The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
“In America I will have a daughter just like me. But over there nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch. Over there nobody will look down on her, because I will make her speak perfect American English. And over there she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow!” (Tan 17).
1. This excerpt is taken from the opening page of the book. It talks about a Chinese woman who is immigrating to America in hopes of having a daughter who will live a perfect life there. Not to be bound by the chains of her old society.
2. The author wants to express the overarching theme of this section of the story. Many people move to America in hopes of granting a better future for their family.
3. This quote relates to my life because of how my parents and grandparents got her. They immigrated here many years ago, in hope of getting us more opportunities to live a better life. It shows how I should plan for what will benefit me in the future, so I can live a comfortable life.
“We had to play with seriousness and think of nothing else but adding to our happiness through winning. But after sixteen rounds, we would again feast, this time to celebrate our good fortune. And we would talk into night until the morning, saying stories about good times in the past and good times yet to come” (Tan 24).
1. Suyuan Woo, Jing-mei Woo’s deceased mother, had always told stories of the time that she had thought up the idea of the Joy Luck Club. She always explained what they would do to have fun, escaping from their devastating situation.
2. The deeper meaning of this passage is that even in the worst of times, there is always a way to fine happiness in yourself and through others.
3. This passage relates to me in that I often go out with my friends to have fun and get away from all my family problems. Especially n this time that one of my close family members was dying and I just needed to get away from it all.
“I wondered why my destiny had been decided, why I should have an unhappy life so someone else could have a happy one. From my seat by the window I could see the Fen River with its muddy brown waters. I thought about throwing my body into this river that had destroyed my family’s happiness” (Tan 58).
1. In this excerpt, Lindo Jong is forever bonded to this spoiled boy, Tyan-yu, that she didn’t love. She was not happy in the life that she was living, but she also did not want to break the promise of her family. Later on, she regains confidence in herself and figures out a way to get out of this rotting marriage without breaking her promise to her parents.
2.The meaning in this quote is that pursuing the happiness of others is not what will lead oneself to a fulfilling life. The quote is important because it teaches the lesson of putting your own happiness above all others even if the situation seems hopeless.
3. This quote relates to me because throughout my life I was always put in the position to either please my parents or myself. Especially in instances where I did not want to make friends back in elementary school but my parents always wanted me to. The pushed me to be with the ‘popular girls’ but I could never relate to them in anyway.
“‘A boy can run and chase dragonflies, because that is his nature,’ she said. ‘But a girl should stand still. If you are still for very long time, a dragonfly will no longer see you. Then it will come to you and hide in the comfort of your shadow’” (Tan 72).
1. In this passage Ying-Ying is being told by Amah of many things that a girl can not do. A girl cannot think of herself and only of others.
2. This passage is important because it shows how Ying-Ying was taught to be by and important person in her life. It teaches the lesson that in certain societies there are still restrictions to how any individual must act.
3. This passage relates to the real world in that it emphasizes the way our current society has evolved in many ways. Even though our societies still deem itself worthy of stereotype gender roles and rights on everyone.
“And I remember everything that happened that day because it has happened many times in my life. The same innocence, trust, and restlessness, the wonder, fear, and loneliness. How I lost myself” (Tan 83).
1. Ying-Ying is older now and realizes that her wish of being found has always come true. Even in her darkest times she has always promised to find herself. She feels lost in the connection between herself and her daughter.
2. The meaning of this passage is that being lost because of one’s different upbringings is common. In this case Ying-Ying feels lost with her daughter because of her more American life style.
3. This passage relates to my life in that sometimes I feel disconnected from my parents because of how differently we were raised. Especially in times where they would never understand the situations I am going through. Back then when they were my age, things ran much differently then how it is today. I am far from their standards because they do not understand how lost I feel.
“I knew it was a mistake to say anything more, but I heard my voice speaking. ‘Why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off, then why don’t you learn to play chess’” (Tan 99).
1. In this quote, Waverly Jong feels embarrassed to be shown off by her mother out in public for her accomplishments as a chess player. Waverly lashes out in frustration towards her mother’s actions.
2. The quote emphasizes the pride that Lindo had for her daughter’s accomplishments. The quote shows how Waverly wants to be more independent in herself, not wanting her mother to flaunt her achievements because they are not her mother’s achievements to begin with.
3. I can relate to this quote because my mother does the same thing to me. I may not have been the best, bet she always pushed me to be better than everyone else. She saw everyone as an enemy, and every time I did something great she would brag to everyone she knew about it, and I despised it.
“But I also made up lies to prevent bad things from happening in the future. I often lied when I had to translate for her, the endless forms, instructions, notices from school, telephone calls” (Tan 106).
1. In this passage Lena is shown to be lying for the sake of her mother. She often makes up things so that her mother will understand the situation much easily.
2. My understanding of this passage is that many people live in a state of constant paranoia, and in this case, Lena is just trying to do the best she can for her mother. She wants her mother to feel less fearful of her surroundings. It is important because it shows the bond that Lena and her mother have.
3. This passage connects to my life because I often lie to my parents to keep them from worrying about me. Especially in cases of school where I would be super behind on my work or do not have time to rest. I constantly tell them lies about what time I had gone to bed finishing my work just to keep them from worrying about me.
“In those early months, we clung to each other with a rather silly desperation because, in spite of anything my mother or Mrs. Jordan could say, there was nothing that really prevented us from seeing one another. With imagined tragedy hovering over us, we became inseparable, two halves creating the whole: yin and yang” (Tan 118).
1. In this excerpt, Rose is expressing how she feels about her new relationship with Ted. How they could care less about what their mothers said, that they would love each other no matter what.
2. In this excerpt it is emphasized the disconnections in a mother’s relationships to their children. Rose and her mother disagreed with each other about Rose’s relationship. This excerpt shows the general theme of this story, showing the broken relationships between the mothers and daughters.
3. This relates to me and my relationship with my mother. I see out relationship is very distant, I never confided in her because I am afraid of how she might react. My relationship with my mother is littered with very poor communication and I wish to improve that.
“I think about Bing, how I knew he was in danger, how I let it happen. I think about my marriage, how I had seen the signs, really, I had. But I just let it happen” (Tan 131).
1. Rose is talking about how her marriage leading to divorce relates to the death of her younger brother Bing. She is talking about how she does not take a stand for her decisions, and everything just happens.
2. This quote shows how living a life without making decisions impacts emotionally. Rose was hurt after what happened for having not done anything about the situations in progress, hoping everything would resolve itself on its own.
3. This quote relates to me in that I am not a very biased person. In many cases of making decisions with other people, I will gravitate more to what they would like to do. I never decide for myself, being more dependent on others is one of my weaker points. I wish to change myself to be stronger and more independent of my decisions.
“My mother has a wounded sound in her voice, as if I had put the list up to hurt her. I think how to explain this, recalling the words Harold and I have used with each other in the past: ‘So we can eliminate false dependencies…be equals…love without obligation…’ But these are words she could never understand. So instead I tell my mother this: ‘I don’t really know. It’s something we started before we got married. And for some reason we never stopped’” (Tan 162).
1. In this passage Lena tells her mother the truth behind the Ice Cream, questioning why they buy it even though Lena does not eat a single bite of it.
2. The meaning in this passage is a continuation of the author emphasizing the general theme of the book, miscommunication. Many of the characters are disconnected from one another, never able to fully understand what is going on. Lena’s mother was confused, so Lena tried to explain it in the best way she could.
3. This relates to my life in that my mom and I never had a strong relationship to begin with. She always questioned why I did things the way I did. Why do you like to draw? Why do you act like this towards others? I just knew that it was my nature to be like this, and I had no reasoning to justify it.
“"Lena cannot eat ice cream," says my mother. "So it seems. She’s always on a diet." "No, she never eat it. She doesn’t like." "And now Harold smiles and looks at me puzzled, expecting me to translate what my mother has said. "It’s true," I say evenly. "I’ve hated ice cream almost all my life." Harold looks at me, as if I too, were speaking Chinese and he could not understand” (Tan 162).
1. In this excerpt, Lena’s mother is telling Harold that Lena never eats ice cream. Harold seems to want clarification from Lena, but she just told him the same thing.
2. This excerpt takes the theme of miscommunication farther, now in the relationship between husband and wife. Harold and Lena seemed to have not much communication between one another, just having been doing things the way they have always done them.
3. This is relevant in my life that I often feel like my relationships with my friends are misinterpreted. This drives me to want to build stronger and more clarified bonds with my friends and family. They think they know me, but in reality, they do not, never going beyond the line of common interests.
“Rich was smiling. "How long does it take to say, Mom, Dad, I’m getting married?" "You don’t understand. You don’t understand my mother." Rich shook his head. "Whew! You can say that again. Her English was so bad. You know, when she was talking about that dead guy showing up on Dynasty, I thought she was talking about something that happened in China a long time ago"” (Tan 179).
1. Rich does not understand how much of a deal it is for Waverly to tell her mother that she is getting married to him. Rich has a rather rude attitude toward how he thinks of Waverly’s mother and her Chinese traditions and stories.
2. The theme is carried throughout the book, here we have the example that Rich does not understand Waverly’s mother. There is a major communication problem that affects the relationships of the mothers and their daughters.
3. This is very relative to the world right now because many people do not understand their parents or their grandparents all because of the cultures they were surrounded by when growing up. Many newer generations are losing their roots of their heritage, and in that losing connection to their family.
“"How do you know this?" she asked eagerly. "You see it on everything. Made in Taiwan." "Ai!" she cried loudly. "I’m not from Taiwan!" And just like that, the fragile connection we were starting to build snapped. "I was born in China, in Taiyuan," she said. "Taiwan is not China." "Well, I only thought you said ‘Taiwan’ because it sounds the same," I argued, irritated that she was upset by such an unintentional mistake” (Tan 183).
1. In this quote, Waverly is under the assumption that she is starting to fine a connection with her mom. Later in their conversation, she realizes she had made a mistake in the difference between Taiyuan and Taiwan.
2. This quote is important because it shows the effort that Waverly is willing to put into mending her relationship with her mother. Even though she learns from her mistake, she still wants to figure out how to understand her better.
3. This quote relates to me in that I was always fascinated in where my grandparents came from or how they lived. I wanted to getting a better understanding of them, I asked them questions about their parents, and I found a motivation to continue improving my Spanish speaking skills.
“How can she talk to people in China with these words? Pee-pee, choo-choo train, eat, close light sleep. How can she think she can blend in? Only her skin and her hair are Chinese. Inside – she is all American-made” (Tan 254).
1. Waverly’s mother, Lindo, is worried about how her daughter will do in China. Blaming herself for not raising Waverly in more Chinese traditions rather than to have her follow in the American dream.
2. Lindo is worried about her daughter and how she will survive without and language skills other than English. This excerpt is important because it shows how even though there is a faulty connection between the two, they still have a strong loving bond.
3. This very much relates to my relationship with my mother. We may not understand each other completely, or not know what is best, but we still love each other unconditionally just as a mother and daughter would. I would not be able to survive through all my Mexican background without the help and clarification of my mom.
“"Hello," I say to the little girl. "My name is Jing-mei." But the little girl squirms to look away, causing her parents to laugh with embarrassment. I try to think of Cantonese words I can say to her, stuff I learned from friends in Chinatown, but all I can think of are swear words, terms for bodily functions, and short phrases like "tastes good," "tastes like garbage," and "she’s really ugly." And then I have another plan: I hold up the Polaroid camera, beckoning Lili with my finger. She immediately jumps forward, places one hand on her hip in the manner of a fashion model, juts out her chest, and flashes me a toothy smile. As soon as I take the picture she is standing next to me, jumping and giggling every few seconds as she watches herself appear on the greenish film” (Tan 275).
1. Jing-Mei was trying to figure out how to communicate with the girl that had no language connections to her. Jing-Mei figures out how there are many ways to convey feelings to others, there is no need for a language barrier.
2. This passage is most important, it shows the lesson that the book wanted to teach. Throughout the book, there were many fault relationships due to language barriers and cultural differences, but this passage shows that communication is not just limited to words, but also the actions we display to one another.
3. This message relates to my relationship with my brother and sister. We may not be the same people with the same interests, but we still know how to get along and help each other along the way. We may not show it sometimes but most of the time we do not even need to say a word to know what is going on and what needs to be done. It is a basic understanding that is set among us, and it is the unspoken rules that we abide by and live with.