In the film Joy Luck Club a group of old Chinese women; Suyuan, An-mei, Lindo, Ying-ying and their daughters, June, Lena, Waverly, and Rose meet regularly to trade familial stories while playing Mahjong. The film is composed of four stories, each of which contains four separate narratives. In the first stories the mothers, speaking about their relationships with their own mothers, and they worry that their daughters’ recollections of them will never possess the same value. In the second stories, the daughters Waverly, Jing-mei, Lena, and Rose relate their recollections of their childhood relationships with their mothers. In the third group of stories, the four daughters narrate their American adult troubles in marriage and with their careers. They learn from their mothers stories and their passed troubles and marriage too. In the final group of stories, the mother’s struggle to offer solutions and support to their daughters in the process they learn more about themselves.
Lindo and Waverly. In China Lindo has a marriage arranged by her mother Xi Meijuan and the matchmaker, to be married to Mrs. Huang’s son Tyan Hu when she grows up. Both have no interest in each other, so for years they have childless and loveless marriage, she is frequently abused by her frustrated mother-in-law because she thinks believes Lindo’s childlessness is her own fault. Lindo eavesdrops on the servant girl telling her lover that she is pregnant and he willfully abandons her. Lindo soon leaves the marriage without dishonoring herself and her family.
She moves to America and has a daughter, Waverly who become a chess champion. Waverly gets mad Lindo using uses her to show off. Waverly shouts at her mother and decides to quit chess. When she tries to play it again, Waverly loses one chess round, and forced to stop playing chess forever. Years later, she has a white finance named Rich. In order to make Lindo like Rich, Waverly brings him to a family dinner, but he fails to impress them especially by improperly using chopsticks and tampering with Lindo’s cooking dish with a sauce, humiliating Waverly. A while later at the hair salon, Lindo retells her moments with her own mother and declares that she likes Rich very much. She then gives marital blessings to Waverly and Rich.
Ying-Ying and Lena. In China, Ying-Ying was happily married to Lin-Xiao with a baby boy in China until Lin-Xiao abused her and abandoned her for an opera singer. She is later depressed and drowns her baby son in the bathtub. Years after, she immigrated to America, she struggled with her traumatic past, frightening her new family, including her daughter Lena.
Lena shows Ying-Ying around her new apartment with her husband Harold, who is also Lena’s boss. Lena is uncomfortable with her financial arrangements with Harold. He insists that they split the costs of their life evenly with a list of things that they share. Lena feels her husband has no respect for her. Seeing that Lena is unhappy with her marriage, Ying-Ying advised Lena she should leave and not come back until he gives her what she wants.
An-Mei and Rose. An-Mei Hsu is reunited with her long-lost mother, who was disowned by her family due to her actions such as lingering with a wealthy middle aged man shortly after her husband’s death. She finds that Wu-Tsing has another three wives Later, she learns that the Second Wife tricked An-Mei’s mom into being raped and impregnated by Wu-Tsing. The relatives did not believe An-Mei’s mom and kicked her out, she became Wu-Tsing’s Fourth Wife as she had nowhere else to turn. After she gave birth to a boy, the Second Wife took him away from her and claimed him as her own.
Due to much pain in her life her mother commits suicide by eating sticky rice balls poisoned with opium. After the funeral of her mother An- Mei swears vengeance upon Wu-Tsing and his wives. Years later in America she has a child, Rose. Rose has been dating her boyfriend Ted since college. Rose agrees to marry him due to his persistence and willing to have her back. During the marriage Rose and Ted become distant from each other. She decides to have a baby but this does not resolve their marital problems. To make matters worse, Ted cheats on her with another woman. An-Mei compares Rose to her mother’s marriage To avoid having the same fate, Rose stands up to Ted, causing Ted to take her not continue taking her for granted.
Suyuan and June. In World War II when the Japanese invaded China Suyuan fled with her children. She is soon unable to carry the babies to refuge due to illness, so she placed them at a tree hoping someone picks them up. Suyuan was taken in by someone, and survived her ill but was haunted by the loss of her daughters and never knew what happened to them.
After she remarried in America, Suyuan has high hopes for her new daughter June, but June constantly fails to meet her expectations out of a lack of interest. She performs badly during a piano session then Suyuan pushes her to continue training to be a concert pianist, June refuses The following day, June berates Suyuan for her remarks and admits she could never live up to her high expectations. June believes that Suyuan is disappointed in her because June dropped out of college, does not have a successful career, never married. June later received the news from the Club that the long lost twin sisters were alive, turns out they didn’t know Suyuan was already dead so now she must go to China and explain.
A story I would like to analyze is the Jong’s story, Waverly and her mother, Lindo. Both women were forced upon their mothers to have choices made for them. The story is interesting because they rise above the challenges of not being able to make their own decisions. The relation between both characters starts off a bit weird as Waverly believes that Lindo takes too much credit for her success in her chess competitions and later she accuses her mother of bragging to everyone through her, so she quits playing chess. Lindo believes Waverly is too stuck up on trying to live the American culture and may forget her Chinese heritage.
Both Lindo and Waverly fail to understand each other due to their differences but towards the end they confess each others feelings such as Waverly mentioning that she barely feels appreciated by Lindo and tries get reactions out of her, sometimes by being troubled. Also Waverly was starting to have trouble with trying to get her mother to accept that she is dating and soon to marry her fiance, a white man Rich. To try to fix ends she invites Rich to a family dinner but it makes matters worse because Rich does fails to acquire chinese manners, such as how to eat with chopsticks properly and not tamper with the foods given.
Towards the end Lindo is willing to compromise and mix both culture she says Waverly could have American circumstances but Chinese character and also accept Waverly choice of lifestyle. Overall this is a kind of relationship I been having with my parents where they migrated here from Cameroon and I was raised here. I was taught to embrace my culture but also been heavily influenced on the American culture. I faced similar problems where my parents thought I was losing the Cameroon culture values, but like Waverly I fought and fought to fix relations with my parents so we may understand each other. Now me and my parents are willing to incorporate both cultures in our households like the language, holidays and activities.
Both the article and the film mention the strictness of chinese mothers. In the article Amy Chua raises two American born daughters and makes sure they dedicate their time to either playing the piano or violin. This also happens in the film where June’s mother Suyuan and Waverly’s mother Lindo basically forces them and makes sure they spend their free time only playing either piano or chess. The article and the film relate also because chinese mothers tend to not worry too much about their children’s self esteem. We see this happen when both Waverly and Lena tend to complain that their mothers, Lindo and Ying-Ying and their lack of getting them to react to their actions, when passionate about something to talk about they show little to no sympathy or reactions.
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