Belonging In Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

676 Words3 Pages
Lost in Translation

For first generation Americans, finding belonging in a new country can feel impossible. They are often caught between the traditions and ideals of the two differing countries. Raising a family in the new home with different values can lead to miscommunications or even a significant disconnect between parents and children. This is modeled well in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, particularly in the relationship between Ying Ying Saint Clair and her daughter Lena. The prejudice Ying Ying Saint Clair feels for American culture causes her to have a difficult time understanding and communicating with her daughter.

Because Ying Ying Saint Clair was raised in China, she views western ways as valuing worthless material items and ignoring critical traditions and values. As she watches her daughter mature and make her
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Ying Ying never learned to speak her mind or to control the path of her own life. As she watches Lena make the same mistake of passivity, she internally struggles to tell Lena what she sees. “I want to tell her this: We are lost, she and I, unseen and not seeing, unheard and not hearing, unknown by others.” (Tan 67) Ying Ying lived through a terrible marriage that left her voiceless. She lamented the loss of her unfaithful husband and despite her knowledge of her blamelessness. Her experiences taught her a valuable lesson to respect oneself and to fight for one's beliefs, a lesson she must pass on to her daughter. “So this is what I will do… I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter's tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose...I will win and give her my spirit because this is the way a mother loves her daughter” (Tan 252). This resolution is particularly difficult for Ying Ying to come to as she and her daughter have not developed a deep rapport through their
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