give up playing chess, my most favorite game where I won, not you.”

Lindo Jong:

“Meimei, I knew what was your feeling. But I wanted to teach you a lesson. As a mother, I had to teach you something which could make you to realize a fact ‘nothing is easy’. You wanted me not to show-off. You wanted me not to interfere in your game. I did not do this. But then what was happened? You wanted to take revenge, but it reflected on you. You had to give up playing chess, not me. Were you happy then? You wanted not to abide by my words…but you were off from your right track. A mother always wants well-being of her child. If you realized my thought, then you would not have to suffer a lot…” ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Maybe they wanted to tell these to each other, but they could not because their cultures were different, Waverly got used to live in American culture, and her mother had her Chinese origin. Though they were mother and daughter and shared the same blood, the language of their blood relationship became changed which made a gap between them. Thus, they were never able to communicate properly as they wanted because they made translations to understand each other, but the matter was that they could not; in translation, there was something missing which weakened their communicating bond. What is your opinion? Was that their fate?

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.

Differences

Difference between a mother and a daughter exist, but why? Is it because of the way they were bought up? Or is it because both the mother and the daughter refuse to listen to each other. Now many differences may be present between a mother and daughter. I think it is because of the time and the place as well. In the book The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, one of the characters Lena St. Clair is all westernized and her mother is very traditional in the chapter titled “Rice Husband.” Lena St. Clair’s mother Ying-ying St. Clair was bought up in China traditionally with beliefs and norms. However, she had raised her daughter in America and her daughter has grown up to be “one of them.” Lena does not see things the way her mother views them. For example, Lena’s mother, Ying-ying, can see things before they happen, bad things. Such as Ying-ying had predicted that her unborn baby would fall out dead, and it did. She had known that her husband would die, and he did. Lena, on the other hand had never seen this kind of things (161-62). I have a friend whose mother is also very traditionally and religiously bound, where as my friend is not so much into it. She would rather go watch a movie instead of helping her mother. She would complain to me about her mother in school. She would say her mother had made strict rules about going out and studying. She said she hated that her mother interfered with her life. She had also said that her mother criticized about whatever she did. She would go on and on. Just like Lena and her mother, whatever Lena did, like going on extreme diet; her mother notices it and knows her daughter very well. Lena’s mother even knows about Lena and Harold (Lena’s husband)’s argument and dispute eve if Lena does not utter a word about it. Lena’s mother instead of trying to intervene, she does not say anything. However, in the end of the chapter Lena’s mother asks her indirectly why she is not trying to stop it (181). We can see that her mother had already known about the disagreement Lena and her husband was having. My friend’s mother, just like Lena’s mother notices everything but does not really pushes her to do things. She watches her and studies her daughter. However, my friend is very mistaken about her own mother. I think it was just because my friend does not understand her mother. If they spend time or talk to each other, they might be able to overcome those differences and the space between them.

I missed my parents when I read “Rice Husband” Written by Amy Tan

“Rice Husband” is one of the chapters from The Joy Luck Club written by Amy Tan. It is written in first person’s point of view; we see the story or understand the story through Lena St. Clair’s, the main protagonist, eyes. It mainly tells us about her married life and her mother’s ability to predict or see the things related to her family before they happen. Clair felt in love got married to a very frugal person, Hagord, who always kept account of money he spend on buying things that they shared. She thought she would have a happy married life with him. However, she got fed up with the way they account for everything in their life and quarreled with her husband. Meanwhile she realizes her mother’s prediction; her mother warned that she will get a bad future husband by looking at her rice bowl, which was left unclean. Since her mother’s prediction about many things such as knowing beforehand that her husband, Clair’s father, would die or knowing ahead of time that she will give birth to a lifeless baby came true, she becomes wary about her married life.

I tried to connect some of the paragraphs that talks about her married life with my parent’s married lives and I found out that they have similar stories. My parents never keep their money together, just like Clair’s and her husband did. In fact, my father’s character is quite similar to Clair’s husband, Harold’s, character. My father doesn’t like to take money freely from any one. He always believes that borrowing and lending money ruins a good relationship. This was the same case with Harold. Also, my mother’s character seems similar with Clair’s character. Clair helped her husband to become a good chief architect by sharing her ideas and strategies with him; similarly, my mother helps my father to make a good conclusion. My father always seeks my mother’s help to make good decisions.

Although some of clair’s and Horald’s character match with my parents’ character. My parents never quarrel over minor things. My father is a very frugal person and he sometimes make a list of goods he had bought, just like Clair and Harold did, and tell we children about it. He then shouts, “I will never buy anything for you all now, I’ve spend enough. Tell your mom to buy your goods.” However we infer that he is going to buy more goods for us because that is what he always does after reprimanding us.

After relating Clair’s and Harold’s character and my parent’s character, I made a deduction that, within a couple, keeping account for everything has more advantages than disadvantages. For example, if we have different account, we can be independent; we will be wary about how much we earn and how much we spend. Moreover, we will be freed from problems like sometimes a wife annoys her husband when he fails to give full salary in her hand by querying many questions.

.

Sexism in The Joy Luck Club

As I read The Joy Luck Club, I found that sexism and gender discrimination is one of the major motifs of this novel. As far as I read this novel, it becomes clearer that both Chinese and American culture have sexism, though they are two different cultures. Maybe this is true in all prevailing cultures because a novel is a reflection of entire society where we live in.

As a reader of this novel, I encountered various events where ‘sexism’ and ‘gender discrimination’ were focused. In the chapter ‘Scar’, An-Mei Hsu’s mother was hated by her mother for playing the role of a concubine. It is for that she refused to lead her life as widow. Thus, her family treated her so harshly as if she did a bad thing which undermined her family’s recognition. Even if An-Mei Hsu was forbidden to talk about her mother. An-Mei’s mother tolerated such a humiliation only because of her wish to lead a life without memorizing her past-husband’s memory. She wanted to live her own self, and maybe it made her as a ‘bad’ woman to her family.

In the chapter “The Red Candle”, Lindo Jong was forced to act like a ‘perfect wife’. Before that, when she was chosen for Tyan-yu, her mother treated her as if she was not her daughter anymore. It is because her marriage was fixed, so that she was not the part of her mother’s family. After her marriage, she was treated as a servant in her in-law’s house. All these indicate that what the real condition of a woman is in Chinese life-style.

According to the chapter “The Moon Lady”, Ying-Ying was so restless in her nature in childhood. However, her mother forbade her not to be so restless which was not the nature of a ‘girl’ in her opinion. For example, when Ying-Ying chased a dragonfly, her mother told her that ‘A boy can run and chase dragonflies, because that is his nature.’ She also said that ‘But a girl should stand still.’ Her thought and conception regarding the distinctive natures of a girl and a boy reflected in her sayings.

In the chapter “Rules of the Game”, Waverly Jong was hindered by some old men when she wanted to play chess with them. It seemed awkward to them to play chess with a little girl. It was an example of gender discrimination.

Abovementioned examples from The Joy Luck Club show that a girl is only bounded for listening others, but not her own. A girl is treated far different from a boy. Author intends to show how it affects on the behavior of a girl in her childhood.

Response to ‘Two Kinds’

In the chapter ‘Two Kinds’, the clash between Jing-Mei and her mother exposed the fact that pressurizing someone to do something that he or she did not love could not bring his or her success what was expected. Suyuan, Jing-Mei’s mother’s opinion was that everyone could be a prodigy. Jing-Mei was forced to do various things as her mother’s expectation towards her that she could be a prodigy. Her mother was motivated by watching programs and reading stories about young prodigies and used to tell about these to Jing-Mei to attract her attention towards that view she could be like them if she practiced. Jing-Mei was compared with other young talented girls, especially with Waverly, daughter of one of her mother’s friends who was a ‘Chess-champion’. However, Jing-Mei refused to try to become a prodigy because she was tired of being that, and wanted to be what really she was.

In my life, I also faced same type situation once. After passing the higher secondary examination, my mother expressed her expectation towards me that she wanted me to be a doctor. However, I did not want to be a doctor, I wanted to get admitted in a public university. Despite my wish, I studied for medical admission, but I could not concentrate in my study because it did not come from my mind. I tried to concentrate, but I could not. I know I could not be a good doctor because I had no intention to choose this field for my higher education. My mother tried to convince me by telling the stories of respected doctors, and how they reached in that position. She told me if I kept trying to get admitted in a medical college, then I could be achieved this position in the society like them. I just wanted to tell my mother that it was not a good expectation of her to me because I did not like me to be a doctor. However, my mother’s expectation towards me unintentionally forced me to study for medical admission, but I know I could not get chance because I had no aspiration for that. It just did not strike my mind. Consequently, my suspicion came true. My name was not in the list of selected students for medical college. I could remember how my mother’s expectation towards me just broke down. I saw the change in her face; it was expressed that she was frustrated. I expected her to say something rude, or harsh towards me, but she was just shut down.

When I read this chapter, I found similarity between Jing-Mei and me. We could not fulfill our mother’s expectation towards us. The fact was that Jing-Mei’s story is fictional, but my story was real.

My response on “Two Kinds”

In the chapter “Two Kinds” of The Joy Luck Club, Jing-Mei’s mother always believed that her daughter was born a child prodigy. She made a lot of effort to make her daughter more talented than the other children. It’s because she wanted to compare her daughter among the other talented children of her friends. On the other hand, Jing-Mei was confused about her abilities. She wasn’t able to find if she was born talented or not. She had to do those things which she wasn’t interested in because of the force of her mother. Therefore, she learned piano only for her mother. As she didn’t show interest in the piano course, she didn’t even know that the two pieces of music that she had been learning for a long time were from the same song. It was due to the lack of her attention. If she had worked hard, she might not have felt embarrassed in front of the audience. However, it was beyond her interest, so she didn’t care what others would think when she would not be able to perform well in the concert.
When I read that chapter, I began to think about parents who always compare their children with that of the others. They don’t try to know what their children’s hidden qualities are and what their interests lie in. It is obvious that parents would want their children to become more talented than others, but the interests of parents do not coincide with that of their children’s due to the generation gap. Sometimes, it also depends on the attitude of the child, whether he wants to be judged by his parents or not. I have seen some people who dream to fulfill their parents’ wish. These types of people are supported by their parents in every part of their lives. On the other hand, I have also seen some people like Jing-Mei, who are not supported by their parents. For example, one of my friends is very good at playing guitar but very poor in his studies. He wanted to graduate in Music but unfortunately his parents, who think that he will have no future in Music, didn’t support him. As a result, he gave up his studies and now is abandoned by his parents.

In conclusion, it’s always better if there is understanding between the children and the parents. Parents must first think about their children’s interests and capabilities without coercing them into those things which are beyond their interests. In the same way, children should also try their best to make their parents understand their problems.

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.

My Mother and Theirs

                 Reading the two chapters “Half and Half” and “Two Kinds” of The Joy Luck Club, I remembered my mother, who deeply trusted in our God. She used to teach me a lot of things about Him and His life. She believed that our God prepared everything for us. When our life passed smoothly, she said it was our rewards to believe in Him, like the mothers in the stories. However, she still believed in Him, even stronger, as there were some obstacles in her life. She explained that these were challenges He had made up to verify our loyalty. If we were able to overcome with our consistent faith, we would be bestowed greater gifts. I think Rose Hsu’s mother is similar to my mother because after Rose Hsu’s brother was lost, she still believed one day she can find him out, even though she never expressed it. Jing Mei’s mother and mine (and all of the mothers all the world), I think, always expect their children to have a good life. Nevertheless, their inclinations to teach their children are seemingly different. Both of them ask us to do the best as we can, but while her mother wants her to become what she expects, my mother will let me make decisions by myself. Though I like the way my mother teaches me, I don’t underestimate Jing Mei’s mother’s teaching. She is the one who understands her daughter clearly. She knows her daughter’s ability to play the piano that Jing Mei herself finds out later. Unfortunately, Jing Mei can’t realize this sooner, before her mother’s death. Throughout the two stories, the daughters often go against their mothers’ desires. Rose Hsu still gets married and decides to divorce without her mother’s permission, and Jing Mei refuses to play the piano in spite of her mother’s wish. Both of them never try their best to do anything like their mother said. They just selfishly think about themselves.

                 I felt myself so happy that I and my mother understand each other well. We know each other’s thought and belief. Our faith in our god is same. Not like Jing Mei and Rose Hsu, I know my mother always wants good things for me, and I appreciate that. We, of course, still have some disagreement, but we respect each other and together, find out the best way to fix our problems. 

Thu

Ying-ying

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.