Closing the Gap

by Maddie Fagan


The parable that I enjoyed the most was Feathers From a Thousand Li Away. The parable is a good introduction to the book, as it speaks of hope for a new life which is a theme seen throughout the book. In Feathers, a woman comes to America in search of a fresh start; however, her shining American dream is shattered by the harsh reality of the difficulties of immigration when "the immigration officials puled her swan away from her... and then she had to fill out so many forms she forgot why she had come and what she left behind" (Tan 17). She is faced with the reality that nothing is perfect, and despite her dreams of a perfect new life, she has to overcome many obstacles. This parable resonated with me because it illustrates a major theme of the book, which is that despite the promise of the American dream there are many hardships to be had.

Mother Daughter Pair

If I were to read another mother daughter pair's story, I would choose Lindo and Waverly Jong. I think they are both fierce, dynamic characters, as Lindo proves in The Red Candle and Waverly demonstrates in Rules of the Game. Lindo is intelligent and fearless, which she shows throughout the book and particularly when she manipulates her husband's family into letting her go free without tarnishing her family's honor. Waverly inherited this sharpness, and I find her career as a renowned chess player very interesting. Together I think their relationship would be very intriguing and it's a story that I would want to read and gain insight to.


The most poignant quote in the book to me was in the chapter The Joy Luck Club, from Jing-Mei Woo's perspective. When the 'aunties' tell Jing-Mei she must tell her long lost sisters about her mother, she says she didn't really know her mother, to which the aunties respond in indignation. Jing-Mei thinks to herself, "And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America...They see daughters who will bear grandchildren without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation" (Tan 41). This is significant to me because it illustrates a major conflict in all of the mother daughter relationships, an issue that can't be solved unless both sides are willing to acknowledge it and resolve it. This quote shows the way that the mothers and daughters are unwilling to put in the effort to understand each other, creating gaps in their relationship. I also love this quote because of Jing-Mei's perceptiveness at the aunties disapproval, and the way she understands that the aunties fear their own children rather than her.

Theme Paragraph

In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that sacrifice is necessary to show love for one's family and oneself even though it can present obstacles. For example, Ying-Ying St. Clair must sacrifice her honor in order to get a fresh start and move on from the betrayal of her husband, and by doing this, she provides a new life for herself despite the challenges she faces to move on. She meets her new husband, and if she had never taken the risk of leaving what she knew behind, she never would have had her daughter Lena or her new life in America. Ying-Ying said of her time mourning, "I floated like a dead leaf on the water until I drifted out of my mother-in-law's house... If you ask me what I did during these long years, I can only say I waited between the trees" (Tan 249).This shows how Ying-Ying sacrificed her stubbornness and all of the things that made her who she was to bide her time and get back on her feet. This may not have been a sacrifice she made consciously for herself and her daughter, but this nonetheless gave them the better life in America they could only have dreamed of in China. Another example of sacrifice for a better life is An-Mei's mother cutting her own flesh in a last desperate attempt to cure Popo. Despite Popo's shunning of An-Mei's mother's choices, the mother still makes the sacrifice of a physical wound despite the risk that Popo would be more repulsed than grateful should she survive. An-Mei recalls the event, saying "[m]y mother took her flesh and put it in the soup. She cooked magic in the ancient tradition to try and cure her mother this one last time...Even though I was young, I could see the pain of the flesh and the worth of the pain" (Tan 48). This relates back to the theme of sacrifice because even though Popo was mean to An-Mei's mother, she did everything she could to show Popo her love one last time through her sacrifice.