The relationship between children and parents from the 2 essays: Nights Below Station Street and Joy Luck Club.

Essay by TommyeeCollege, UndergraduateA, July 2003

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Children and Parent's relationship

In the modern society, there is often a lack of communication between parents and their children. One can simply open the daily newspaper to find teenagers committing suicide or various crimes due to stress derived from family issues. These incidents reveal the importance of parents' communication with their children. Love for their children is within every parent, which is frequently revealed through the concern they show. David Adams Richards illustrates this matter regarding family relationships in his novel, Nights Below Station Street. The family lives of the characters from Nights Below Station Street and Joy Luck Club demonstrate that children's behavior is directly affected by the misunderstanding of their parents' love for them.

To begin with, the novel shows that children are always their parents' primary concern. Adele's father, Joe, loves her dearly even though she is not her daughter by blood. Joe suffers from chronic back pain, and he feels that drinking alcohol is the most effective means to relieve the pain.

However, he decides to quit because he does not want his drinking problem to cause any harm to and embarrassment for his daughter. He constantly reminds himself, "I can't drink [...] The pain might go back for a bit and it might not - but even if it does- I'll still be back drinking, and it would make everything worse than before" (173). Joe loves Adele more than anyone else. He tries to provide her with the best life possible, just that some obstacle always prevents him from doing so. For example, "Joe had always tried to get Adele the best present he could, and yet never seemed to have the money to do it"(13). Similar to Joe, Byron's mother, Myhrra, tries to be the best mother she can be. Myhrra worries for his son so much that she spoils him.

She would make milk shakes for him in the morning, and fudge to take to school. She would send away for books on tropical fish. And one night when his supper wasn't French fries, hamburgers, and coke, he ran into his bedroom and knocked over one of his tanks. Later that night, while he slept, Myhrra in her blue jeans, and with her eyes still made up, was down on her knee picking up the fish. (22)

Also, she supports her son at all times. When Byron is caught robbing money from the cub troops, Myhrra still believes her son to be innocent and tries to clear his name. Through the eyes of the daughters, we can also see the continuation of the mother's stories, how they learned to cope in America. With this, Amy Tan touches on an obscure, little discussed issue, which is the divergence of Chinese culture through American children born of Chinese immigrant parents. The Chinese-American daughters try their best to become "Americanized," at the same time, casting off their heritage while their mothers watch in dismay. For example, after the piano talent show fiasco, a quarrel breaks out between June and Suyuan. June does not have the blind obedience "to desire nothing...to eat [her] own bitterness." She says to herself, " 'I didn't have to do what my mother said anymore. I wasn't her slave. This wasn't China' " (152). Unbeknownst to June, Suyuan only hopes and wants the best for her daughter. She explains, " 'Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!' " (153). She means that any daughter should follow her parent's request without questions, not like the American daughter who follows her own mind. However, June answers back to her, " 'I wish you weren't my mother...I wish I were dead!' " (153). Unfortunately, the daughters want their mother to know that social pressures to become like everyone else, and not to be different are what motivate them to resent their nationality. They do not want to force themselves to think of their parents' suffering as a metaphor than an actual event. Thus, the novel reveals that a parent's love for his/her children is forever in existence.

Although parental love is always present, children often misunderstand or remain ignorant of their parent's love for them. Adele feels that she has the worst family in the neighborhood. She has no respect for her father and feels that he does not deserve to be in the family. She tells her friend, "Joe's a big stupid drunk [...] Too bad, but that's the way it is- I never mention her as you can see- but it looks pretty grim"(11). In addition to her lack of respect, Adele blames her parents for making her life miserable. She expresses her complaint, "I'm getting the frig out of here as soon as possible and starting my own life where there will be no such things as loads of kids and father who stutters his head off whenever he talks to anybody half important, embarrassing his family to death"(16). Adele just loathes her parents and does not recognize their love for her. Likewise, Byron is equally ignorant of his mother's love for him. He view his mother as if she is his servant. Byron would insult his mother and make rude comments about her in front of his friends. The author even makes the comment, "How could he say what he did to her, she who loved him more than anyone else- who had given birth to him?" (130). As well, whenever Myhrra asks him about how he is, he would reply, "You're a stupid mother, you don't know anything"(191). Therefore, the novel shows how children fail to recognize their parents' love for them. In the second section of Joy Luck Club, the problem of communication and lack of understanding between mothers and daughters is emphasized. This section is rife with mother-daughter conflicts, as the story in the beginning foreshadows. When the mothers give advice regarding their daughters' problems, the daughters either take the advice to mean something other than the mothers had intended, or they simply ignore it. At the end of each vignette in this section, the daughters, finally heeding their mothers' advice and exhortations, realize that their mothers had been right about everything all along.

As a result of the misunderstanding of their parents' love, the children's behavior and attitude is ultimately affected. Adele behaves in the way she does because she feels lacking of a regular and loving family. Blaming her family for a miserable life, Adele runs away from home to go live in her boyfriend's apartment, seeking to find friends that could replace her family. Adele feels unloved and isolated. She does not tell anyone that she is pregnant because she feels that no one is worthy of her trust. In a similar way, Byron's behavior is affected by his view of his mother. Resulting from his unawareness of the love bestowed upon him by his mother, Byron acts independently and selfishly. He sells mice to make his own money, refusing to rely on his mother for anything. As well, he does show respect for anyone but himself. On his mother's wedding night, he would "look at his mother in her white dress as if she was foolish, and this made Myhrra sad"(202). Taken together, Adele and Byron's behavior and attitude is the product of their misinterpretation and unawareness of their parents' love for them.

In the novel, Nights Below Station Street, the author uses a small community to show the relationship between children's thoughts and their behaviors. Where the author of Joy Lucky Club uses the whole Chinese culture to present the relationships between them in general. A simple misunderstanding of their parent's love for them would in time influence the children's behavior and attitude. Thus, if children and parents have more communication with one another, parents would be able to help their children shape a better future.