By Rachel Wasserman
Alternate Mother-Daughter Duo
"And I knew that was not true. I knew my mother made up anything to warn me, to help me avoid some unknown danger. My mother saw danger in everything..." (Tan 105).
In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that trying to forcibly change one’s culture is accompanied by many hardships within the family. While Ying-ying St.Clair works in a store in Shanghai, she meets her future husband, Clifford St. Clair. Clifford brings Ying-ying with him back to America with the intention of marrying her. She is immediately faced with adversity as she is forced to assimilate to the new, American culture. As a result of the language barrier between Clifford and Ying-ying, they experience difficulties communicating, which ultimately hinders the growth of their relationship. In an attempt to make their relationship succeed, Clifford St. Clair “insisted [Ying-ying] learn English”, so, she “spoke in moods and gestures, looks and silences, and sometimes a combination of English punctuated by hesitations and Chinese frustration” (Tan 106). As Ying-ying and Clifford St. Clair’s relationship develops, it becomes evident that the difference in language and culture proves to be negatively impacting. Clifford’s attempt to force Ying-ying into assimilating to his ways ultimately leads to not only the decline in their relationship, but also Ying-ying losing her true identity.