Identity Crisis (Joy Luck Club)

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Identity Crisis

Every person comes to a point in their life when they begin to search for themselves and their identity. Usually it is a long process and takes a long time with many wrong turns along the way. Family, teachers, and friends all help to develop a person into an individual and adult. Parents play the largest role in evolving a person. Amy Tan, author of the Joy Luck Club, uses this theme in her book. Four mothers have migrated to America from China because of their own struggles. They all want their daughters to grow up successful and without any of the hardships they went through. One mother, Suyuan, imparts her knowledge on her daughter through stories. The American culture influences her daughter, Jing Mei, to such a degree that it is hard for Jing Mei to understand her mother's culture and life lessons. Yet it is not until Jing Mei realizes that the key to understanding who her mother was and who she is lies in understanding her mother's life.

Jing Mei spends her American life trying to pull away from her Chinese heritage, and therefore also ends up pulling away from her mother. Jing Mei does not understand the culture and does not feel it is necessary to her life. When she grows up it is not "fashionable" to be called by your Chinese name (26). She doesn't use, understand, or remember the Chinese expressions her mother did, claiming she "can never remember things [she] didn't understand in the first place" (6). Jing Mei "begs" her mother "to buy [her] a transistor radio", but her mother refuses when she remembers something from her past, asking her daughter "Why do you think you are missing something you never had?" (13) Instead of viewing the situation from her mother's Chinese-influenced side, Jing Mei takes the American materialistic viewpoint and "sulks in silence for an hour" (13). By ignoring her mom and her mom's advice, Jing Mei is also ignoring some of the similarities between her and her mother. Suyuan has also...
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