The Importance of Certain Traditional Chinese Beliefs in Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club"

Essay by mikman52College, UndergraduateA+, December 2004

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The Importance of Traditional Chinese Beliefs in The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club originally started off as a collection of intense, emotional short stories, written by Amy Tan. These twelve short stories are divided into four sections, and deal with the tensions between Chinese and American culture within the relationships between mothers and daughters. The Joy Luck Club is now considered a novel, because all twelve of the short stories are interwoven. Amy Tan, a Chinese American woman, speaks of her life through June, the protagonist of the book. Suyuan, June's mother, is seen as a parallel to Amy Tan's mother. Many of the conflicts in the book are conflicts that Tan directly experiences in her life. In the book, there are numerous examples of the supernatural aspects of Chinese culture. Many of the daughters believe that their mothers have some sort of supernatural power over them. For example, Waverly thinks that her mother will somehow make Waverly see flaws in all of the men she comes to love.

It is unfortunate that in China, during the Cultural Revolution of the 20th century, much of China's old culture was destroyed. The superstitious/supernatural aspects of Chinese culture were largely wiped out in Mainland China, but were kept alive in places like Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. These aspects, however, are very much alive in the book. There are numerous instances in the book where one can see the supernatural aspects of Chinese culture especially in the areas of Chinese astrology, the ancient five elements of Chinese culture, Yin and Yang, and Feng Shui.

Chinese astrology deals with the Chinese calendar and its twelve-year cycle of animals, as well as the fortune telling aspects according to the "movement of heavenly bodies across the Chinese constellations in the sky." It is...