Conflicts Resolved in the Joy Luck Club

Topics: China, Amy Tan, Song Dynasty Pages: 4 (1442 words) Published: November 29, 2008
“The most difficult thing in life is to know your self.” This quote stated by Thales, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Miletus, adequately describes the posing conflicts in Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club. The desire to find ones true identity, along with the reconciliation of their Chinese culture and their American surroundings, is a largely significant conflict among the characters of the novel. In the discovery of ones individuality develops a plethora of conflicts involving the theme of a lack of communication and misinterpretation of one another. Although, as time progresses, the various conflicts of the characters in The Joy Luck Club that pose major threats to a flourishing mother-daughter relationship are resolved with an understanding of one another, as well as oneself. In different aspects of the novel, each of the major characters battles with their inability to discover their true identity and affiliate their Chinese culture with their American surroundings. Being born and raised in America, the daughters of the novel can better identify and feel adequate or comfortable in a contemporary American society, even though they have been raised in predominantly Chinese households. For the majority of their lives the daughters have tried to mask their Chinese heritage, embarrassed of their mother’s traditions and conservative attitudes. For example, Lena St. Clair said, “I used to push my eyes in on the sides to make them rounder. Or I’d open them very wide until I could see the white parts,” (Tan 104) because her eyes were one of the Chinese characteristics she had inherited from her mother. Similarly, Jing-Mei also Marte 2

feels largely out of touch with her Chinese mother and identity. At the beginning of the novel Jing-Mei says: What will I say? What can I tell them about my mother? I don't know anything. . . .” The aunties are looking at me as if I had become crazy right before their eyes. . . . And then it occurs to me. They are...
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