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THE JOY LUCK CLUB: ONLINE NOTES / LITERATURE ANALYSIS
An-Mei is the friend of Suyuan, the mother of Rose Jordan, and the wife of George Hsu. She is intelligent, perceptive, and sensible. She has always understood her position in life and acted according to her conscience. Like Suyuan, she suffered greatly in her earlier life in China. As a child, she had been taken by her mother to the house of Wu Tsing, where her mother was a concubine. Not wanting An-Mei to experience a similar life, her mother kills herself to set An-Mei free. Her death instills courage and strength in An-Mei. She is able to assert her identity and raise her voice against exploitation.
When she comes to America, An-Mei works in a fortune cookie factory, marries George Hsu, and has seven children. Although An-Mei suffers personal loss in her life, she does not turn bitter. When her son, Bing, drowns, she loses faith in God, but not in herself. Because she believes in herself, An-Mei is always willing to reach out a helping hand to others. She helps Lindo Jong to establish herself in America and encourages Jing-Mei to undertake a journey to China to fulfil her mother’s wish. An-Mei also tries to give Rose a similar strength of character to her own. When she sees her daughter suffering because of her husband, she persuades Rose to confront Ted and assert her rights.
Although An-Mei is a scarred woman, she is never defeated. Repeatedly
through the book, she shows her strength of character.
Lindo Jong is the mother of Waverly and the wife of Tin Jong. In all aspects, she is a combination of the old and the new. Although she is a traditionalist, determined to preserve her Chinese heritage, she is also individualistic and encourages her children to be the same. Like Suyuan and An-Mei, Lindo suffered in her early life in China. At a young age, she was married off to a man she did not know or love. Although she was treated poorly by her husband and his family, she was an obedient girl and never contemplated running away from her horrid situation, for she would not want to dishonor the name of her parents. In the end, she concocts a story that allows her to honorably get out of the marriage, which was never consummated.
A natural thinker, Lindo Jong is intelligent, enterprising, and practical. When she escapes to America, she finds a husband and quickly has three children so she can insure her American citizenship. As a devoted mother, she wants her children to have the best of both the old world and the new. She encourages Waverly to be the best she can be and is pleased when she becomes a chess prodigy. Her expectations for her daughter are so high that Waverly resents Lindo and her interference, but she longs for her approval and blessing. When Waverly decides to marry Rich Shields, she fears telling Lindo about her plans, but she knows she must have her mother’s approval. To Waverly’s surprise, Lindo blesses the union and even tries to impress Waverly’s future in-laws, in order to please her daughter.
In every way, Lindo proves she is a wise and determined woman and a
Ying-ying is the mother of Lena Livotny and the wife of Clifford St Clair. During the course of the novel, she evolves from a wild youth to a cautious and disillusioned woman. Growing up in a wealthy Chinese family, she admits that she was a tiger in search of its prey. She married the wrong man at a young age. When she became pregnant, he deserted her for another woman, causing her to become disillusioned and bitter. She aborts her unborn child and goes to live in poverty and squalor with her cousins. Her body is alive, but her spirit is dead.
Ying-ying marries Clifford St. Clair even though she does not love him for
many years. When she has a daughter, she overprotects her because she
feels insecure. As a result, Lena grows up and is unable to stand up for
herself. She also fears her mother’s disapproval. As an adult, she dreads
her mother coming for a visit, for she knows that Ying-ying will be critical
of her new home and her shallow marriage. In truth, Ying-ying is critical
because she wants something better for Lena than what she has experienced
herself. She knows what it is like to endure unhappiness, and she wants
more for her daughter. As a result, she encourages Lena to stand up to
her insensitive husband and tell him that she is not happy with their
dull, mechanized marriage. In the end, Lena understands and appreciates
her mother’s spirit.
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. 09 May 2017