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Cultural Differences In The Joy Luck Club English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 664 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, a novel consisting of vignettes told by various narrators, Tan tells the story of four Chinese immigrant families; the families consist of the Woo family, Hsu family , Jong family, and St. Clair family. This novel centers on the problems the families deal with as immigrants and the conflicts the mothers’ face with their daughters when their daughters have adapt to American culture and have lost Chinese values. In this novel, the four mothers strive to teach their daughters Chinese aspects of life but the daughters have adapt to American culture. The daughters have trouble following their Chinese heritage because it challenges their adaption to American tradition.

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saying that she let Waverly know how American life and Chinese life differ. If you are born in America you have benefits, if you hurt yourself there is always immediate medical attention, and if there are any legal issues there is always a solution. Basically she is saying that in America you have freedom while in China there are always moral codes of listening to your elders. You must obey your parents and you also must pursue the greatest of challenges. The day before, she told Waverly to finish her coffee and don’t throw away her blessing, Waverly replies, “Don’t be so old-fashioned, Ma. I’m my own person” (254). Waverly is saying she can do whatever she wants, she is her own person and no one can control her. This makes Lindo think to herself when her daughter has become so independent. Her independence connects to her American culture because it relates to the idea of freedom and how in Chinese culture the children must obey their parents.

Jing-Mei talks about how she has let her mother down so many times, she says, “I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I could only be me” (142). Jing-Mei is saying how she is a disappointment to her mother. Since she is Americanized she does not take Chinese culture seriously so she gives up and stops listening to her mother. She did not get straight As, she did not become class president, nor did she get into Stanford; she did not even finish college. Jing Mei use to play piano when she was younger but after playing dreadfully at a talent show she gave up. In a dispute between her parents she yells, “You want me to be someone that I’m not!” (142). She is saying that her mother is expecting too much out of her. She expects Jing-Mei to be a piano prodigy while she knows that she cannot be what they want her to be. In Chinese culture parents expect their children to be successful and this is what Jing-Mei’s mother is doing. They expect too much out of her and she cannot handle the pressure on her. After Jing-Mei says

that, her mother yells, “Only two kinds of daughters, those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind!” (142). What Jing-Mei’s mother means is there are only two types of children, those who listen and obey their parents and those who want freedom and do whatever they want. Jing-Mei wants to be what she wants and does not want the pressure from her mother to be what she wants her to be. This ties in with cultural differences because since Jing-Mei is Americanized she has the will to do what she wants and have her freedom, even though she is Chinese she is not accustom to the Chinese way; therefore, she does not follow its values.

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Cultural customs of Americans and Chinese differ in numerous ways. In this novel, Amy Tan through vignettes tells stories of the struggles between mothers and their daughters and how they have confliction accepting each other’s cultural values. The four mothers struggle to teach their daughters Chinese aspects of life because they have adapted to American culture. The daughters have trouble following their Chinese heritage because it contradicts their adaption to American tradition.


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