Lost and Found
Feathers From A Thousand Li Away
This was my favorite parable, because it foreshadows the continuity of strength and power lost throughout the book. The swan is a beautiful creature in China, but it is pulled away from a woman in America, leaving her with only a feather to give to her daughter. This parable also gives insight to the hopes and dreams of the mother; to pull away from oppression in China and to raise a strong, American daughter with Chinese values. The mother says in the parable; "'this feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions,'" leaving the reader a glimpse into her true intentions for coming to America (Tan 17).
An-Mei and Rose Hsu
I would also read about this mother-daughter pair, because I believe that it show a new perspective on the life of a person living as a concubine. It would be interesting to hear how An Mei's mother ended up in her position as a concubine and how she learned from it in order to pass on valuable lessons to her daughter. This family shows the harsh reality of coming to the United States as an immigrant as well as the lessons that can be learned and passed on from hardship.
In my opinion, the most powerful quote in The Joy Luck Club is: " but now that I am old, moving every year closer to the end of my life, I also feel closer to the beginning. And I remember everything that happened that day because it has happened many times in my life. The same innocence, trust, and restlessness, the wonder, fear, and loneliness. How I lost myself" (Tan 83). This quote is my favorite, because it is able to encapture the essence of the entire book, the loss of Ying-ying's soul, and her attempt to restore and pass on her story to her daughter.
In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that the true soul of a person is not forfeited through hardship and misfortune, only built upon by the experiences of life. The characters in the book all change throughout their lives, but the message of their stories focuses on the fact that each has a central, unchanging core. This theme is best expressed in the quote by Ying-ying, "I will hold that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter's tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose" (Tan 252). Throughout the book, Ying-ying shares her stories of her childhood and in each, she is a strong-willed girl, deviating from her own mother's expectations. This strength and will power is eclipsed when Ying-ying comes to America, but she tries in her old age to find her younger self and pass on her spirit to Lena.