The American Contrast

Wills Rutherford

Writing Prompt #1

My favorite parable is "The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates" because it demonstrates that even though you may think you are right it is important to listen to others, especially those who are knowledgeable and have more experience, before deciding on your actions. In the parable, the mother tries to help protect her daughter by saying "Do not ride your bicycle around the corner" (Tan 87). However, when the daughter is not satisfied with her mother's advice, the daughter screams "You don't know anything," quickly ran to her bicycle, and "fell before she even reached the corner" (87). I enjoyed this lesson as it provides an important life lesson that can be easily connected to America's youth-oriented culture, and its lack of respect for the wisdom of the older generation.

Writing Prompt #2

I would read the section about Jong as I feel that it is more closely linked to American
culture and would give good insight into the lives of an assimilated Chinese family. Waverly seems to be quite similar to "normal" Americans, however her mother still holds onto her dreams of raising a culturally Chinese, yet still American daughter. The contrast between who Waverly is and what she believes compared to her traditional mother would be interesting to see in order to compare the variations between Chinese and American societies. Additionally, I think it would be really interesting to read about Waverly's difficulties and challenges, as well as how she deals with them, as her mother tries to use Waverly's talents to improve her own life.

Writing Prompt #3

"'You want to take your daughter and ruin her life as well!' Uncle stamped his foot at this impertinent thought. 'You should already be gone.' My mother did not say anything. She remained bent on the ground, her back as rounded as the turtle in the pond. she was crying with her mouth closed" (Tan 218). This quote was significant and moving to me as it shows the hatred towards An-mei's mother over something she had little control over. An-mei's mother was tricked into marrying Wu Tsing as she was told it would improve her life, however that was not the case as she became a concubine. Her family refused to accept An-mei's mother because of her failed attempt of marrying a wealthy husband to improve her social standing. I found this very moving as it illustrated how no one stood up for An-mei's mother during uncle's rampage even though she came back to visit her family to help Popo recover. Additionally, it illustrated the male dominated society in China and how women had very few choices when it came to improving the standings of their lives. It was very saddening that although she returned to her family to help, she was not welcomed due to the negative outcome of a decision that she was ticked into making.

Theme Paragraph

In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that identity allows one to develop personal beliefs and character although it may contradict traditional ideals. In Rose’s marriage with Ted, Ted made all of the decisions for the couple and Rose, who was described by her mother as “without wood” because of her lack of the strength to make her own decisions, simply agreed with them (Tan 191). However, after a failed surgery, Rose was forced to stand tall “like a young tree,” and make her own decisions (191). This new sense of identity that she discovered within herself allowed her to develop into a strong woman who is not afraid of fighting for what she believes in, such as keeping possession of her house. She also challenged the idea that Ted was the leader of the household by refusing to sign into the divorce that gave Ted a larger share. Additionally, after seeing her mother base her identity on whom she married, An-mei realizes that she does not want to have a similar fate. Witnessing how her mother lacked happiness even though she lived on a wondrous estate with many materialistic things taught An-mei to pursue a life that she enjoys even if it is against what women normally did at the time. By challenging traditional ideals, An-mei moved to America, started an American family and learned how to avoid living “her life like a dream” (Tan 240). Using the knowledge from her mother, she followed her personal identity, allowing her to become the individual she truly is.