Free Study Guide: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan - BookNotes|
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THE JOY LUCK CLUB: SUMMARY / STUDY GUIDE
During the meal, Waverly insults Jing-Mei by criticizing her hair stylist, calling him gay and suggesting he probably has AIDS. Jing-Mei responds with a subtle insult about Waverly’s business, which has failed to pay Jing-Mei for some copywriting she did for them. Waverly responds that Jing-Mei’s work is sub-standard. This criticism brings tears to Jing-Mei’s eyes. Knowing that Jing-Mei has been hurt by Waverly, Suyuan tries to comfort her daughter after the guests leave. She calls Waverly a crab, who walks crooked and states that Jing-Mei is a much better and more honest person. She then gives Jing-Mei the jade pendant, which is of the best quality. She also tells her the pendant represents her “life’s-importance.”
The entire chapter is punctuated with Suyuan’s complaints about the
neighbors and their cat. Jing-Mei feels that her mother is making something
out of nothing. When the cat disappears, both the neighbors and Jing-Mei
suspect that Suyuan has poisoned the animal. After Suyuan’s death, Jing-Mei
is cooking for her father, for he has not been eating right. When she
is in the kitchen, she notices the loudness of the neighbors and realizes
her mother’s complaints have been valid. She also sees the neighbor’s
missing cat and is relieved to know that her mother did not poison it.
Jing-Mei, who opened the novel by taking her mother’s place in the Joy Luck Club, narrates this chapter entitled Best Quality. The title is a clear reference to the jade pendant that Suyuan gave Jing-Mei, for it is of the best quality. More importantly, Jing-Mei during the chapter begins to realize the best qualities of Suyuan and herself. Through most of her life, Jing-Mei does not value herself, judging that she is less than best quality. Suyuan constantly tries to improve her daughter’s self-worth.
When Suyuan gives Jing-Mei the pendant, she tells her that it reflects “life’s importance.” At first Jing-Mei does not understand the meaning of the pendant; it is not until after Suyuan’s death that she realizes the true worth of the gift. By giving her the precious necklace, Suyuan indicates to Jing-Mei that she worthy of jade of “best quality.” Through the gift she has, therefore, boosted the confidence of Jing-Mei, who has always been extremely hard on herself. With the pendant, Suyuan makes Jing-Mei realize her own worth. The pendant also symbolizes the importance of passing down Chinese heritage from one generation to the next.
The New Year party reveals the real natures of Suyuan and Jing-Mei, who are
selfless and humble. They serve themselves last, taking the leftover crabs.
They also swallow the insults heaped on them by the Jongs with dignity.
While Lindo jokes about Suyuan’s gaudy dress, Waverly criticizes Jing-Mei’s
gay hair stylist and unacceptable copywriting skills. Jing-Mei is helpless
to really strike back. Since Waverly is a successful tax accountant and
she is a lowly copywriter, Jing-Mei feels totally inferior.
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. 09 May 2017