平衡木: Píng héng mù – Balancing Wood
The Joy Luck Club, a novel by Amy Tan, conveys the conflicts between Chinese immigrant mothers and their American born daughters. These relationships are demonstrated through four stories about each family. Each set of stories displays disconnection between the mothers and daughters. Rose Hsu and her mother An-mei have many disparities. Their major difference is the amount of “wood” they have at different points in the story. In the novel, human characteristics are displayed by elements. The element wood represents how balanced in an opinion one is. Rose, a character who initially lacks wood, bends too quickly to listen to other people’s ideas, while her mother firmly stands by her beliefs. Wood has a huge influence in the Hsu women’s lives and plays an important role in the relationship between each other.
The first thing that readers hear about An-mei is that she lacks wood. Another girl, June Woo, opens the story by giving details about each character. The only thing she expresses about the Hsu family is what wood is and how it relates to An-mei: “Too little wood and you ben[d] too quickly to listen to other people’s ideas, unable to stand on your own. This was like my Auntie An-mei” (31). From the very beginning of the novel the reader is put on a path to see An-mei as a character that is defined by her amount of wood. Readers get the external appearance of An-mei as a person who listens to everyone.
In the story “Half and Half,” the readers get to see the internal feelings of Rose Hsu. Throughout the story, and most of the novel, Rose has a lack of wood that causes her to listen to everybody’s opinions. This may be caused by the time Rose’s family took a trip to the beach, and her four year old brother Bing drowned. Rose immediately blames herself for the death because she feels she should have kept a closer watch over him. After that experience she does not want to take on responsibilities anymore