"The Kitchen God's Wife": Chinese Culture, Relationships, Adversity

Essay by twchristineUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 2002

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"The Kitchen God's Wife":

Chinese Culture, Relationships, Adversity

Amy Tan's novel "The Kitchen God's Wife" is the story of a relationship between a mother and daughter that is much more than it seems. This touchingly beautiful narrative not only tells a story, but deals with many of the women writers' issues. Tan addresses the issues of the inequality given women in Chinese culture, and also deals with issues such as Chinese culture's expectations of women, abortion, friendship, mother-daughter relationships, and the strength of women in the face of adversity. Tan even sets the feminist mood with the title of the book, which refers to a woman in Chinese Mythology who cared for a selfish man who became a minor god. She pulls from her own life experiences, relatives, and emotions to write this story, a factor that probably contributes to the realness of the plot and the roundness of the characters.

Tan's mother's previous marriage to an abusive man, her father's death, and her loving relationship with her relatives (specifically her mother) all show themselves in the intricately woven story of a mother named Winnie, and a daughter named Pearl, and their struggles as Chinese-American women.

The protagonist and the antagonist in "The Kitchen God's Wife" is Winnie Louie and Wen Fu. Let's take a look at these two characters from the novel. Winnie Louie's life is characterized by ups and downs and the way she survives all this serves as a moral for her daughter, Pearl. From the age of six Winnie feels the pangs of separation, when her beloved mother leaves her. Winnie is sent to live in her uncle's house in Tsungming Island. The way Winnie is treated is very different from the treatment meted out to her cousin, Peanut.