The Joy Luck Club Film Analysis
The Wayne Wang’s film, Joy Luck Club, based on a novel by Amy Tan, tells a story of eight women. The movie is a tale of four mothers and their four daughters and their struggles through out life. The film is divided into four sections; where each mother and her corresponding daughter tell their story from their perspectives. A theme of pain and suffering encompasses each mother’s story, while a fear of being a disappointment is a central theme in each daughter’s tale. Many anthropological concepts are addressed in this film, most of which surround culture. Symbolism comes into play. Reoccurring elements such as spirituality are found in each woman’s story. Also, gender roles and sexism are also are strong elements within the film
The Joy Luck Club opens as a story is being told about an old woman remembering a swan that she bought in shanghai for too much money. The market vendor told her that the swan was, “once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose. And now look, it is too beautiful to eat!" The woman journeyed to America with her swan and told the bird that, "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 husbands belch. Over there, nobody will look down on her because I will make her speak only perfect American English. And over there, she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow. She will know my meaning because I will give her this swan, a creature that became more than what was hoped for.” When the woman came to America, immigration officials took the swan away and the woman was only left with a single feather. She had wanted to give the feather to her daughter and tell her, "This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions." This story is a reoccurring element in the film. It is told by June, the daughter of Suyaun. This story is a symbolic and metaphoric in many ways. The swan was a symbol for amounting to something. In our culture the swan symbolizes aesthetic and beauty. The swan is not a symbol for beauty in this woman’s story. The mother wants to transgress from Chinese cultural schemas associated with women being of less worth and intelligence than men. The mother wishes to raise a daughter who is strong, independent, and “so much more than it what was hoped for”. Literature and writing can be a way of examining a culture’s thought patterns. In this film, it can be argued that this is an indirect way for Suyaun to tell June the story of her hopes and aspirations for her. The bird itself is also symbolic for migration from one land to another, something that Suyaun is doing as well. Love and marriage is a reoccurring theme in this film. Lena’s husband, Harold, accounts for everything within their marriage and divides it by half. The two, financially, split everything. Though, Harold is not a terrible man to Lena, he does not respect her and he does not truly love her. This is hard for Lena’s mother, Yin Yin, to witness. Yin Yin married a man who put on a sweet and charming front, however, turned out to be a monster. There are extreme gender roles, which will later be mentioned, within this film. Yin Yin and Lena are both able to transgress from these gender roles by escaping their marriages. Rose meets Ted while in college. Soon after they start dating, Ted brings Rose home to meet his parents. Ted’s mother pulls Rose aside and comments on her race. His mother claims that she, herself, is not racist, however, Ted and Rose’s relationship would reflect poorly on the company. This is a form of ethnocentrism. Ted’s mother believes that Rose’s Chinese heritage is inferior to her own American one. This is also a form of racism. Lindo, Waverly’s mother, also displays ethnocentrism. Lindo disapproves of Waverly’s boyfriend, Rich. Waverly had been hesitant to introduce Rich to her family or announce...
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