In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tans first novel, short-story-like vignettes alternateback and forth between the lives of four Chinese women in pre-1949 China and lives of their American-born daughters in California. The book is a mediation on the divided nature of this emigrant life. The novel is narrated horizontally as well as vertically; friendships and rivalries develop among the daughters as well as the mothers.(Matuz 92)As Jing Mei Woo describes, 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 Lins 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 when 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 newspapers had printed her name, how many cities she had visited. (95) In Amy Tans novel she shows that the bond between a family is the strongest bond between any type of people.
Tan has written a novel without a central plot but with characters and events that are as powerful as myth, and which often entangle it. The stories of the aunties are interspersed with events involving the daughters, so that China and America come together in fantastic and unconnected succession. Tan lets each woman tell her own story; at the center of each tale is the ferocious love between a mother and daughter. (89) Even though I taught my daughter the opposite, she still came out the same way! Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl. And I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way. (Tan 92)Born in Oakland, California, in 1952 to a father educated as an engineer in Beijing and a mother raised in a well-to-do Shanghai family, Amy Tan grew up in an American world that was far from the childhood world of her parents. (Matuz 92) When pollsters ask people what is most important to happiness, the overwhelming majority give the same response: a good family life. Most individuals need the care, comfort, and security that a resilient, loving family provides. Positivity plays a large part in the dynamics of healthy families. This influence, together with the security a family gains from being well loved, is one of the most compelling justifications for the existence of a family. (Time-Life 120)Anthropologists agree that the family is a central, positive institution in every society. (Ryder 23) As we bog down in the drama of daily living, a focus on the world can be hard to hold on to, but the support of a family helps. Supportiveness may be one of the most valuable tools for relationship building in your family.In healthy, functional family groups, individuals contribute to a peaceful and cooperative co-existence. (Bluestein 89)The distinct closeness that many siblings share forms the basis for what can be a rewarding and supportive lifelong connection. (Time-Life 57) As Jing Mei Woo describes her first time meeting her sisters, And then I see her. Her short hair. Her small body. And that same look on her face. She has the back of her hand pressed hard against her mouth. And I know it is not my mother, yet it is the same look she had when I was five and had disappeared all afternoon, for such a long time she was convinced I was dead, and when I appeared, sleepy-eyed, crawling from underneath my bed, she wept and laughed , biting the back of her hand to make sure it was true. And then I see her again, two of her, waving, and in one hand there is a photo, the Polaroid I sent them. As soon as I get beyond the gate, we run toward each other, all three of us embracing, all hesitations and expectations forgotten. Mama, Mama, we all murmur, as if she is among us. My sisters look at me proudlyAnd now I also see what part of me is Chinese. It is obvious. It is my family. It is in our blood, after all these years, it can finally be let go. (Tan 287)Just because two kids live together or are related doesnt mean they have to like each other. Rivalry between siblings in only part of the story. Even more important is sibling loyalty. Sibling loyalty is apparent in the protective concern of brothers and sisters for one another. Many parents have seen a scolded child turn to a sibling for comfort or support-or have been surprised to find a youngster, usually critical of his rival, suddenly leap to his defense, as though some great injustice had been done. Others have seen an older sibling suddenly grab a younger brother or sister when the smaller child has gotten too close to the top of the stairs. This same protectiveness can extend beyond the home, with the older child backing up the younger one in tense or difficult play situations involving other children. Such moments of solidarity build mutual trust. (Time-Life 76)For younger children, the presence of an older brother or sister also provides a ready role model, a chance to learn from the experience of someone else. Morever, sibling relationships can lay the groundwork for broader social understanding. Teaching children to respect the feelings of others, to share and compete, to forgive and trust. These are necessary lessons, best learned in childhood. For all their fighting, siblings more often than not identify with each other. As kin, they learn about the world together. And when shared experiences begin to accumulate, a sense of loyalty emerges that can deepen into a lifelong bond. Studies have shown that the more closely two people are related, the higher the correlation between their IQs. Biological siblings, for example, usually score closer on IQ tests than do adopted siblings. (26)The vast majority of adults, more than ninety percent, get married. Many people marry out of a desire to share their life together as well as a desire to have children together. (Worth 29) The parent-child bond is one of the strongest. Exactly when bonding occurs has been the subject of several studies. One theory holds that hormonal changes may make new mothers especially receptive during the first few days of an infants life. It is a fortunate thing that parent-child bonding is not confined to a single magical moment. Otherwise a parents relationship with a little one might suffer irreparably should the mother and infant have to be separated during the days and weeks following the birth due to illness. Luckily, for everyone involved, the speed with which bonding occurs does not affect its long-term quality. Once achieved, the parent-child bond deepens as the youngster grows and changes. (Time-Life 43) My mother was a stranger to me when she first arrived at my uncles house in Ningpo. I was nine years old and had not seen her for many years. But I knew she was my mother, because I could feel her pain. (Tan 216) The bond is closely tied to the pride and wonder parents experience when they discover that their heir is able to take those first few wobbly steps or has learned to tie his own laces or can balance on a two-wheeler. The joy and excitement only increase as the child grows and begins responding to life in unique and surprising ways. The bond is closely tied to the pride and wonder parents experience when being with their children. (Time-Life 43)The challenge of unconditional love is not just showing it when your kids grades are great, when their rooms are neat or when they bring the car back on time, but being able to show it when none of this is true. (Bluestein 47) Mrs. Sorci was shouting and crying, You stupid girl, you almost gave me a heart attack. And Teresa was yelling back, I coulda been killed, I almost fell and broke my neck. And then I heard them laughing and crying, crying and laughing, shouting with love. (Tan 115) Is how Lena St. Clair described the fighting of a mother and daughter after the daughter had ran away.As a parent, being able to just listen- hearing and respecting your childs opinions, priorities, and desires is an important aspect of empowerment. All experiences strengthen your childrens perception that they can influence the course of their lives, which is, in the truest sense, what empowerment is all about. (Bluestein 79)Children need security- to know that their calls for food will be answered. Security gives children confidence. (Worth 41) Your mother was a very strong woman, a good mother. She loved you very much, more than her own life, (Tan 39) Auntie Lin tells Jing Mei Woo. Parents may not be able to meet their childrens needs every time, but there are lots of ways to empower children and establish win-win in their family. (Bluestein 79)Parents have always been the most important agents of socialization of their children. Parental influence occurs not in a vacuum, however, but within the framework of the larger society, with which the parents identify. Your childs basic temperate- whether impulsive or reflective, sunny or withdrawn- is partially determined by inherited traits, some of which yield more to molding by environmental factors than others. Many scientists believe that at least half of a childs personality is shaped by hereditary. (Time-Life 26) Mothers raise daughters to confirm to the strictures of the conventional female life as defined by men. (Shannon 56) I was raised the Chinese way: I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other peoples misery, to eat my own bitterness, says Junes mother, spelling out the dangerously congenital nature of this Chinese female submissiveness. (Matuz 92)Unconditional acceptance frees children to discover for themselves who they really are by living with various experiences long enough to see how well their choices work for them. Kids who have their needs met in healthy, constructive ways by their parents, may be less inclined to numb themselves with substances or compulsive behavior than kids that dont. (Bluestein 82)For most mothers and fathers, the rewards of parenthood far outweigh the debits. Many report an enhanced sense of maturity and self-esteem. They often talk of their children as the previously missing link that ultimately strengthens their relationship. Most powerful of the rewards, and the most difficult to describe, are the ineffable feelings of love that bind mothers and fathers to their children. First comes the momentous transition to parenthood. Both husband and wife are entering a new stage in their lives, one fundamentally different from those that have gone before. Now they must think first not of themselves, but of the welfare of another human being. (Time-Life 38)Lindo Jong tells her daughter a story about trusting your mother. Do not ride your bicycle around the corner, the mother had told the daughter when she was seven.
Why not! protested the girl.
Because then I cannot see you and you will fall down and cry and I will not hear you.
How do you know Ill fall? whined the girl.
It is in a book, The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates, all the bad things that can happen to you outside the protection of this house. I dont believe you. Let me see the book.
It is written in Chinese. You cannot understand it. That is why you must listen to me.
What are they, then? the girl demanded. Tell me the twenty-six bad things.
But the mother sat knitting in silenceWhat twenty-six! shouted the girl.
The mother still did not answer her.
You cant tell me because you dont know! You dont know anything! And the girl ran outside, jumped on her bicycle, and in her hurry to get away, she fell before she even reached the corner. (Tan 88) Parenthood has traditionally existed within the context of the family. It is the key which unlocks the gate to other social roles and participation in society. Social parenthood emphasizes the significance of the emotional relation and commitment to children. (Shannon 44)The Joy Luck Club is a book about relationships between families. The book portrays how families stick together between hard times and how the bond they share always stands strong. Work Cited Page1. Blankenhorn, David. Fatherless in America. New York: Basic Books, 1995.
2. Bloomingdale, Teresa. Up a Family Tree. New York: Doubleday and company, 1981.
3. Bombeck, Erma. Motherhood, The Second Oldest Profession. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1983.
4. Bluestein, Jane. Parents Teens and Boundaries. Florida: Health communication, 1993.
5. The Editors of Time-Life Books. Family Ties. Virginia: Time Life Books, 1987.
6. Matuz, Roger. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1989.
7. Ryder, Verdene. Parents and Their Children. Illinois: The Goodheart-Willcox company, 1985.
8. Shannon, Thomas. Surrogate Motherhood. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1988.
9. Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.
10. Worth, Richard. The American Family. New York: Franklin Watts, 1984.
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