Junior Honors Language Arts
16 March 2012
Immigration Hardships Faced: 1950s-Present
Different themes in the book Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, feed into the reasons as to why many versatile readers have interests in this novel. It captures the hearts of the young and old, American or non-American, and even the immigrants who seek for someone that understands them. The novel portrays four Asian women and their adult Asian-American daughters as they struggle to find themselves in America. The older generation seeks to find their old traditions, customs, and character amongst their daughters who have become clashed with American culture. And the daughters try to seek their identity and deal with internal conflicts that have to deal with their mothers histories. Tan presents a world in which the characters themselves feel lost even if they are with the own people that raised them or their environment in which they know all about. The Joy Luck Club depicts many hardships such as racism, multiculturalism, and stereotypes, which were encountered when an increase of immigrants came to the Americas from the 1950s to the present. Amy Tan ties in the relationship between real world problems and incorporates them into her novel to raise awareness toward issues that immigrants continue to face. One problem, which was unavoidable, was racism. In one instance in the book, the mothers of the daughters try to persuade their children that American husbands do no good for the family. Anyone in that family that is American is not good for the family. Waverly’s mother, in an effort to dissuade her daughter from marrying an American, states: “American boy never understand you the way Chinese boy do” (Tan 70). Waverly’s mother is insistent on pushing what is comfortable for her on to her daughter. In addressing her cultural needs, her mother wants Waverly to understand her wishes for her daughter to marry a man that is in touch with her personal Chinese culture: the tradition. At a critical age in Waverly’s love life, her mother expresses her dislike towards people unlike her. She ultimately wants Waverly to follow family morals also foreshadowing her strained relationship with her mother because of this. Throughout the course of history, racism is one of the main topics that has marked America in the best of ways and also in the worst. The history of Chinese immigration shows that the United States, even in a legal standpoint, was unfair to the treatment of their own citizens. A certain historian highlighted this fact as he said: “As early as the late 19th century, Chinese in the US brought cases to the Supreme Court to protest their unequal treatment because of their race and ethnicity”(Luo). This helps to elaborate on the fact that, It is the consequence of unlawful constitution amendments like quotas that reinforced the racism inflicted on Chinese immigrants. The immigration laws from the early 1900s, also state that some were unable to apply for citizenship if they were already in the US, therefore giving them the legal position of “aliens” in the US. This affirmed the status of Asians in the United States for many years and there was a constant battle for the continuing right for the Asian now-American community. Equally important in the hardships that an immigrant would be facing, is multiculturalism. It is the meeting of different cultures that threaten to mix together. Multiculturalism was a problem for the first generation Chinese Americans as they faced the fact that their children were American-ized forever. The effects of mixing the two totally different cultures brought about challenges to the generation that had settled in America. June Woo, one the main characters in the book revered the fears of the mothers’ by stating: And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to...
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