The American Dream is something all immigrants dream of achieving when arriving to the United States. But what exactly is the American Dream? Some believe it to be the long-term achievement of a goal through hard work, while others see it as a new opportunity to redo life. The emphasis and interpretation of the American Dream changes between generations because it evolves with a sense of individuality in the new era of citizens, as they lack the background that deprived older generations their rights, which made them crave success and achievement when arriving to America, as illustrated by the relationship of Suyuan and Jing-Mei Woo.
Mother knows best. And yet so many daughters in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club feel slighted by what the matriarchal figures in their lives have in mind for them, or rather, what they believe their mothers have in mind for them. A perfect storm of expectation, true and false, about love, about success, about being Chinese. The souring of mother-daughter relationships in The Joy Luck Club stem from unrealistic or ill conceived expectations that both parties hold for the other.
It consisted of sixteen related stories about the experiences of four Chinese-American mother-daughter pairs. According to Dong in Reading Amy Tan, “Daisy’s tragic experiences directly inspired the stories of the characters An-mei Hsu and Suyuan Woo in The Joy Luck Club” (Dong 3). The character Suyuan Woo in The Joy Luck Club was a woman who was born into a wealthy family, married an officer in the army, and gives birth to twin girls; she later lost this family during the Sino-Japanese war. Suyuan narrated, “The man who was my husband brought me and our two babies to Kweilin because he thought we would be safe. He was an officer with the Kuomintang” (Tan 21).
Daughter named Jing Mei was born Chinese prodigy with an high expectation from her mother. "America was where all my mother's hope lay" (18). The mother viewed her daughter with an high hope of prosperous. Seeking only through her own thought, it started to become transparent of mother's cultural identity on having a thriving child for her generation. "Only two kinds of daughters.. those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind" (24).
This disagreement quickly became a source of resentment and anger for both of them, but Jing-Mei and her mother were unable to resolve this conflict because of their different backgrounds and experiences. The story showcases how relationships between mothers and daughters can be strained because of differences in culture and a lack of communication. One of the difficulties between Jing-Mei and her mother is their different cultural backgrounds, which is supported by two points from the story. Firstly, Jing-Mei and her mother both disagreed on the opportunities that existed in America. According to Singer, Amy Tan uses “two entirely
On the other hand, being born into this country, Jing-mei is against wanting to live up to the expectations her mother sets on her. Two kinds reveal two different sides of the cultural spectrum, and their opposing view towards their values. Jing-mei 's mother felt like an outcast existing in a dominate population. Grasping the same idea, she held onto her hard time back in her home. Jing-mei is her last hope to prove that her homeland can be just as talented as Americans.
“After losing everything in China…She never looked back with regret. ”(Chunk 1 ¶3). Jing-Mei’s mother is a Chinese immigrant with the typical ‘everything is better in America’ mindset. Jing-Mei, being raised in America, had more of an American mindset. “You want me to be someone i’m not…I’ll never be the daughter you want me to be!”
Joseph Campbell's definition of a hero’s journey can be seen across many characters in the novel, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. In order to meet this definition, one must overcome three stages: the department, the fulfilment, and the return. Tan depicts Jing-mei Woo as a shell of a woman who is forced to take up the footprints of her late mother. She then learns the meaning of family and is able to fulfil her mother’s dying wish by resurrecting her past life in China, which allows her to complete Campbell's definition of a hero’s journey.
Tan believes that the American dream is not one relative dream but a dream that evolves and grows through generations. Tan uses her belief to impact the reader and the characters. Ni Kan’s mother never realized her dream because her dream was outdated and needed to change. Amy Tan expresses her opinion on the American dream and how it is a relative term through the mother-daughter relationship in her short
Since the beginning of time in the United States, the idea of the American Dream has had a heavy influence on society. According to Document C, American Dream is defined as earning enough money to be happy, obtaining a worry-free lifestyle, and running in a high social circle. While working Americans still hold on to the hope of the American Dream, individuals from other countries often move to the United States with the hope that they too may have a piece of the pie. Despite the novelty and allure of the American Dream, it is nothing more than false hope. The American Dream is unachievable in the United States because no matter how hard one works or how hard one tries to save money, the American Dream is simply not accessible to those that begin with nothing.
Jing Mei, while portrayed as an obedient child, is only willing to listen to her mother to a certain extent. Throughout the story, it is consistently hinted that Jing Mei would eventually explode against her mother as an attempt to free herself from her mother’s chains. In addition, after the fiasco at the piano recital, she eventually derives further from her mother’s wishes as she “didn 't get straight A...didn 't become class president...didn 't get into Stanford...dropped out of college.” (54). On the flip side, Jing Mei’s mother is a stereotypical Chinese parent who is fully determined to ensure her daughter’s success in a new environment.
The fall of Hong Kong gives this couple some spaces to live together, to have an ordinary life. As the poem from the Book of Song says, humans are not able to control all the events, "but through natural turns of events and against all expectations" (Louie 23), the couple holds each other 's hands and gets married. Chang gives the story rather a happy ending, Fan Liuyuan is able to marry the woman he loves, and Liusu gets remarried, she gains back her social status. However, many scholars question that if wealth and social status are all Liusu desires. She achieves what the society expects of her, but maybe this is not what she desires in her deepest heart.
Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club is an amazing representation of what Chinese immigrants and their families face. The broad spectrum of the mothers’ and daughters’ stories all connect back to a couple of constantly recurring patterns. These patterns are used to show that how the mothers and daughters were so differently raised affected their relationships with each other, for better and for worse.