A Living Ghost
By: Bradford Jordan
The moral of the parable "Twenty Six Malignant Gates" resonates the most with me because listening to your elders is something every person knows they should (but most of the time don't) do. The parable is about a young girl who doesn't adhere to the advice her mom has given her about "all the bad things that can happen to [her] outside the protection of [their] house"(Tan 87). Because she doesn't listen to her mom, she ends up getting hurt proving that one should always listen to their elders. The message of this parable really relates to my life as a teenager because it's not always easy to take your parents advice.
If I were to read another mother and daughter pair, I would read the Hsu family. From the summary I received about this families part of the book, it seems like the most intriguing story out of all of them. One aspect that really interested me is the chapter about An-mei cutting out a piece of her arm to put into a soup. By reading this mother and daughter pair, I would hope to gain more knowledge as to why An-mei would do something like that and to understand the, what seems to be, complicated family relationships.
One of the most significant quotes in the novel The Joy Luck Club is when Ying-ying is staying in Lena's house and a table in her room falls over. "'Fallen down,' she says simply. She doesn't apologize. 'It doesn't matter,' I say, and I start to pick up the broken glass shards. 'I knew it would happen.' 'Then why you don't stop it?' asks my mother"(Tan 165). This quote is meaningful to me because it represents that in life we know so many things will happen, yet we don't do anything to prevent them. Also, this quote is one of my favorites because it totally contradicts what Lena said a few chapters ago about how she wants to know "the worst possible thing that can happen to you, to know how you can avoid it"(Tan 103).
In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that identity is rooted in a person's culture and therefore cannot be dictated by someone else's experience. Ying-ying struggles to assimilate to American culture, unlike her daughter who is a first generation American, which creates distance within their relationship. The reader sees this when Ying-ying is offended that her daughter, in direct contradiction to Chinese tradition, gives her mother the smallest bedroom to stay in. Although Ying-ying is upset by Lena's actions, Lena remains oblivious of her offense because of their cultural differences. Their different identities, based on their cultures, cause them to become ghosts both "unseen and not seeing, unheard and not hearing, unknown by others" (Tan 67). This passage demonstrates the theme that identity is rooted in a person's culture because there is an obvious difference between Lena and Ying-ying's perspectives. These obvious differences makes their relationship very difficult because they are unable to understand each other.