The Joy Luck Club

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The Joy Luck Club is carefully structured around the stories of four pairs of Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters. The novel alternates from the shocking lives of the mothers in pre-Revolutionary China to the complex and chaotic life of the daughters in twentieth century San Francisco. The Joy Luck Club, written in 1989, was during a time of great change in the world. It was during this time where the feminist movement had gained great momentum. It also coincides with the period where the once powerful ideals of communism had begun to collapse with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Further this period is one where the capitalist western society had been at its peak with great power and influence in the world. Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club, reflects many of the issues present at the time of publication. That is, it reflects the historical, social and cultural pressures facing the world at the time. The novel begins with Jing-mei Woo, also known as “June”, who tells the story of the death of her mother, Suyuan, and twin daughters during the Sino-Japanese War. Unlike the other three Joy Luck mothers, Suyuan has no first-person narrative voice in the novel. June "replaces" her mother in the act of storytelling. This duty of replacement burdens Jing-mei since she does not understand her mother and regards herself as a failure who always comes short of the mother's expectation of "best quality." The basic conflict between Lindo Jong and her daughter Waverly also originates in the daughter's sense of inadequacy in front of the mother. Released herself from a pre-arranged marriage with a trickster's wisdom, Lindo teaches Waverly the manipulation of willpower in playing chess and in life. Throughout their stories, the mother and the daughter constantly engage in a battle of strong wills and become reconciled only when Waverly recognizes the similarities between them. Obsessed with the death of her baby son during her abusive first marriage,...
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