Joy Luck Club Mother Daughter Relationship

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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. One dynamic that false expectation strains is the relationship between Suyuan and her daughter Jing-Mei. In a vignette told from the perspective of the latter, Suyuan has the notion that Jing-Mei should be able to perform something at the level of a prodigy. She begins …show more content…

Lena describes her mother as being very timid and apathetic to her circumstances, especially after she loses a baby. Although she is always technically around, Ying-Ying is a very absent mother to Lena. Lena realizes this upon observing the life of her neighbor, a girl about her age named Teresa, who comes from a loud Italian family. Lena believes that Teresa’s mother is going to kill her, as they are always yelling at each other. However, upon talking to Teresa, Lena finds out that they yell at each other so much because Teresa can be reckless, and her mother cares about her well being. Says Lena, “‘Won’t she be mad when she finds you?’ ‘Nah, she’ll just be glad I’m not dead or something’”(114). . In observance of this situation, Lena begins to wonder how Teresa thinks of her. She says: “Maybe she had listened through the walls and heard nothing, the stagnant silence of our unhappy house” (114). Lena is associating the loudness of her neighbor’s home with the love she expects from her own mother, and the silence of her house so strongly opposes that which she expects. This stark contrast of home lives showcases how different cultures approach motherhood, which really reinforces the idea of being American versus being Chinese that is explored so much in this novel. Lena desperately wants her mother to understand the expectations associated with motherhood in America, and doesn’t understand why her relationship with her mother is so much more broken than her peers’ relationships. Without these expectations from both Lena and Ying-Ying about how it is acceptable to mother, their relationship would have endured significantly less

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