Free Study Guide: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan - BookNotes|
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THE JOY LUCK CLUB: FREE BOOK SUMMARY / FREE NOTES
Later An-Meiís mother partially redeemed herself. When Popo was dying,
she attempted to save her life. Following an old Chinese custom, she severed
part of her own flesh and put it in a ďsoupĒ that she created to heal
her mother. As a result, An-Meiís mother also bore a physical scar.
This chapter again stresses a lack of communication and disconnection between mother and daughter. An-Meiís mother is disowned by her grandmother when she leaves her children to live with a wealthy merchant. As a result, An-Mei has always been separated from her mother. Popo, the grandmother, unwittingly makes the separation more painful when she tells An-Mei that she came from a worthless goose and when she bombards her with stories about disobedient children who are severely punished. Throughout her childhood, An-Mei is terrified; as a result, she carries emotional scars.
The physical scars that both An-Mei and her mother carry are very symbolic. An-Mei is severely burned by boiling soup and carries a scar from the incident. An-Meiís mother cuts her own flesh to make a soup meant to heal her mother, Popo. Like her daughter, she also has a scar. The physical scar, however, is not nearly as painful as the underlying emotional scars caused by the separation of a daughter from her mother.
The image of An-Meiís mother as a goose is also symbolic. Like the goose at the first of the book, who tries to change itself into a swan, An-Meiís mother also stretches herself into something different. Popo disclaims her as a result. She is so hurt by her daughterís immorality that she unknowingly punishes her granddaughter by telling her that she came from a worthless goose. In other words, An-Mei is made to feel like a goose egg, a useless being.
After many years of sad confusion, An-Mei finally comes to understand her
mother and accept that she is like her in many ways. Her own suffering
has made her appreciate the suffering her mother endured. She states,
ďNot because she came to me and begged me to forgive her. She did not.
She did not need to explain that Popo chased her out of the house when
I was dying. This I knew. She did not need to tell me she married Wu Tsing
to exchange one happiness for another. I knew that as well. Here is how
I came to love my mother. How I saw in her my own nature. What was beneath
my skin. Inside my bones.Ē An-Mei further explains that to really know
yourself, you have to deal with your past; you must peel away your own
skin, and the skin of your mother, and the skin of your grandmother before
her. It is a painful, but necessary, process in order to be in touch with
your true self; but it is only when the scarred skin is peeled away that
the healing can begin. Much of the book deals with past suffering, which
causes a need for healing.
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