Literary Analysis of Amy Tan’s “A Pair of Tickets”

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The Amy Tan’s is popularly known as the 1998 novel, ‘The Joy Luck Club’ which comprises of several short stories. “A Pair of Tickets” emerges as the final story in the novel. Initially, Jing-Mei was not aware of her identity until when she goes on a trip to China and acquires the story about her mother’s past. The desire to meet her sisters on her mother’s side developed intensively. The story opens up the moment Jing-Mei feels that she is pretty a Chinese, “I think, my mother was right (Tan, 267). I am becoming Chinese” The paper analyses the themes, characterization, symbolism, and features of styles used in the “A Pair of Tickets.”

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Jing-Mei has the feelings that she is a Chinese. At first, they are on the train with her father, Canning Woo who was at the age of seventy-two. They were both weeping after receiving a letter from her twin sisters about their mother’s death. The twin daughters belonged to Suyuan in her first marriage. In 1944, she forced the two children aside of the road (Tan, 268).  Canning Woo tells Auntie Lindo to write a letter back to the twin girls to inform them that their mother had already died. However, the message was taken to the Joy Luck Club by Auntie Lindo accompanied by women singing Suyuan Woo. Afterward, Jing-Mei admits being one of her half-sisters about the death of their mother. She later asked Auntie Lindo to write a letter to her sisters to inform them that their mother was dead (Tan, 269-271).

The reunion of the family is emotional. In the end, a tedious and a tiresome journey from America, they Jing-Mei, and her father arrived in China. They were warmly welcomed by Canning’s great-aunt. Moreover, other family members also joined them. Her desire to the family a member is clearly expressed when she started taking photographs with her Polaroid camera. They decided to rent an expensive hotel contrary to Jing-Mei’s expectations. In the story, Jing-Mei is portrayed as an anxious character. While still, they were in the hotel, she was ready to enjoy the Chinese dish. The native-born Chinese decides to take meal including hamburgers, French fries as well as apple pie à la mode. The incidence shows her anxious nature (Tan, 278).

Symbolism in a Pair of Tickets

Canning explaining the meaning of the names was symbolic. In the late night, Canning decided to teach about Chinese culture. It is important for a reader to know the meaning of names used in the story to comprehend the Chinese culture. The meaning of names is momentous to pick up the sacred relationship that existed between Suyuan and her daughters Jing-Mei, Chwun Yu and Chwun Hwa. He started off by explaining the meaning of her wife’s name who was already dead. He explained that the name had two meanings. The first definition meant “Long-Cherished Wish,” and the other meaning was “Long-Held Grudge.” Moreover, he explained that Jing-Mei’s name meant pure essence or excellent. Her second name Mei meant little sister. This means that Jing-Mei was of the essence to her two sisters. On the other hand, Chwun meant spring and Yu meant rain, a name given to the first born. The name “Hwa’’ in Chinese history meant flower (Tan, 281).This ideological order of deaths signifies the sequence of birth since “rain comes before flower” The explanation says that twins daughters would be inseparable.

Canning explains about the history of his wife to her daughters. He described how Suyuan abandoned the half-sisters to Jing-Mei. She walked a long journey for about three days trying to escape from Japanese invasion. By then, she was carrying her three girls in her arms. She began to bleed the weight of her daughters since they were too heavy for her. She fell along the roadside because she was in a delirious pain. No one wanted to take her babies. The moment she saw there was no any other option; she decided to leave her family behind to look if she can manage to find something for them to eat (Tan, 282).

Suyuan left her children in a devastating condition. However, she placed a satiated jewelry under the shirt of one of her daughters and some money in the other. Moreover, she left a note as well as family pictures before living her babies. She fainted along the way and later woke up only to find herself in a truck full of sick people who were being tended by the American missionaries. The moment she arrived at Chungking, she noted that her husband was already dead. It is in this instance when he meets with her while still in the hospital (Tan, 283).

Luckily, the babies were taken by a peasant couple. The old couple raised the girls as their own.  When the girls were at the age of eight years, the adoptive parents tried their best locate their parents. The foster parents tried their best to find the email address of the children’s marital home. However, by then, the home was a factory. Both Suyuan and Canning tried to find the girls, but their efforts did not bear any fruits. In 1949, they migrated to America, but Suyuan still retained the hope that once he will locate her daughters (Tan, 199).

A Pair of Tickets Theme

The theme of appearance and reality is exemplified In Tan’s life. The end part of the novel ends up with a real-life experience from Tan. In 1987, Tan decided to take a visit to her half-sisters in China. At the same time, her mother was in a bad heart condition. Tan had a great desire to know about her heritage when her mother was still alive. During the trip venture, Tan decided to ask her mother about her origin. She answered the question about 1989 interview that was in the New York Times. From that instance, Tan explains “felt a sense of completeness, like having a mother and a father” (Tan, 94).The incident seems to be true when she explained that “There was something about this country that I belonged to. I found something about myself that I never knew there” (Tan, 94).The incidence shows the similarity that existed between Tan’s and Jing-Mei’s life.

Jing-Mei had conflicts that she was forced to resolve. When she was at the age of thirty-six years, her mother died. Moreover, she was not aware that she had step sisters in China. Neither of her parents had ever explained about her real identity.  The foster parents who brought up the twin children were trying to locate their birth parents with the aim of reuniting the family. Canning asked Auntie Lindo to write a letter to the twins in China to inform them that their mother was dead (Tan, 269-271). Moreover, there was no member of the family could explain to her about her identity since all her family members had lost their lives in the war. One the other hand, she is forced to decide whether she was unable to identify where she was a Chinese or an American (Tan, 259). However, she is aware of her identity when her father gave her and her step twin sisters a Polaroid photograph. She noticed that they resembled their mother.

Moreover, there is an instance of irony. In the story, the reader grasps that Jing-Mei became as her mother yet she was not aware about it.  Just as her mother, she likes getting similar services worth her money. She was furious about their hotel booking, and she refers to it as a mistake. She explains “I had explicitly instructed my travel agent to choose something inexpensive, in the thirty-to-forty-dollar range. I’m sure of this’’ Her mother had the same experience when she was dealing with recalcitrant occupants or the native fish traders (Tan, 76-78).

In the story, Jing-Mei is described as a furious character. She explains her feelings in an angry manner when she says, “Well, our travel agent had better be prepared to eat the extra, that’s all I have to say” (Tan, 222).Moreover, she could not tolerate the services offered in the Chinese hotel which was hired by her family members. The character trait also serves as a theme of change in the story.

As the points discussed above suggest, Jing-Mei is not aware of her real identity. She is in the state of personal conflict since she could not determine whether she was a Chinese or an American. She remains in this state until their trip to China where her father decided to tell Jing-Mei and her step sisters about their real identity. Moreover, Jing-Mei accrues her true identity as a Chinese when her father gave them a Polaroid photograph notices that they were alike with their mother. Thus, she determines that her real origin was in China.

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Literary Analysis of Amy Tan's "A Pair Of Tickets". (2019, Oct 10). Retrieved July 2, 2022 , from

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