The Mahjong Table

Michael Tran

Writing Prompt 1

My favorite parable was the "American Translation". It is a sweet story about a mother visiting her daughter's new condominium. However, the mother superstitiously believes that a mirror at the foot of the bed will cause "all [her] marriage happiness [to] bounce back and turn the other way" (Tan 147). So, her mother puts another mirror across from it to multiply her "peach blossom luck". I liked this story because, having raised in a Chinese household, my mother could be quite superstitious sometimes in that way also and I felt that I could relate to this parable as well having experienced similar situations. I also liked how when the daughter asks her mother "'what is peach-blossom luck?'" her mother replies "'it is in here,' she said, pointing to the mirror.'Look inside. Tell me, am I not right? In this mirror is my future grandchild, already sitting on my lap next spring" (Tan 147)
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Writing prompt 2

If I were to read about another mother-daughter pair, it would be the Woos. The Woos are the main family behind starting the Joy Luck Club, where the families come together to play mahjong, eat, and share stories so it would be interesting to read more of this mother-daughter pair. Suyuan, the mother, also has a rough past, with the hardships she faced in China, that would be interesting to read more about.
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Writing Prompt 3

“The turtle said, ‘I have eaten your tears, and this is why I know your misery. But I must warn you. If you cry, your life will always be sad.’ Then the turtle opened his beak and out poured five, six, seven pearly eggs. The eggs broke open and from them emerged seven . . . magpies, birds of joy. These birds bent their beaks to the pond and began to drink greedily. And when I reached out my hand to capture one, they all rose up, beat their black wings in my face, and flew up into the air, laughing. 'Now you see,' said the turtle, drifting back into the pond, 'why it is useless to cry. Your tears do not wash away your sorrows. They feed someone else's joy. And that is why you must learn to swallow your own tears'” (Tan 217). Although long, this quote really stood out to me in how the magpies represented happiness and the turtle representing other people, in that whenever you cry, you are not washing away your own sadness but feeding another person's happiness. The turtle eats the girl's tears and when she tries to grab a magpie they fly away and laugh at her. The lesson here is that in life you must learn to remain strong and swallow your own tears.
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Theme Paragraph

In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan presents the idea that love can cause sacrifices to be made no matter the cost. Many of the mothers and daughters in the story make great sacrifices for their loved ones. When Popo falls ill, An-mei's mother slices off a piece of her own flesh to use in an ancient traditional soup recipe and as she "cut a piece of meat from her arm, tears poured from her face and blood spilled to the floor. [Anmei's] mother took her flesh and put it in the soup. She cooked magic in the ancient tradition to try to cure her mother this one last time . . . this is how a daughter honors her mother" (Tan 48). To An-mei's mother, the physical pain can be ignored. What matters more is the fact that no sacrifice is too great when love is threatened. Likewise, Suyuan, Jing-mei's mother, was unable to afford piano lessons for her daughter, so "she [talked] to Mr. Chong, who lived on the first floor of [their] apartment building. Mr. Chong was a retired piano teacher and [Jing-Mei's mother] traded housecleaning services for weekly lessons and a piano for [Jing-Mei] to practice on every day, two hours a day, from four to six" (Tan 136). At the time, Jing-Mei resents her mother’s desire to turn her into some sort of child prodigy and refuses to practice. As an adult, however, she appreciates her mother’s attempts to push her to be her best. These acts of sacrifice exhibit the powerful love between each mother-daughter pair and show that giving up anything for a loved one is a true sign of love.

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