Four Paths Intertwined
"The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates"
Waverly Jong and Lindo Jong
In the Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the cruciality of developing one's personal identity as a hallmark on the path to adulthood, despite authoritative pressure to remain dependent. Jing-Mei Woo, daughter of Suyuan Woo, struggles in her adolescence to reach the goals her mother presents to her. Tan provides a glimpse into this struggle when, as a child, Jing-Mei is forced to take up piano by her mother. Despite her discontent and disdain towards piano, Jing-Mei keeps taking lessons because ever since she was born she has sought to be "a prodigy", hoping that one day "My mother and father would adore me. I would be beyond reproach. I would never feel the need to sulk for anything" (Tan 133). Yet, Jing-Mei eventually learns that her choice in life should reflect her well being and that she should not have to be an "obedient daughter" if it comes at the cost of her happiness (Tan 142). Later on in adulthood, she reflects this independence when she "has half a degree in biology, then half a degree in art, and then finishing neither" (Tan 31). This illustrates that, despite her mother's urgings to return to college, Jing-Mei refuses to do so because she no longer makes her decisions based on her mother's desires and instead follows her own mind. Additionally, Waverly Jong exemplifies this theme when she replies, "I'm my own person" when her mother requests her to finish her coffee. In response, her mother thinks "How can she be her own person? When did I give her up?" (Tan 254). Suyuan and Lindo both do not wish to lose control over their daughters, yet eventually both daughters detatch from the authority of their mothers as they develop their own mindsets and embark on their own lives.