The Joy Luck Club is a story about four Chinese friends and their daughters. It tells the story of the mother’s struggles in China and their acceptance in America, and the daughter’s struggles of finding themselves as Chinese-Americans. The movie starts off with a story about a swan feather, and how it was brought over with only good intentions. Then the movie goes on, the setting is at a party for June the daughter of Suyuan. Suyuan has just past away about four months ago, and her mother’s friends have found her long lost daughters.
But it is too late for her to go see them so they tell June about it and they arrange a meeting for her in China. This is a going away party for June’s trip to China. At the party June realizes that she was expected to take the place of her mother at the mahjong table. June sat at the East where it all starts “The Joy Luck Club”. The Joy Luck club was a weekly meeting of the best friends, were they talked about their hopes for their daughters and their stories of the past. The swan feather in the beginning was a symbol of all the hopes and dreams that the mother wanted to give to her daughter.
This woman crossing a vast ocean, with only the company of a swan, yet she is not scared. She has dreams for her daughter, and this dream is the driving force of her actions. She is moved to realize this dream, that she is not even aware of the potential bad outcomes. There is no talk about hoping to have a daughter it says I will have a daughter just like me, and she will always be to full to swallow any sorrow. There is no single thought of failure in her mind. Her dreams have instilled in her blind faith, and inherent optimism. She will go as far as that she lets these qualities take her.
The swan feather is a symbol of Chinese culture, in that it was brought from China with only good intentions. It was not a symbol for failure but for hope. The swan grew up to me more than what was hoped for it was too beautiful to eat. But when it was taken away, the only thing that was left was a feather a symbol of something that was meant to be nothing but became more. It was a symbol for the mothers it was what they wanted there children to become more then what they where in China. This symbol was learned through the stories that the mothers have told to their daughters.
It was learned through the hard ship that the mothers have experienced in there past in China, the past that haunted them to America. In the story of June and her mother Suyuan, in the kitchen. June stands out strongly, because of her mother’s intention in giving her the pendant is unclear, it spurs her to the question that the gift was given in the context of their discussion of quality, and may show in specific way her mother was valuing her, not just for being her daughter, but because she was finally, best at something. This was the night that Suyuan recognized her daughter is different, but Best Quality.
Suyuan wanted the best for her daughter. Suyuan knew that her daughter was the best but never really said it to her. June always thought that she wasn’t enough for her mother that she never measured up to her expectations. And everything that her mother hoped for that she couldn’t meet, she was a disappointment. Her mother noticed that she had all the qualities that she hoped for in a daughter, she told this to her daughter when she noticed that she always took the worst crab so that the best crab was served to the guest. June had the best heart.
This was something that Suyuan wanted to give to her daughter. June now realizes this, and she realizes that she has met her mother’s hopes. The pendant is her mother’s recognition that, if nothing else, June is true to her own nature, is the best. June finds herself performing the same kitchen-rituals that her mother did, June truly begins to understand and honor her. June takes on her mother’s spirit as she sits down at the East in the Joy Luck Club. You can also see this when she arrives in China to greet her sisters, with the swan feather at hand.
Another symbol in the Joy Luck Club happens between Ying- Ying and Lena. It starts out by telling the story of Ying- Ying’s past in China and how she recognizes the indirect way that her mother instilled in her a fear of unforeseen and disastrous consequences of her actions. The balance sheet on the refrigerator is the sign that makes it possible for Ying-Ying to redeem herself to her daughter. To show her daughter what a marriage is suppose to be made out of. The economic metaphor illustrates how poor her marriage is in the balance that really matters.
Like the table that Harold built, the marriage is showy without being functional. Ying-Ying demonstrates to her daughter that surface balance is useless and that Lena’s conception of herself and Harold being equal is flawed. When the table falls it illustrates the breaking of the marriage, and the freeing of the spirit of the mother. This spirit gives Lena the strength to decide what she wants out of the marriage. You find out in the movie that she had left Harold and is going out with a young Chinese man that respects and loves Lena and her mother Ying-Ying.
The way that Lindo grew up in China reflects the way that she is in America. Lindo was sold to a matchmaker when she was in China, she was told by her mother how to act or how to be an obedient wife in her new family. Lindo realized that this is not the kind of life that she wanted and she gets a rail ticket to Shanghai. Waverly on the other hand was grew up in America where the American customs have influenced her way of thinking. Waverly wanted to please her mother and she even married a Chinese Man. But still this didn’t please her.
When Waverly divorced him she thought that her mother blamed her. Waverly was scared to introduce her fiance to her mother, because she thought that her mother wouldn’t approver of her decision. The conflict between the two shows the conflict between the Chinese Culture and the American Culture and how it collides together. Lindo thinks that Waverly is ashamed to be her daughter. She thinks this because of the way that Waverly acts and communicated to her mother. When Lindo tells Waverly about her mother and her memories. Lindo finally tells her that she only wants the best for her.
Waverly tells Lindo that she has so much power over her, and that anything that she does never pleases her. And from this moment it seems like the two cultures have found a common ground, so that both mother and daughter are happy. In all the stories all the mothers want is the best and happiness for their daughters. Sex and Marriage is also apparent in the story of Ying- Ying. In China Ying- Ying was married to a bad man who was what she dreamed for, but ended up to be very bad. Ying- Ying had realized that her husband was happiest when he was cruel. But it is hard to get out of a marriage especially when there is a son involved.
She knew that if she killed him that she would loose something that she loved her son. He had taken away her innocence and so she took from him the only thing that she could she took from him, his son. When she lost her son her spirit was lost also. This haunted her all the way to America, and so when she had a daughter in America she had no spirit cause she had none to give to her. The way that Ying-Ying grew up in China is different than the way that Lena grows up in America. But since Ying-Ying brought Lena up not knowing her worth she didn’t know how to choose the right husband for her.
She didn’t know her value. In China marriage is based upon the husband and in America the marriage is based upon both. The struggle between the two cultures and the acceptance of mother and daughter are also present in the movie. By looking at the different stories of mother and daughter one could see the differences in the culture and the gap that they had to overcome. The ugly duckling that came from afar and grew into more than what it was supposed to be, a beautiful swan. But taken away and only the feather and the memories of what it was. A beautiful swan, that proved everyone wrong.