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The Conflict Between The Mothers, Their Chinese Tradition, And Language And The Daughters

Throughout the book, the conflict between the mothers, their Chinese tradition, and language and the daughters, their American tradition, and language are evident. Suyuan and Jing-Mei Woo are mother and daughter, respectively, who are characters that illustrate the conflict between the two cultures. In the beginning of the story, the mothers who play Mahjong tell Jing-Mei to see her long lost sisters and tell them of their mother. Jing-Mei replies, “What will I say? What can I tell them about my mother? I don’t know anything. She was my mother. 31)”

Then it occurs to Jing-Mei that “they are frightened” because in her they see “their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. (p31)” In these quotes, Jing-Mei perceives the gap that occurs between the mothers and daughters. This gap between each mother and daughter is described in later chapters. Jing-Mei Woo, who is called June in America, represents her mother’s hopes and dreams. Her mother’s name, Suyuan, meaning, “long cherished wish” speaks of this hope for Jing-Mei, whose name means “the pure younger sister (p322-3)”.

In the beginning, June is excited and dreams of what she will become. “In all my imaginings, I was filled with a sense that I would soon become perfect. My mother and father would adore me. I would be beyond reproach. I would never feel the need to sulk for anything (p. 143). ” Her mother pushes June into many areas- academics, dance, and the piano. After failing to excel at any of the areas presented to her, she feels like a failure. She sees all the hopes her mother has for June as expectations.

The final conflict comes when June performs a piano piece filled with mistakes at a talent show, which makes June believe that her mother is completely ashamed and disappointed with her. June looked through the crowd to her mother’s face. She thought to herself, “… my mother’s expression was what devastated me: a quiet, blank look that said she had lost everything. ” (p. 143) What June did not realize, was that the real reason why her mother was upset was not because she had not lived up to her expectations. She was unhappy because June did not care about having the best for herself.

She did not have high hopes or a passion to be successful at anything. She failed because she did not try and she did not care. This is in strong opposition to Suyuan’s high hopes that originate from the strong love she has for her daughter. It is not until much later in her life, after Suyuan’s death that June realizes just how much her mother loved her and how proud she was of her. After Suyuan’s death, and after June learns more of the details about her mother’s past, June’s eyes open to the good intentions her mother always had for her in all of the ways that she acted.

She realizes that her mother was proud of her even though she was not a great genius at anything. After Waverly humiliated June at the dinner table by stating that the work she had done for her firm was not good enough, Suyuan attempted to display her pride in June by giving her the jade pendent she always wore, which symbolized her life’s importance. She wanted June to know that her life had value and that she just needed to develop and use her talents in order to discover this. After her mother’s death, June begins wearing this necklace every day.

She also thinks back to her job and decides, “I was very good at what I did, succeeding at something small like that. ” (p. 233) Because June does not make many of these discoveries until after her mother’s death, she fears that she did not appreciate her enough during g her life: Right after my mother died, I asked myself a lot of things, things that couldn’t be answered, to force myself to grieve more. It seemed as if I wanted to sustain my grief, to assure myself I had cared deeply enough.

But now I ask the question s mostly because I want to know the answers. ” (p. 0) Suyuan loved her daughter more than her own life, but June did not realize this until her questions were answered and she began to understand her mother’s intentions in life, and where her hopes originated. The relationship between June and her mother, Suyuan, is far from flawless, yet has the foundation of love that can never be destroyed. Amy Tan uses this relationship and all of its complications to teach the readers important themes about life. Ultimately, love between this mother and daughter prevails through all conflict, and even beyond Suyuan’s death, when her ‘long-cherished wish’ of uniting her daughters is fulfilled.

Also exemplifying the conflict between the cultures of mother and daughter and the misunderstanding that occurs is Waverly Jong and her mother Lindo Jong. As a child Waverly inherits her mothers “invisible strength. ” Using her invisible strength, she becomes a success at chess. Like the little girl in the parable, Waverly Jong attempts to defy her mother. She clashes with Lindo because she misunderstands her mother’s pride in her achievements. Waverly wants chess to be strictly her own achievement, part of her own separate identity.

When her mother hovers over her during her practice sessions, she feels invaded, as though her mother is somehow taking credit for what Waverly sees as her own personal strength. Moreover, her mother’s bragging and desire to show her off embarrasses Waverly. In Waverly’s next story, “Four Directions,” she continues the story of her chess playing and relates that she eventually realized that her mother’s pride actually functioned as an invisible support. Moreover, Lena St. Clair and Ying-Ying St. Clair demonstrate the conflict between mother and daughter and the misunderstandings that led to the conflict.

You throw stones in and they sink into the darkness and dissolve. Her eyes looking back do not reflect anything. I think this to myself Even though I love my daughter. She and I have shared the same body. There is a part of her mind that is part of mine. But when she was born, she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since. All her life, I have watched her as though from another shore. And now I must tell her everything about my past.

It is the only way to penetrate her skin and pull her to where she can be saved. 274)” Ying-Ying believes that she and her daughter share the same body but Lena had sprung away to a distant shore. When Lena is supposed to mirror Ying-Ying, Ying-Ying sees Lena’s eyes as a bottomless pond. Both women are similar in that both are passive but this trait does not unite them but pulls them apart. Since childhood, Ying-Ying had been passive, resigning herself to fate. Her first marriage came about because she believed that she was meant to marry him, not from love. A while after the man leaves her, Ying-Ying meets Clifford St. Clair.

Once again she is resigns herself to fate believing that Clifford embodied a message that meant “the black side of her} would soon go away. ” Ying-Ying passively watches Lena grow up as if they stand on separate shores. Nonetheless, she has realized that her inaction has been a bad example for her daughter. Lena, who is also passive in her marriage with Ted Jordan, is in shambles after learning that Ted has divorced her and planned to marry another. Ying-Ying resolves to share the story of her past mistakes with Lena so that Lena would gain strength from it and not be passive.

Furthermore, all the children feel the duality of their Chinese heritage and their American heritage. While the daughters in the novel are genetically Chinese (except for Lena who is half Chinese) and have been raised in mostly Chinese households, they also identify with and feel at home in modern American culture. Waverly, Rose, and Lena all have white boyfriends or husbands, and they regard many of their mothers’ customs and tastes as old-fashioned. Most of them have spent their childhoods trying to escape their Chinese identities: Lena would walk around the house with her eyes opened as far as possible so as to make them look European.

Jing-Mei denied during adolescence that she had any internal Chinese aspects, insisting that her Chinese identity was limited only to her external features. Lindo meditates that Waverly would have clapped her hands for joy during her teen years if her mother had told her that she did not look Chinese. The Joy Luck Club is now one of the best books I have read. Both the book and the movie of The Joy Luck Club were good. Since I first watched the Joy Luck Club on the television, the book was more enjoyable since both were similar. But the movie version added on and cut out parts of the book.

For example, the movie cut out the part of Bing Hsu and his death. They also cut out the fact that Clifford St. Clair put words in Lena St. Clair’s mouth and had changed her name and year. Also, the movie showed the uniting of the Ted Jordan and Rose Hsu after Rose stood up to Ted Jordan. The differences between American and Chinese cultures and the difficulties between the two were similar to the difficulties that I led in my life since I was born in America while my brother, father, and mother were born in Vietnam. Also, the difficulties that the mothers faced were similar to my own mother’s difficulties.

Even the fact that there was a gap between my parents and me since I did not share their experiences and lived in better conditions is evident in the book. It was touching reading this story since there are others who share the same experience that I have had. What was also interesting was the fact that the traits of the mothers concerning their daughters were similar to my mother’s own. When I started becoming known for winning tournaments such as spelling bees, I felt that my mom was creating expectations for me that I had to live up to while it was only aspirations that she had for me.

Also, the mothers were strict in relationships between the daughters and other boys. Moreover, the mothers usually used stories to communicate their wants for their daughters and warnings. My mother does so using old parables and Vietnamese sayings. Reading this book has made me both happy and sad since I know of others who share my experience although I don’t know the full story of my own mothers. Now, one of my hopes is to write a similar book retelling my mothers difficulties and the hopes and dreams my mothers brought to America.

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