Opposites Attract

Lauren Stone

Thematic Paragraph

In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that differences between generations as well as differences in cultures are important to recognize and learn from. In every mother-daughter pair generational differences mixed with cultural ones are very evident. Jing-Mei Woo, being born in America, has a hard time connecting with her Chinese mother because of their differences. When Jing-Mei's mother, Suyuan Woo, tries to talk to her daughter speaking Chinese, or explain something about Chinese heritage, Jing-Mei feels "[She] can never remember things [she] didn't understand in the first place" (Tan 19). Later on, Jing-Mei realizes that though sometimes she could not understand her mother when she was still alive, she can learn things from her past and how she took care of her. Working through generational and cultural barriers can be rough, but there is always something to learn from someone with a different background than oneself.


The parable that spoke to me the most is the Queen Mother Of The Western Skies due to the way it illustrates innocence. A lot of times innocence is portrayed as immaturity and something that needs to be shed or covered up. Though the grandmother in this parable has taught her daughter to rid herself of her innocence along with her hope the way she did, the innocence of her granddaughter has taught her otherwise and made her think twice about her perspective on life. The grandmother is not so naive to think that she has more to offer than the baby, instead she willingly accepts that her granddaughter needs to be the one to teach her daughter "how to loose your innocence but not your hope. How to laugh forever" (Tan 213).

Other Mother-Daughter Pair

If I were to read a different section from Woo, I would read Jong because the strong independence of both Lindo and Waverly fascinates me. Lindo was arranged to marry Tyan-yu at the age of two and actually married him at age sixteen. Knowing that in this marriage she wasn't going to be happy and would have to spend her life being an obedient wife with no voice, she eventually left him and became independent. Somewhat similar but also opposite to her mother, Waverly constantly fights with her mother on everything telling her to not "be so old fashioned" when she's giving her advice because "[she's her] own person" (Tan 254). They are both fiercely independent and won't let people get in the way of what they want.


When Suyuan Woo is revealing to her daughter how the Joy Luck Club came to be, she explains that everyone involved "all had [their] miseries. But to despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable" (Tan 24). This quote explains why during the first Joy Luck Club meeting's they all pretended nothing was wrong when there was really a war going on right outside. It illustrates that it is important not to dwell on the past in order to move forward in your life. There is no use in despairing over something that just causes pain when there is nothing one can do to fix it.