American Children, Chinese Ways
By: Marian Rozyczko
In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that traditional values help define an individual even though it might seem socially unpopular or culturally different from the values one knows. Throughout the book, the daughters of the Joy Luck Club members and the members themselves, encounter many situations where they feel lost or confused, but through their Chinese values and traditions they find a way back to who they were or who they want to be. Jing-mei experiences this after the loss of her mother and taking her place at the Joy Luck Club. She always felt more American than Chinese due to growing up in San Francisco, but after her mother's death, her obligation to meet her half-sisters causes her to learn more about her mother and embrace her Chinese heritage. As she is "sitting at [her] mother's place at the mah jong table" she is more accepting to this more traditional gathering due to her circumstances (Tan 41). Taking her mother's place is a huge step toward her embracing her heritage even though the Joy Luck Club and it's meaning are still unfamiliar to her. This action shows how embracing these traditional values is difficult for her since she is accustomed to American culture and traditions.
"The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates"
The parable that interested me the most would have to be The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates. This parable teaches how one should listen to someone who is more experienced in life rather than ignore what they have to say. It also shows how one should respect the more experienced or they would not get far in life. The little girl rebels against her mother, due to her mother warning her what happens if she leaves without her mother seeing her. The little girl leaves and "[falls] before she even reached the corner" proving what her mother said to be true (87).
If I had to read another mother-daughter pair in the book, it would have to be the St. Clair pair. I am empathetic towards people who have struggled through a lot since I have gone through a lot with my family and friends. Reading about pain and struggle helps me understand a character more and makes me feel as if I'm actually becoming friends with them. Also without the feeling of hurt we, as humans, could never feel joy and the more hurt one feels, the more they can feel the essence of joy.
"'So we decided to hold parties and pretend each week had become the new year. Each week we could forget past wrongs done to us. We weren't allowed to think a bad thought. We feasted, we laughed, we played games, lost and won, we told the best stories. And each week, we could hope to be lucky. That hope was our only joy'" (25). This quote really expresses the idea of forgetting the past and moving on with life which is an ideal I try to live by. A lot happens in the past, and sometimes it creates who we are, but what we choose in the future helps who we become in life. This quote helps give hope to those who feel there is nothing to live for anymore and to give reassurance to those who have made mistakes in life to keep moving forward.