Conflicting Relationships In

“The Joy Luck Cl Essay, Research Paper

In The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, many conflicting relationships are depicted, but particularly, the relationships between the four sets of mothers and daughters, who are the main characters in the book. There are Jing-mei Woo and her recently deceased mother Suyan Woo, Lena St. Clair and her mother Ying-ying St. Clair, Rose Hsu Jordan and An-mei Hsu, and finally, Waverly Jong and Lindo Jong. All of the mothers were joined by a common bond, and now, all of the daughters are joined as well. The mothers were linked through their horrible experiences in China, and by the Joy Luck Club, while the daughters were united by all having to grow up facing the fact that their mothers were raised with non-American values, and were now trying to pass them on to their unwilling American children. (As the girls grew up, all of them had some sort of ongoing conflict with their mothers. Two of these relationships in particular caught my attention.) Mrs. Woo and Mrs. Jong had been best friends for a long time. Despite this, their daughters were not, and this was probably a direct result of the fact that their mothers continuously urged their daughters to rise above the other one s accomplishments. This rivalry started early in the girls childhoods, and has lasted into their adult lives. When Jing-mei, or, “June”, was a little girl, her parents purchased a piano, and started her into piano lessons. Mrs. Woo was convinced that Jing-mei could be anything that her mother wanted her to be; comparable to the likes of Shirley Temple, and most importantly, Waverly Jong. At first, June had every confidence in her quest to be a piano prodigy, but after a disastrous performance at a recital, she lost her faith, and decided never to play the piano again. “I assumed my talent-show fiasco meant I never had to play the piano again. But two days later, after school, my mother came out of the kitchen and saw me watching TV. Four clock,” she reminded me as if it were any other day . I didn t budge. And then I decided. I didn t have to do what my mother said anymore. I wasn t her slave. This wasn t China.”

This was probably the first time that June stood up to her mother, and maybe, the last. Unlike June s uncertain attitude concerning her talents, the young Waverly Jong had a seemingly unlimited amount of confidence in herself. At a very young age, she became a world class chess champion. She won countless trophies, and even got her picture on the cover of Life magazine next to Bobby Fischer. Regardless of these extraordinary talents, Waverly was soon overcome with the embarrassment caused by her mother s constant bragging of her. After a huge argument, in public, I might add, Waverly foolishly threatens never to play chess again. Her mother silently allows it. Soon Waverly decides that she d like to resume her short-lived chess career, but finds it impossible to continue where she left off. As an adult, Waverly has trouble directly communicating with her mother. She d been married to a Chinese man once, but gotten a divorce. When Lindo heard about the plans for the divorce, she hastily blamed all of the marriage problems on Waverly. Now that Waverly is seeing Ted, her mother seems not to approve, and so, since each time Waverly brings him up, Lindo changes the subject, Waverly decides to bring her mom up to the apartment they ve been sharing to try and hint towards the present situation. Even this didn t seem to reach her mother s unwilling mind. “But now, how could my mother not notice that we were living together, that this was serious and would not go away even if she didn t talk about it? She had to say something.” Waverly would soon find out that her mother had known everything all along. Waverly finally saw the great power that her mother possessed over her, and both women realized how alike they were. By the book s end, the two pairs have come closer that ever. They ve come through some pretty hard times, but still managed to overcome what is probably the toughest of all barriers- clashing cultures. In getting over this major contrast, they were able to discover their similarities, and overcome their differences.


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