The "Chi" to Life

Madison McBride 2nd

My Favorite Parable

American Translation

In the parable American Translation, the mother-daughter dynamic illustrates not only the everyday conflicts that mothers and daughters fight about, but also the cultural differences that result from not only the generational gap but also the need to assimilate. When her mother tells her "[she] cannot put mirrors at the foot of the bed," the daughter's irritation increases because "she had heard these warnings all her life," thus demonstrating the power struggle that all mothers and daughters face (Tan 147). While the daughter views the placement of the mirror as a superstition, the mother sees it as "peach-blossom luck," which further demonstrates the cultural disconnect between generations (Tan 147). The title itself is indicative of the overall theme of the daughters need to assimilate and the parents need to hold onto the past.

Jing-Mei Woo and Suyuan Woo

Jing-Mei and Suyuan Woo

With the death of her mother, Jing-Mei is forced to take over the Joy Luck Club, which forces Jing-mei to question whether she is worthy of taking her mother’s place, both physically and figuratively, at the table. Her internal struggle mirrors that of Lena as she grapples with living up to her mother’s expectations. Both mothers wish that their daughters would let their “tiger spirit loose” and understand that they are the “something pure, essential, [and of] the best quality” (Tan 252, 281).


My Favorite Quotation

Ying-Ying's willingness to be vulnerable towards Lena by telling her story and how the two sides of her Tiger spirit, "The gold side leaps with its fierce heart. The black side stands still with cunning, hiding its gold between trees, seeing and not being seen, waiting patiently for things to come," proves the bigger theme of how "a mother loves her daughter" (Tan 248, 252). This quote illustrates not only the struggle that all women face in life, but more specifically, the fact that in marriage women are often called to sacrifice themselves, and only by embracing their Tiger spirit can they be empowered.



In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that when an individual lacks the ability to advocate for oneself it negatively impact’s their identity.

When Lena’s mother comes to visit, she fears her mother will “see only [the] bad things that affect [her] family” because she hasn’t told her otherwise (Tan 149). Rather than proactively fixing her marriage, Lena chooses to focus on outside factors like her mother, the budgeting, and her job because it’s easier than admitting the role she has played by her lack of communication and her inability to advocate for herself. Lena “knew it would happen,” but because she did nothing to stop it, she loses a part of herself. However, Ying-Ying realizes she “raised a daughter…from another shore,” which caused the “American ways” to negatively impact Lena, so Ying-Ying recognizes she must restore her daughter’s identity by telling her story, which not only gives her back her voice, but “cuts [Lena’s] tiger spirit loose” (Tan 251, 252). Through their mother-daughter dynamic, Tan demonstrates the need to advocate for oneself in order to maintain one’s identity.