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Mother/Daughter Relationships In The Joy Luck Club

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Mother/daughter relationships are a significant aspect of the Joy Luck Club. Characteristics of each mother/daughter relationship relate to the four main themes of the novel. These being, parent/child conflict, the discovery of identity, the idea of balance and harmony as well as the use of symbolism. An example of one mother/daughter relationship in the Joy Luck Club, is that of Lindo and Waverly Jong.

One of the main themes highlighted in the relationship of between Lindo and Waverly Jong, is that of parent/child conflict.

Lindo and Waverly were both brought up in different cultures. Lindo, experienced a rich Chinese upbringing where as Waverly’s was a mixture of Chinese and Western culture. Throughout the novel, these cultural differences cause significant conflict between Lindo and Waverly.

Waverly finds her mother’s Chinese ways old fashioned and embarrassing. An example of this, is when Waverly takes her mother to have a hair cut. “Auntie An-mei can cut me” Lindo suggests. This cultural conflict between Eastern and Western society which is clearly evident in the relationship of Lindo and Waverly Jong, cannot be prevented as it is a result of their different upbringings.

The main conflicts which arise between Lindo and Waverly are based on Waverly’s ability to play chess. Lindo’s pride and attempt to live through her daughter is what drives Waverly to give up chess. Her mother’s boastful ways leave her embarrassed and angry. “I wish you wouldn’t do that, telling everybody I’m your daughter:” This conflict remains unresolved for a very long time, significantly contributing to the communication problems of their relationship.

Lindo and Waverly have great difficulty in relating to one another, due to their lack of communication in the past. Thus causing conflict throughout the progression of their relationship. This can be seen when Waverly tries to tell Lindo of her marriage. Waverly finds this extremely difficult, as she feels overpowered by her mother.

As it can be seen, there are many aspects of Lindo and Waverly’s relationship, which significantly reflect with the idea of parent/child conflict.

The theme of discovering identity is played on many times by Amy Tan through the relationship of Lindo and Waverly Jong.

When Lindo first came to America, she wanted Waverly to have “˜the best combination: American circumstances and Chinese character.’ Introducing the idea of combining the two cultures in one, the best possible combination.

Growing up in a Western society with Chinese up bringing makes it very hard for Waverly to find her true identity. She becomes trapped between the two cultures, Chinese on the outside, yet American on the inside. As Lindo once told Waverly, “When you go to China, you don’t even have to open your mouth, they already know you are an outsider.” The idea of an “˜inferior western culture’ is constantly accentuated through Lindo’s behaviour. For example, when she goes out to lunch with Waverly. However, there are some aspects of Western culture, which Lindo does appreciate. As she once told her daughter, “In America, nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.” Mainly expressed through the combining of Eastern and Western cultures, the discovery of identity is a significant aspect of Lindo and Waverly Jong’s relationship.

The idea of seeking a balanced harmonious life can be particularly applied to the relationship of Lindo and Waverly Jong. Certain aspects of Lindo and Waverly’s relationship had always been unharmonious. Mainly due to their lack of communication, their relationship began to fall into a state of disharmony. It led Waverly to create a false, overpowering interpretation of Lindo. This unharmonious relationship was greatly highlighted when Waverly gave up chess.

Lindo and Waverly began to develop an unusual relationship based on inferior and superiority. As Waverly once described Lindo, “what she does always comes as a shock, exactly like an electric jolt, that grounds itself permanently in my memory.” A great amount of disharmony is experienced when Waverly first confronts her mother. Waverly comments, “I had gone from being angered by her strength, to being amazed by her weakness”.

Harmony is eventually regained in their relationship when Lindo and Waverly realise they both posses “˜Two faces’. They are neither simply Chinese nor American, but both a mixture of the two cultures. By realising their similarities, Lindo and Waverly are able to place their differences aside and thus regain harmony in their relationship.

Amy Tan’s Use of Symbolism in the Joy Luck Club provides a reader with a deeper understanding of the events in the novel. This use of symbolism can be greatly seen through the relationship of Lindo and Waverly Jong.

Lindo manages to teach Waverly aspects of Chinese Culture through symbolism of every day life, for example, the sugarplum incident. From this, Waverly learned to “bite back her tongue” and thus, using this technique, win many games of chess as well as cope with day-to-day life. Lindo also symbolically teaches Waverly many other techniques such as “the strongest winds cannot be seen” and to “Blow from the South”¦ the wind leaves no trail”. A close relationship can be seen between the game of chess and the relationship of Lindo and Waverly.

The use of symbolism in the title of Waverly’s first chapter, “˜Rules of the Game’ reflects not only the idea of chess, but also the relationship breakdown between her and Lindo. This use of symbolism reveals to the reader some of the hidden meanings within the plot.

The use of symbolism in the title of Lindo’s last chapter, “˜Double face’, reflects the idea of her and Waverly being a mix of both American and Chinese cultures.

As it can be seen, the use of symbolism provides the reader with a deeper understanding of the Lindo and Waverly’s relationship.

As it can be seen, Mother/daughter relationships are a significant aspect of the Joy Luck Club. The relationship of Lindo and Waverly Jong closely relates to the main themes of the novel, parent/child conflict, the discovery of identity, the idea of balance and harmony as well as the use of symbolism.

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