The Red Candle

After reading The Red Candle, I came to draw a conclusion that most of the traditional believes have no significant role in our life. These are only the assumptions of people. It is clear from this story. Lindo changed her marriage life through the use of the traditional belief that marriage will break in the future if the candle of marriage blows out before it fully turned into ash. She herself had blown the candle. She also used the Chinese tradition of respect for their ancestor. She used the name of Tyun yu’s grandfather for breaking of her marriage by saying that it was his grandfather’s wish to break the marriage and there was no adverse effect on her for the misuse of her traditional value.
The Chinese traditional belief about the marriage remembered me about my traditional belief about marriage and the one of the unforgettable memory of my life. According to my tradition, girls have to attend three marriages throughout the life- with Bel, a type of fruit; sun and a real person. We believe that the first and second marriages with Bel and sun determine our real marriage life and we should handle that fruit carefully. I had also performed the ritual of marrying Bel. I was so small maybe about 4 years and I was not known what I was doing. I was playing with Bel and unfortunately the tip of the Bel was broken, I was badly scolded and was told that because of that I will lose my husband in early age. I had cried for a long time and suddenly my mother asked me if I knew the meaning of husband. Though I was not known about the meaning of husband, there was certain pain in my heart. Finally, my mother said me that it was just a ritual and I was quite. Though I was quite, there was something that was hurting me. But my second marriage was greatly successful with bright sun. There is belief that if the sun glows brightly in the day of marriage, it is taken as luck for the real marriage. I was really confused which of the traditional value of the marriages was to believe.
Now, I can say that these traditional believe were only created to establish a society and had no magical effects in our life.

Joy Luck Club

In “The Red Candle” Lindo Jong says that no one showed up in her first wedding due to the Japanese invasion in her country. This quote did not influence me much as I had not experienced this kind of problems in my life before. It was just a normal part of the story as others were.

However, here is how I felt the next day after reading that. I read this chapter at night and went to bed immediately. I saw an extremely horrible dream that night. It was all about the invasion of Japanese in Sri Lanka.

The whole village, including my relations and parents but excluding me, were supposed to leave our own houses and go elsewhere. Japanese especially wanted me for them; they wanted my blood. They came home by home and strictly told everyone to vacate the area as soon as possible-without even delaying a minute. I felt that I am lost to my parents and they are lost to me; both of us are no more going to meet each other hereafter. The Japanese did not allow me to talk my final words to my parents. They fiercely told that they will have to take my parents also with them if they delay any more. Furthermore, they told that my parents also will have to be killed after if they continue staying there. Hence, I begged my parents to leave the place immediately, and to migrate somewhere else and live peacefully. Tears were rolling from my parents’ eyes like water falling from the top of the mountain. I told them to forget me as there were two more children to them to be taken care of: my younger brother and younger sister. I asked them to get out of the place soon. However, they did not dare to leave me alone with them and go.

Since the Japanese intention was totally on me, they pulled me and put me into their vehicle. I could even bit my parents a farewell. During the journey, they asked me to obey all of their orders; if not they will kill me within a couple of days. They told me that I won’t be supplied with any sort of materials to live: at least food! They told me the horribe things  about what I am going to face there.

When I got up that morning, I was so frightened and felt like wanting to talk to my parents immediately. Even though this was just a dream, it depicted how the situation would be when the aliens try to invade your area.

Response to “The Red Candle”

“The Red Candle”- the third chapter of the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, is a heart-touching life story of a girl named Lindo Jong. Lindo was a victim of those evil superstitions that existed in the Chinese societies about 100 years ago. Though it sounds ridiculous, it was her destiny that she was betrothed to a boy at the age of two only. Then she had to go her in law’s house at the age of 12 where she was treated as the servant girls, and was coerced to do household chores by her mother in law. Moreover, her sufferings were increased when she realized that she was married to a gay who had no interest in girls. Lindo wanted to escape from her in law’s house, but she had her parents’ promise to keep. At last another superstition helped her to get rid of that unhappy condition.

When I was reading “The Red Candle” I was simultaneously reminiscing about Shabanu’s life- the main character of the novel SHABANU: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples. Shabanu was an 11 years old girl of Cholistan desert in Pakistan who was also betrothed to a boy from her childhood. Shabanu also sacrificed her life for her family’s happiness by getting married to Rahim Sahib who was of the same age of her father, and who had had already three wives.

Let’s look at the Bangladeshi societies. It was my grandmother who was married to my grandfather at the age of nine even when her monthly period had not started. She used to sleep with her mother in law until her menstrual cycle begun. Now here is the question, “What’s the cause to marry off a girl at such a tender age?”  At that time, it was a custom to send the girls to their in law’s house before they get mental and physical maturity. They believed that a matured girl would not obey her in laws. They used to send a girl to her in law’s house at a tender age so that her mother in law could teach her every household chores and social manners according to their own society. At that little age, a girl couldn’t understand what is right or wrong, so she used to lead a life in a way her in laws taught her.

In conclusion, we can say that destroying a girl’s life through early marriage is not only a Chinese custom; it was existed and still existing for decades in every society wherever it is in China, Pakistan or Bangladesh. It is the common phenomenon of gender inequality all over the world whenever it is in the past or now. However, I appreciate Lindo for her clever trick to escape from her in law’s house. She was the fortunate one- I have to say, but everyday thousands of girls are still sacrificing their lives to uphold their parents’ honor.

Similarities to my tradition

After I read the chapter, “The Red Candle” in the novel The Joy Luck Club, one thing immediately struck my mind was the gender discrimination which strongly prevailed in the 1930’s Chinese tradition. According to the story, Chinese women are given a very low status and position; they are treated ruthlessly. Hence, I thought to compare the Chinese tradition with that of my Nepali tradition and analyze if that is true in my culture too.

Lindo Jong, one of the narrators of the story, was only two years old when her marriage was arranged with a boy who was one year younger than her. Since then, she became a burden for her family and had to face a lot of reprimands from her mother. Even after her marriage, she had to do all household chores and endeavor to make her in-laws happy. Moreover, she was coerced to become pregnant soon and give birth to a descendent to the family.

In addition, I was astonished to learn about the red candle ritual during the marriage of a Chinese couple. A candle is lit at both of its ends in the name of the bride and groom. Then, it is kept burning for the whole night until it has burned completely. This tradition seems to be surprising because if the candle is burned successfully, then the marriage is considered to be long-lasting. As a result, particularly women are not allowed to remarry even if their husband dies. Hence, this tradition indirectly promotes gender disparity. If the women get married to another husband, then they end up becoming a concubine, a mistress whose life is full of hatred and humiliation. However, the man is free to marry as many times as he wishes and have concubines for his satisfaction and needs. This fact really made me indignant about the custom. If men are allowed to keep concubines, then why are women not allowed to have men as their concubines?

Now, talking about my tradition, it has some similarities with the Chinese tradition. In the rural parts of Nepal, women are still considered to be commodities. They are married in their early age and are confined to do tedious household work. They are supposed to comply with their husband’s decisions and are harassed by their in-laws if they are late to conceive. Furthermore, in most communities, polygamy is quite common. Men are allowed to have as many wives as they desire. However, a widow-marriage is highly discouraged. A widow has to face abasement and embarrassment in society if she marries again. Nevertheless, these old beliefs are being eradicated with the passage of time and people are becoming more concerned in eliminating gender discrimination.

These were some similarities which I found between the two traditions. Is it similar in your cases too?

Lindo Jong-her reasion and passion

Which one you choose: reason or passion?

“And let it [your soul] direct your passion with reason” is one of the morals in the poem On Reason and Passion written by Khalil Gibran. As soon as I finish it, the image of Lindo Jong, a character of the novel The Joy Luck Club, came to my mind. I think she is a very good example for what Gibran mentioned. Indeed, Lindo sacrificed herself to keep her family’s reputation. Although she didn’t have any attachment with the boy she was going to marry, she still accepted her destiny. After she came to her husband’s house, she learned to be a good wife and a pious daughter-in-law. She was always careful with her behaviors to avoid her family’s disrepute. Even when she tended to escape, she also thought about her parents. I can tell you this is her reason. First, she just followed the engagement because she was so young that she only knew to obey her parents. As she was old enough to clarify her reason and passion, they were like a competition between two sides of her soul. She wanted to get out of the house; on the other hand, she couldn’t break her parents’ promise. As the poet compared, she was “held at the standstill in mid-sea.” Since both of these elements of her soul were considered to be equally valuable, she wasn’t able to underestimate one and heighten the other. Therefore, she endeavored to find out a good solution to fulfill them. Then, as long as the time elapsed, she let her reason to control herself from the selfish decision. She, and only she, would become a “matchmaker” by and for herself. As you knew, she won. Not only could she initiate her new life, but also her family’s disgrace was sustained. A victory perfectly demonstrated the advice of Gibran.

Have you ever experienced such a difficult situation that you cannot make your decision? Did you comply with others’ arrangements, or did you prefer your desires to your beloved people’s benefits? According to the poem, you should consider both the elements of your soul as your “loved guests in your house;” you should balance them. Neither ridiculously pursuing your wishes to lessen your assessment nor insisted your reason to give up your desire is not satisfactory. Let’s learn from Lindo Jong: “let it direct your passion with reason.”

Thu Nguyen

Response to The Red Candle

When I read “The Red Candle” by Amy Tan, at first I was at a fix at the idea of betrothal at the age of two. I read that paragraph twice to make that clear. Again, I have to consider that the story is written in the plot of a period approximately 100 years ago. Early marriage is also a common phenomenon in Bangladesh, or should I say “was” a common phenomenon, but I have never heard of getting betrothed in such an age. Isn’t it too much? Childhood is the most wonderful period of a human being. How can parents think about their marriage when it’s time to play for the child? One thing also teased my mind that, after getting betrothed, family starts to treat with the daughter like she is not their daughter at all, she is a property which belongs to other. In my opinion, a girl is at first a daughter to her parents. Later she becomes a wife, a daughter-in-law, a mother and so on.

Moreover, in the story we see that Lindo can memorize those moments when she was two and her mother-in-law came to see her along with the matchmaker. Is it really possible to memorize anything from that age? And how did she understand the identity of the two ladies? This seemed to me a bit superficial.

The rural people of my country are much superstitious. I think they were more superstitious in the past than now. While reading the story, I found out that Chinese people were much more naïve and superstitious than us. Lindo’s mother-in-law was easily fooled by her lie about the dream of ancestors, and that drove the lady to take the major decision of letting Lindo go and marrying off her son with a servant! In addition, the ritual of burning candle was also a superstition.  Again, I also accept that every culture and community has their own rituals and superstition which I respect as well.

In the end, I would like to say that I liked the character of Lindo a lot! She is not superstitious like others and she is committed to her parents. She kept the promise that she would be an obedient wife no matter how hard it was to be. She did everything to make her in-laws happy. At last, she took a clever step to get rid of all those toils and lead life in her way.