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Sacrificing Happiness

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Sometimes, sacrifice is more than just a part-time job. It can be a self-made life sentence, where escaping is not an option. In The Joy Luck Club, the vignette “The Red Candle” shows Lindo Jong’s struggles of balancing happiness and her role of being the perfect wife and daughter. Disobeying the rules set for women that she had been taught from a young age would cause disappointment in her family, so she did her best to hide herself and fulfill her role. Lindo Jong’s sacrifice for maintaining peace within family is developed from her adherence to feminine expectations.

Lindo hides her unhappiness of the arranged marriage because she knows that it was for her family’s satisfaction of having a perfect daughter and wife. “‘Obey your family. Do not disgrace us,’ she said. ‘Act happy when you arrive. Really, you’re very lucky.’” (Tan, 54) She is told how to feel toward people who will become part of her family, and she doesn’t want to disappoint. Lindo feels the need to be obedient and take her place in terms of the house–which is to be the female; don’t speak of herself, just take it. “…Huang Taitai hurried me upstairs…a place where family children usually didn’t go. This was a place for cooks and servants. So I knew my standing” (Tan, 55). Lindo is going to be the wife of Huang Taitai’s son, who believed Lindo had the worth equivalent to people just there to either make food or take orders. Her being a wife would make her a servant to her king, but she never speaks against it. This comes from her belief that she shouldn’t have a say, and that her happiness should come from her family’s satisfaction.

The Red Candle was supposed to be a bond between two lovers, but for Lindo, she saw it as watching her freedom fading and her place in marriage sealed. “That candle was a marriage bond that was worth…I couldn’t divorce, I couldn’t ever remarry, even if Tyan-yu died…I stayed up all night crying about my marriage” (Tan, 59). Though she had been taught the basics of what was expected of her, reality finally hit her after the candle resembled her imprisonment in the marriage. Lindo cried, because she didn’t want to upset family about being an ungrateful wife, and also since she didn’t want the marriage. “I made the Huangs think it was their idea to get rid of me, that they would be the ones to say the marriage contract was not valid.” (Tan, 63) Lindo knew she couldn’t stay; she just was not fit emotionally to do so, and her way of escaping was not through her talking out of it. Lindo couldn’t talk anyway, she was in a lower place than everyone, being the wife. She had to make the family decide, and because they made the decision to make her leave, it would keep the peace. She wouldn’t be blamed, and Lindo saw that she could make her way out of the marriage without disappointing people.

Lindo Jong escaped her imprisonment in the marriage without causing chaos, and while staying in her place. While she was the wife, she cooked, cleaned, tried to have children, and never talked back to Tyan-yu. Her sacrifice toward her family came out of the stereotypes of females, to be an obedient daughter and wife. She was able to slide out of the marriage, because she knew how her place worked–she shows a problem, and lets the upper people in the family talk and make decisions, which is also peace because she doesn’t actually ever talk.  

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