The Trials of Change

By: Thomas Emerson

The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates

I enjoyed this parable because it represents the thesis of the Joy Luck Club, which is conflict between generations due to an evolving mind set. I found it especially interesting when the daughter, in an effort to prove her mother wrong, runs away from the stifling rules her household, which represent a tradition she can't understand because it's "written in Chinese." However, the Chinese doesn't represent a simple linguistic barrier, but a cultural one as well; it shows the daughters distance from the cultural heritage of her mother, revealing the seeming unintelligibility of those beliefs to their daughter. This generational gap is at the heart of The Joy Luck Club, and is the reason I find this parable so interesting.

Mother/Daughter Selection

If I were going to read another mother/ daughter story, I would read about the Jong family. I would choose this narrative because, above all, it seems interesting, particularly the account of a wife-to-be attempting to break free of an arranged marriage by blowing out a candle that symbolizes a friendship. Another reason I would pick this story is because, from what I understand, it provides an example of someone challenging tradition, even if it seems hopeless. This is a key idea from the book as a whole, and I believe reading these chapters would help reinforce this concept to me as a reader.

Favorite Quote

“This is how it daughter honors her mother. It is shou so deep it is in your bones. The pain of flesh is nothing. The pain you must forget. Because sometimes that is the only way to remember what is in your bones” (Tan 48). This is my favorite passage from the book because it represents a child understanding and accepting her mother. I can relate to this because I am constantly trying to understand and develop my relationship with my parents. This quote tells me that sometimes I have to forget society and accept my parent for who they are.

Theme Paragraph

In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that independence is fundamental to developing self-identity even if it challenges traditional beliefs. This can be seen in the evolving relationships between An-Mei Hsu and her family. In the begin of the book, An-Mei is told that her mother is “a ghost” and she is “forbidden to talk about” her (Tan 42). An-Mei, however, challenges this established custom when, while in the corner of her room, she feels “unlucky that [her mother] had left” her (Tan 44). This confrontation against her grandmother’s ideals signifies An-Mei developing her own perspective and, ultimately, identity. This is proven later in the book when An-Mei’s mother returns and An-Mei, completely independent of anyone else’s principles, choses to forgive her mother, moving beyond what she had been told to do by others and embracing her freedom as an independent individual.