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The Joy Luck Club

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Nicholas Petrignani
The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck Club is a story of a monthly mah-jong gathering whose members consists of four Chinese mothers with American-born daughters. The novel is narrated by the four mothers and their daughters. At these meetings, the mothers share their concern of the growing rift between their daughters and Chinese customs. Each mother shares her story of her life in China and each daughter tells her story about her life in America. In The Joy Luck Club, the consistent conflict is formulated from the cultural and ideological clash between the mothers and daughters. Tensions arise out of the struggle to adapt to the American way of life when old customs are expected to be honored. Communications between both sides are limited, and from this, they all struggle with the expectations that they have for each other. Amy Tan's novel provides the reader the perspectives from two vastly different worlds - the conflicts the mothers faced and how the Chinese values conflict with American values in the lives of the daughters.

In Amy Tan's novel, the mother is shown struggling with adapting to the American way of life, while the daughters try and honor the old Chinese customs. The mothers constantly criticize their daughters and always expect their daughters to respect and honor their choice. The mothers relate their past to their daughter, so that they may realize the struggle they had faced. The mother's wish for the daughter to live a better life than the one she had back in China is revealed in the conversation between the Chinese woman and her swan on her journey to America in the novels first prologue. Her wish: "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 husband's belch. Over there nobody will look down on her, because I will make her speak only perfect English. And over there she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow!"...