Translating the Past

Amy Tan

Twenty-Six Malignant Gates

The daughter’s parents warn her to "not ride her bicycle around the corner... because [of] all the bad things that can happen to you outside the protection of this house" (Tan 87). The daughter protests, but the mother claims that she doesn't not understand. She rode her bike and "she fell before she even reached the corner" (Tan 87). This parable has become my favorite in the book because it shows that children often rebel by doing the opposite of what they're told to do by their parents, even though the parents are usually right.

Why Not Hsu?

The intensity of the Hsu chapters intrigued me and made me want to learn more. I enjoyed learning how part of the family was somewhat mended by the end of the book. Although there were obstacles, they only made the mother and daughter stronger in the end. Rose's "mother wants [her] to fight the divorce" and stick up for herself instead of standing idly by (Tan 117). The Hsu sections of the book were much more dramatic and action-packed than I expected when reading Joy Luck Club, which was why I appreciated learning about them in class.

Joy Luck Club


Suyuan gave Jing-mei the piano that she failed so miserably to learn how to play. June embarrassed Suyuan, yet she still forgave her by giving Jing-mei the piano as a birthday present. [She] had not played in all those years… [and she] saw the offer as a sign of forgiveness, a tremendous burden removed,” (Tan 143). I was moved by this quote because it shows that a simple gesture can mean a lot to people and can cause them to feel more at peace with a situation.


In Joy Luck Club, author Amy Tan presents the idea that cultural misunderstanding is common in family relationships because there's a difference in beliefs between generations. Jing-mei Woo found it hard to relate to her mother, Suyuan. Suyuan believed that one should stick to his or her culture and constantly use it in everyday life. Jing-mei had a hard time connecting with her mother because Jing-mei "talked to her in English, [and] she answered back in Chinese" (Tan 34). This quote shows how a generation gap can not only lead to misunderstanding, but also a lack of a relationship. Suyuan and Jing-mei never had a good relationship because of how different their beliefs were about culture.