In the novel, The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, it tells of four Chinese women drawn together in San Francisco to play mah jong, and tell stories of the past. These four women and their families all lived in Chinatown and belong to the First Chinese Baptist Church. They were not necessarily religious, but found they could improve their home China. This is how the woo’s, the Hsu’s, the Jong’s and the St Clair’s met in 1949. The first member of the Joy Luck Club to die was Suyuan Woo. Her daughter, Jing-mei June Woo, is asked to sit in and take her mother’s place at playing mah jong.
Memories of the past are shared by the three women left, An-mei Hsu, Lindo Jong and Ying-ying St Clair. June Woo learns of the real secret her mother carried to her grave from her mother’s friends. The twin baby girls, her half sisters, Suyuan pushed in a Wheelbarrow as she escaped from the Japanese. Due to sickness, Suyuan can no longer carry her babies, and is forced to leave them on the side of the road. She lives her whole life not knowing if they are alive or dead. In the book, the Woo’s left for America to build a better life for themselves.
Suyuan Woo wanted to have a daughter like herself, and no one would look down on her. It was important that she speak perfect English and hopefully not share in the same tragedies and sorrows she had known. The movie brought this concept out very vividly. You were able to imagine the time and place and the emotions of the characters. Their anger in the early years, how women and children were treated as possessions. The book spoke of Rose Hsu Jordan, daughter of An-mei Hsu, who had seven brothers and sisters. A very tragic time in her life when her brother Bing drowns at age 1 while she was in charge of watching him.
The movie does not touch upon this tragic event and brings out the rich family Rose marries into, and the instant rejection from her boyfriends mother. Rose unhappiness in her marriage with Tod, is similar to the unhappiness her mother had throughout her life. Lindo Jong was a special character in the book , referring to promises she made to her mother as a young girl, and keeping them throughout her life. She was actually abandoned by her family and Lindo was sent to live with her future husband’s family. She never complained because she would never dishonor her mother.
The movie did an excellent job of showing us the culture during that time in China and how the matchmaker arranged the marriages at an early age. She is a very smart girl and figures out how she could get out of this marriage and still keep her promise to her mother. She puts the blame on the matchmaker and is released from the marriage. When speaking of strong characters in the book, one would have to include Waverly Jong, daughter of Lindo Jong. She was a bright child who became a famous chess player, which made her mother very proud. The movie brought out her unhappiness in her life and the unhappy relationship with her mother.
The two shared similar lives even though they lived in different countries and different times. Ying-ying St Clair, according to the book, was married at an early age and referred to her husband as a bad man. In fact she tried so hard to forget him she forgets his name. She tells of taking her baby before it was born because of the hate she has for her husband. The movie tells the story a little different in reference to her baby. After her husband comes home with his mistress and causes her shame, she drowns her tiny infant while bathing him. A tragic and emotional part in the movie.
Lena St Clair, daughter of Lindo St Clair, may not have had such a tragic relationship with her husband as did her mother; but she was unable to find happiness in her marriage. The book and movie were similar in showing us the relationship she had with Harold. They were business partners also, but he made more money than she. They shared everything right down the middle and kept a running journal. They also decided not to have children which goes along with their relationship. In the final conclusion, the twin baby girls did live and reunited with their half sister, June Woo, in China.
This story actually includes three generations of mothers and daughters sharing same or similar tragedies and unhappiness. Mothers protecting their children, wanting their daughters to know their worth. The influence of mothers on their daughters every day life, showing respect was very important. The cultural rules these women were raised with for so many years in China had a life time effect on their lives. They wanted things different for their daughters in America, but they still compared life as it should be in China. I was touched by the strength and courage these women had whether they lived in China or America.