Terrifying Past (Joy Luck Club) Essay, Research Paper
In the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, four of the main characters have a secret in their past that haunt them constantly. Suyuan Woo, An-mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-ying St. Clair all have terribly bad experiences in China. These women try to escape their past by moving to America, but their memories still disturb them .Not only does it plague their own minds, but it also affected their daughters? lives and the way they were raised. Each of these women experienced terrible events in their lives that effected them and the following generation.
Suyuan Woo has one main focus in her life, to find her two lost baby daughters in China. ?Your mother was a very strong woman, a good mother…..and that?s why you can understand why a mother like this could never forget her other daughters. She knew they were alive and before she died she wanted to find her daughters in China? (Tan 29). Everyday she felt guilty for abandoning these two helpless children and desperately tried to find them in everyway possible. June Woo, Suyuan?s daughter, was also affected by this constant search. When her mother dies, June goes to China to find her long lost sisters. June says ? I look at their faces again and I see no trace of my mother in them… and now I also see what part of me is Chinese. It is so obvious. It is my family. It is our blood. After all theses years, it can finally be let go? (331). This event in June?s life helps her find her true Chinese identity and solve the mystery that plagued her and her mother?s life for so long.
An-mei?s childhood consisted of her father?s death, her mother?s disappearance, and her mother?s rape followed by her mother?s suicide. The suicide was supposed to give An-mei freedom and make her strong. Before her mother dies, An-mei tells her mother with her heart, ?I can see the truth, too. I am strong, too? (271). She realizes that she must put herself first and let no one walk all over her; her mother gave her this strength with her spirit. Rose Hsu Jordan, An-Mei?s daughter, had very similar personality characteristics as her grandmother. Her daughter values her husband?s feelings above her own and always put him first; their marriage ended in divorce. When it was time to settle the financial papers, An-mei sees the same weakness in Rose as she did her own mother. She refers to her mother and her daughter as ?stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way? (241). Her mother?s spirit gave Rose the strength to stand up for herself and not allow her weak spirit to be taken advantage of before it was too late.
Ying -ying St. Clair was scarred by love at a young age. She marries and has a child, but shortly after her husband starts to cheat on her. Her constant misery made her want out of the marriage so much that it was enough to cause her to have an abortion; when her baby?s spirit leaves, her own spirit goes with it. Ying-ying says about her daughter ?This is my greatest shame. How can I leave this world without leaving her my spirit??(286). Giving up the life of her first child affected not only her spirit, but the spirit of her daughter. Lena St.Clair, Ying-ying?s daughter, begins to lose her strength in her marriage and her spirit, just like her mother. Ying-ying says ?All around this house I see the signs. My daughter looks but does not see. This is a house that will break into pieces. How do I know? I have always known a thing before it happens? (275). The loss of Ying-ying soul causes Lena to be weak, but in the end they join together to be strong.
Lindo Jong was abandon by her mother at a very young age. Because of their poverty, Lindo?s mother thought it would be best for her to marry into wealth; her mother spoke to her as if she was someone else’s child. Lindo said, ? Because I was promised to the Huangs? son for marriage, my own family began treating me as if I belong to somebody else? (45). The absence of Lindo?s mother left a hole in her heart. When Lindo has a daughter, she tries to be the mother she never had. Unfortunately she was so proud of her that she showed her off to much. Waverly said ? Why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off, then why don?t you learn how to play chess?? (101). Lindo was drastically hurt because she never wanted anything but the best for her daughter. From that moment on, Lindo never showed off her daughter again and their relationship was strained for years to come.
In The Joy Luck Club the four mother figures are intertwined by a connection. Each of them has an incident in the past they would like to forget. These incidents not only affected their own lives but the lives of their daughters as well. They were not only related by blood, but also by spirit; when a mother?s spirit was weak, her daughter?s spirit was weak as well. The bond between the mothers and daughters in the novel was much stronger than blood, it was by soul. The connection of the spirits will be passed down for many generations to come, just like their culture.