A Motherly Role-the Joy Luck C Essay

This essay has a total of 1731 words and 7 pages.

A Motherly Role-the Joy Luck C


A Motherly Role
A reoccurring theme in Amy Tan's novels is mother-daughter relationships. In each of her
three novels she represents different roles of the mother and the effects of each; The Joy
Luck Club depicts mothers living through daughters, The Kitchen God's Wife portrays mother
teaching daughter through past experience, and finally The Hundred Secret Senses displays
non-existence of the mother in the relationship.

This excerpt from The Joy Luck Club shows what kinds of things, from real accomplishments
to the uncontrollable features of nature.

"Auntie Lin and my mother were both best friends and arch-enemies who spent a lifetime
comparing their children. I was one month older than Waverly Jong, Auntie Lin's prized
daughter. From the time we were babies, our mothers compared the creases in our belly
buttons, how shapely our earlobes were, how fast we healed after we scraped our knees,
how thick and dark our hair was, how many shoes we wore out in one year, and later,
how smart Waverly was at playing chess, how many trophies she had won last month,
how many cites she had visited" (27).


Jing-Mei, the piano player in The Joy Luck Club, felt the most pressure from her mother,
because her mother had to follow behind the word of the prodigy in town. ‘"Of course you
can be a prodigy, too '" Jing-Mei's mother, Suyuan, tells her after receiving the news of
Waverly, the chess prodigy (141). The expectations for Jing-Mei have heighten now that her
mother's friend's daughter has been held in such a spotlight, as to be called a prodigy.
Suyuan takes it upon herself to make her daughter rise above the accomplishments of her
peers, and prove to the mothers their family is high in the running competition, whether
Jing-Mei approves or disapproves. Suyuan decides that with piano lessons she and her
daughter will rise above Lindo and Waverly. Jing-Mei only sees tedious lessons and hours
of practice, but her mother envisions proudly sharing success stories between friends,
comparing and convincing other mothers that her daughter, Jing-Mei, was indeed the best.

Every detail and aspect of their lives were picked out an compared and for the one
daughter that lost these comparisons, a lowered self-image was the result. Jing-Mei never
believed in herself, because she felt, since her childhood, she had failed her mother.

"In the years that followed, I failed her so many times, each time asserting my own will,
my right to fall short of expectations. I didn't get straight A's. I didn't become
class president. I didn't get in to Stanford. I dropped out of college.

For unlike my mother, I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I could only be me" (155-156).
For the mothers this competitive nature was meant to build confidence and secure the
success of their daughter, for the weaker and less confident personality, like Jing-Mei's,
the inability to come out on top, effected her self-image and her capabilities for her
success. It is her childhood failures that molded her adult life, she never won as a child
and it became the same when she was an adult.

The competition between the families are intense. One mother reports magniloquent success
stories of their daughter and another mother returns her news to surpass the last.

‘"She bring home too many trophy, lamented Auntie Lindo that Sunday. "All day she play
chess. All day I have no time do nothing but dust off her winnings." She threw a
scolding look at Waverly, who pretended not to see her.

‘"You lucky you don't have this problem," said Auntie Lindo with a sigh to my mother.
And my mother squared her shoulders and bragged: "Our problem worser than yours. If e
ask Jing-Mei was dish, she hear nothing but music. It's like you can't stop this natural
talent" (148-49).

Such debates are common, and a similar element in all gossip was, as this excerpt so
distinctly shows, was fractiousness.

Through the piano Jing-Mei carries the responsibility of not only her mother but the
entire Woo family. Jing-Mei does not consider this as a privilege, but as an unwanted
burden. "I felt as though I had been sent to hell," was her remark after the suggestion of
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