The Life We Could Never Know

Abbey Govett

Mother Knows Best

Aside from being the most comprehensible, "The Twenty Six Malignant Gates" is my favorite parable in the Joy Luck Club because it the one that I can most easily relate to. This parable describes the repercussions that ensue when one doesn't listen to their mother's advice. In this parable, a mom tells her daughter that she shouldn't ride her bike around the corner, and when the daughter demands to know why, the mother explains that her reasoning is "written in Chinese. You cannot understand it. That is why you must listen to me" (Tang 87). Although I would often like to believe that my mother truly has no idea of what she's talking about in regards to my situations, I usually end up realizing later on that my mom has a far deeper knowledge of my circumstances than I could ever be aware of, and that I should listen to her more often than I do.

One Sided From The Beginning

If I were to read another mother and daughter duo, I would read about Jing-Mei "June" Woo and Suyuan Woo. The mother of this pair, Suyuan Woo, is the founder of the Joy Luck Club, but the reader isn't able to ever fully hear her point of view because she dies before the novel starts. I would appreciate reading from the point of view of June and not only getting a greater insight into the Club, but also learning about how she deals with her internal conflicts of trying to fill her mom's role in the East seat, also known as "where things begin", during the Joy Luck Club. Additionally, the way that this story is told is a contrast to all of the other mother and daughter groups because while all of the other stories alternate between the point of view of the mother and daughter, the reader only hears June's side of the story throughout the entire novel, which would provide an interesting twist in comparison to other chapters.
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It's Never Too Late

"But in the brief instant that I had peered over the barriers I could finally see what was really there: an old woman, a wok for her armor, a knitting needle for her sword, getting a little crabby as she waited patiently for her daughter to invite her in" (Tang 184). I love the idea that in this passage, Waverly is just now realizing her mother's intentions for her. Even though at this point she is grown and has a daughter of her own, Waverly is now starting to understand the reasons behind her mother's occasional under-handed statements and deceptive acts. This passage is a testament to the fact that it is never too late to look for the good within someone's intentions and to invite that person into one's life.
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In the Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that remaining faithful to one's own identity is necessary in order to overcome obstacles, despite the fact that some aspects of identity can change with time. This is exemplified in the Jong chapters, specifically when Lindo Jong is placed into an arranged marriage and forced to become a wife in order to honor her family. As Lindo realizes the strength that can be found from her unalienable identity, she is able to face the harsh reality of her future and she can cope with the idea of spending the rest of her life with a boy that she knows she will never truly love. Lindo comes to this realization just before she walks down the aisle on her wedding day, when she "made a promise to [herself]: [she] would always remember her parents wishes, but she would never forget [herself]" (Tang 58). This sudden realization allows Lindo to feel secure about her future, as she comes to terms with the fact that although people can seemingly decide her fate for her, no one will ever be able to change who she is and who she will grow to become on the inside. Now, Lindo is able to fulfill her parents' wishes for her to be married to the boy she was matched with, and she can be comforted by the fact that her situation can't change who she really is.