Identity Crisis in Amy Tan's "Joy Luck Club"

Essay by emmachaseHigh School, 11th gradeA, September 2007

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"The Joy Luck Club", through a series of sixteen stories told by four pairs of mothers and daughters, is an intimate look at the lives of immigrant Chinese women and their American born daughters. These stories give us insight into the difficulties that these women have with their identities as the mothers try to give their daughters the best of each culture and the daughters struggle for independence from their mothers and their traditional ways. Many of the mothers use stories, and especially tragedies, of their past to help their daughters, as well as the reader, understand their traditional culture while adjusting to the states and many of the daughters tell stories that express the misunderstandings between their mothers and them over their culture. This provides a way to expose the identity issues that all these women possess.

This struggle with identity is common to all eight women, although in different ways.

Some of the women experience this crisis through self-doubt while others experience this through passiveness. Some of these struggles with identity cause these women to be too passive while others fear that they have become too American and have lost touch with their Chinese heritage. The daughters particularly seem to be unable to reconcile the Chinese and the American parts of their characters.

In the relationship between Ying-ying and Lena St. Clair, both have trouble being true to their inner desires as they struggle with their dual cultures. In the story “The Moon Lady”, Ying-ying says, “All these years I kept my true nature hidden, running along like a small shadow so no one could catch me.(Tan 64)” This same trait shines through in Lena’s relationship with her husband where she is responsible for the success of his business but unable to ask for the promotion...