The Joy Luck Club and Its Analysis of Familial Relationships

Essay by mon_atrait001High School, 12th grade February 2008

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Amy Tan wrote her novel The Joy Luck shortly after experiencing a series of events that are similar to Jing-mei, or "June" Woo's experiences through the course of the novel. The original context of the story was to examine her life and the life of her mother in order to forge as stronger bond between them. Instead, Tan's novel takes the mother/daughter dynamic and analyzes it in a way that all women, not just Chinese-Americans, can relate to.

Amy Tan's use of a frame story, or the use of a story within a story, is essential to the development of the novel. The alternating views between the four mothers and daughters often lend themselves to the identification with characters through in the novel, first experiencing the various events through the American-born daughter's eyes, then through the eyes of their immigrant mothers. As Patricia L. Hamilton states in her review "Feng Shui, Astrology, and the Five Elements: Traditional Chinese Belief in Amy Tan's the Joy Luck Club", "The mothers draw on a broad experiential base for their knowledge of American patterns of thought and behavior, but the daughters have only fragmentary, second-hand knowledge of China derived from their mothers' oral histories and from proverbs, traditions, and folktales.

Incomplete cultural knowledge impedes understanding on both sides, but it particularly inhibits the daughters from appreciating the delicate negotiations their mothers have performed to sustain their identities across two cultures". Or, simply put, the mothers have lived long enough to know things their daughters do not. Like most families, the four daughters and the four mothers have arguments about everything from what the girls want to pursue careers in to who they should marry and when. This universal truth of the rift between generations strengthens Tan's theme of the novel by bringing...