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Joy Luck Club Essay Thesis

  • 1

    Consider the various factors contributing to the rift between each mother and daughter. How much of the miscommunication and misunderstanding is a result of cultural differences, and how much is the result of generational differences? Include any other contributing factors.

  • 2

    The novel often focuses attention on how the mothers instruct their daughters and influence their decisions. Focus instead on the daughters: what do they teach their mothers, and how do they affect their mothers' decisions?

  • 3

    Does Jing-mei succeed or fail to honor and/or fulfill her mother's legacy? If she succeeds, how in detail does she do so? If she fails, what would she have to do in order to succeed?

  • 4

    Explore the ways that both Chinese and American superstition drive the characters' thoughts and choices. Does superstition help the generations connect, or does it separate them?

  • 5

    Consider the legacy of the original Joy Luck Club begun by Suyuan Woo in war-torn Kweilin. Were the group's original intentions carried through to its second incarnation in San Francisco? Can the spirit of the Joy Luck Club be maintained now that Suyuan Woo has died? Will it vanish with the mothers' generation? Does it fulfill a need for the younger generation, or does something else now fulfill that generation's needs?

  • 6

    Consider how violence and pain manifest themselves in each generation, and to what end. According to Tan's presentation, is suffering an integral part of understanding one's heritage, or is it just an unfortunate side effect of digging into the past?

  • 7

    Although much of the plot of each story revolves around men, The Joy Luck Club as a whole centers on the relationships between mothers and daughters. How would the book differ if the Chinese characters were fathers and sons instead? What do the characters find particularly female about their life experiences and points of view?

  • 8

    How do the generations differ in their ideas about love and family? How does each difference manifest itself in the way each generation deals with issues such as marriage, divorce, and child rearing?

  • 9

    Lindo Jong says that one always sacrifices part of oneself by putting on one's "American face" or one's "Chinese face." What do you think defines each of these faces, and what is lost when the wearer dons each one?

  • 10

    How do buildings and other enclosed spaces express the importance of family or other themes in the novel? Consider the caves of Kweilin, the estate of Wu Tsing, the home of Suyuan and Canning Woo, the multilevel house of Suyuan Wu, the Huang estate, and the hotel where Jing-mei and her family stay in Guangzhou.

  • 11

    Pick at least one mother-daughter pair, and examine to what degree each has fulfilled the American Dream. How does the importance and/or definition of the American Dream change between generations?

  • 12

    Examine the symbolism of games in this novel. How does the game of Mah Jong relate to the mothers' perspectives on life? How does this differ, for example, from the way Waverly Jong thinks about chess?

  • The American Dream in The Joy Luck Club Essay

    1808 Words8 Pages

    The American Dream can mean a number of different things to number of different people. Over the years this ideal has evolved and its definition will continue to change for many more years to come. What has not changed is the desire to achieve this dream. For decades now, people from all over the world have immigrated to the United States with hopes of obtaining this dream. However it seems that, to many immigrants the American dream has a very different and more modest definition. To many foreigners it means having the basic necessities in life and giving their children opportunities and life they ever had. Immigration can be a good and a bad thing. On one hand the overall standard of living is better but on the other hand it is almost…show more content…

    As she recalls back on this time by telling her daughter what she calls her Kweilin story, Suyuan describes her feeling during this horrible time as “And inside I was no longer hungry for the cabbage or the turnips of the hanging rock garden. I could only see the dripping bowels of an ancient hill that might collapse on top of me. Can you imagine how it is, to want to be neither inside nor outside, to want to be nowhere and disappear?” (22) At this point in her life Suyuan was separated from her husband who is in the military and eventually is forced to abandon her two young daughters. This aspect of Suyuan’s life parallels the life of Amy Tan’s mother. Daisy tan was also married to a military man during the Chinese Civil War and like Suyuan was forced to abandon her two daughters in Shanghai. This was an experience that would affect her mother for the rest of her life and a story she would continue to tell and never forget. The life of Amy Tan is also a parallel to the life of Jing-Mei Woo of “June”. As a young girl June was forced to play the piano and practice constantly to become the best like Amy Tan was as a child. Along with playing the piano Suyuan also had high expectations for June as far as her future. She wanted her daughter to be the best in her class and go off to medical school to become a well educated doctor, the same expectation’s Amy Tan’s mother had for her. Both daughters decided to follow their dreams and

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