The Distance Between Us

Rachel Rogers

Heading East

They have issues, the east seat at the mah-jong table, and an ending that wraps up nicely. If I had to read another mother-daughter group, I would read about the Woo family because their mother-daughter dynamic contrasts the family that I read, the Jongs. In the Jong stories, Lindo, the mother, struggles to understand her daughter, while Jing-Mei struggles to understand her mother, Suyuan, even after her death. This would be interesting to read because I could better understand both sides of the relationships, and be able to better understand generational misunderstandings.

Listen to Your Mother

The parable, The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates, is about what happens when one does not listen to their mother. When the daughter asks the mother to prove her reasoning, she tells the daughter that "'it is written in Chinese. You cannot understand it. That is why you must listen to me'" (Tan 87). I can relate to this parable because sometimes my mother does not allow me to do something, even though I am unable to see any potential harm. When the daughter goes against her mother, she ends up getting hurt. Even when I do not understand her reasoning, it is better to obey my mother than to possibly wind up hurting myself.

I Just Want What's Best for You

In the Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that miscommunications can be overcome, despite the pain that ensues. This idea is exemplified in the Jong chapters, as Waverly fears that her mother will not like Rich, her fiancé. Due to her mother's tendency to pick apart her life, Waverly worries that she will do the same to Rich and cause her to not love him anymore. "I'd never known love so pure, and I was afraid that it would become sullied by my mother... my mother was doing it again, making me see black where I once saw white" (Tan 176, 181). When Waverly finally musters up the courage to tell her mom that she is marrying Rich, she realizes that her mom has just wanted the best for her all along. Even though there was unnecessary stress and conflict between the mother-daughter pair, their miscommunications were eventually overcome.

Intangible Gifts

Ying-Ying St. Clair loves her daughter, although she is unable to fully express this due to her withdrawing into herself. She ponders, saying "how can I leave the world without leaving her my spirit? So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look... the pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hold that pain in my hand... and give her my spirit, because this is the way a mother loves her daughter" (Tan 252). This quote is poignant to me because of my own relationship with my mother. I don't know everything about her, but I do know that she loves me deeply. The things that cause her pain are not things she lets divide us. My mom cares about me so much that she will put my needs before her own. Because of that, this quote sticks out to me.