Observations of The Joy Luck Club

Quotes

Observation

1) p3 “On her journey she cooed to the swan: “In America I will have a daughter just like me. But over there nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch. Over there nobody will look down on her, because I will make her speak only perfect American English.”

2) P3 “This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.” And she waited, year after year, for the day she could tell her daughter this in perfect American English. (I.Prologue.4)

3) P56 I was still screaming after two laughing men grabbed this man and, shaking him, said, “Joe, stop it, for Chrissake. You’re scaring that poor little girl and her maid.” (II.2.38)

4) P121 I know this, because I was raised the Chinese way: I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, to eat my own bitterness.And even though I taught my daughter the opposite, still she came out the same way! Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl. And I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way. (IV.1.4)

5) P129 In the afternoon, my mother spoke of her unhappiness for the first time. We were in a rickshaw going to a store to find embroidery thread. “Do you see how shameful my life is?” she cried. “Do you see how I have no position? He brought home a new wife, a low-class girl, dark-skinned, no manners! Bought her for a few dollars from a poor village family that makes mud-brick tiles. And at night when he can no longer use her, he comes to me, smelling of her mud.” (IV.1.90)

6) P 145 My daughter did not look pleased when I told her this, that she didn’t look Chinese. She had a sour American look on her face. Oh, maybe ten years ago, she would have clapped her hands – hurray! – as if this were good news. But now she wants to be Chinese, it is so fashionable. And I know it is too late. All those years I tried to teach her! She followed my Chinese ways only until she learned how to walk out the door by herself and go to school. (IV.3.6)

7) P 145 How can she talk to people in China with these words? Pee-pee, choo-choo train, eat, close light sleep. How can she think she can blend in? Only her skin and her hair are Chinese. Inside – she is all American-made.

8) P149 And then I saw another sign across the street. It was painted on the outside of a short building: “Save Today for Tomorrow, at Bank of America.” And then I thought to myself, This is where American people worship. See, even then I was not so dumb! Today that church is the same size, but where that short bank used to be, now there is a tall building, fifty stories high, where you and your husband-to-be work and look down on everybody. (IV.3.50)

9) P 154 Cannot be helped,” my mother said when I was fifteen and had vigorously denied that I had any Chinese whatsoever below my skin. I was a sophomore at Galileo High in San Francisco, and all my Caucasian friends agreed: I was about as Chinese as they were. But my mother had studied at a famous nursing school in Shanghai, and she said she knew about genetics. So there was no doubt in her mind, whether I agreed or not: Once you are born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and think Chinese. (IV.4.2)

10) P 156 And then I whispered, “They’ll think I’m responsible, that she died because I didn’t appreciate her.”

And Auntie Lindo looked satisfied and sad at the same time, as if this were true and I had finally realized it. (IV.4.29)

11) P 158 “Hello,” I say to the little girl. “My name is Jing-mei.” But the little girl squirms to look away, causing her parents to laugh with embarrassment. I try to think of Cantonese words I can say to her, stuff I learned from friends in Chinatown, but all I can think of are swear words, terms for bodily functions, and short phrases like “tastes good,” “tastes like garbage,” and “she’s really ugly.” And then I have another plan: I hold up the Polaroid camera, beckoning Lili with my finger. She immediately jumps forward, places one hand on her hip in the manner of a fashion model, juts out her chest, and flashes me a toothy smile. As soon as I take the picture she is standing next to me, jumping and giggling every few seconds as she watches herself appear on the greenish film. (IV.4.53)

12) P 166 And although we don’t speak, I know we all see it: Together we look like our mother. Her same eyes, her same mouth, open in surprise to see, at last, her long-cherished wish. (IV.4.146)

She wants her daughter to have a good life in America. She dreams of her daughter having it better and only being judged because of her capability and not based on who she is married to. Her child will have a voice of her own and won’t be looked down on just because she is American.

There is a language gap between mother and daughter. In order to get her daughter to understand all of her love and intentions, the mother needs to wait and communicate in her daughter’s language…which might never happen.

Seeing an Asian woman and what appears to be a white girl, people’s first conclusion is that the Asian woman is the girl’s maid.

Despite An-mei’s best efforts, her daughter still followed the mold of Chinese women who are voiceless and shoulder all the emotional burdens. An-mei speculates that the long matrilineal line is like a staircase that: although each step is in a new place, they are all going the same direction.

Suyuan Woo’s is ashamed of her life. She hates how she doesn’t have any rights and unhappy because she is treated just like property. It disappoints her how this is how she must live because of Tsing. She has to be grateful to him since he is the one who created her social life and position.

Waverly doesn’t like hearing she isn’t chinese from her mother. Part of that may be because it’s trending but Waverly still likes to believe that she is chinese even though she is American. She wants to believe it’s a part of her, but when her mother told her that they will know she’s an outsider just by doing nothing when they are in China, it upsets her.

She is saying that chinese traits are in her blood and that they were passed on to her and when she goes to China it will come out. However, she is still American so there will be things that make Waverly stand out. She may look the part but she doesn’t fit it completely.

Lindo is basically saying that American people treasure wealth rather than their own God. She says that Americans believe that money is the most important thing in our society and that can say a lot.

Suyuan says that you can’t choose your nationality. Being chinese is a part of you and it’s always going to be inside of her or in her genes. She can’t just choose not to be chinese.

Jing-mei feels guilty because she thinks she wasn’t a good daughter while her mom was alive. There are also the other sisters who didn’t get a chance to also be good daughters for their mom when she was alive so that causes her to feel even guiltier.

Although she wasn’t able to talk to her verbally, she was still able to communicate with her in some way to show we was a friend. The language barriers can be broken down.

ing-mei is able to accomplish one of her mom’s dreams. They all have a connection with each other and their mother. They are like her and look like her too. This is a way for the mother to still be with her daughters even if she has passed. They all have a part of their mother in them.

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