Bridging the Gaps
In Amy Tan’s novel of conflicting cultures, The Joy Luck Club, the narrators contemplate their inability to relate from one culture to another. The novel is narrated by and follows the connected stories about conflicts between Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-raised daughters. Jing-mei, one of the daughters, has taken her mother’s place in a weekly gathering her mother had organized called the Joy Luck Club, in which four women would gather to gamble together to help each other. Through use of many different perspectives and concise diction, Tan reveals her theme of building bridges between cultures and generations and the revelation that tragedy shapes us. In The Joy Luck Club, Tan’s deceptively simple yet dramatic style efficiently helps the reader to see the cohesion of family and tradition, along with the separations between the old Chinese customs and the new American ideas. Part of Tan’s style is the organization of the novel, which has an effect on the message sent by the author. Throughout the novel, ideas of the theme emerge through the organization method the author uses. The Joy Luck Club is divided into four sections that include four stories each. Each story has either a mother or a daughter who becomes the narrator. Before each story, the theme for the section is expressed via a vignette. Because accounts of the mothers and the daughters are place close together, it is easier for the reader to notice similarities between the mothers and daughters based on how they express themselves. For instance, in the story of Lindo's first marriage, she tries to think ways to "escape this marriage without breaking [her] promise to [her] family". (Tan 59). Lindo seems very independent and intelligent for her age. Similarly, her daughter, Waverly, seems to be adept in chess and she notices that her "ability to play chess [is] a gift...it [is] effortless...[she] [can] see things on the chessboard that other people [can] not" (Tan...
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