Different themes in the book Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, feed into the reasons as to why many versatile readers have interests in this novel. It captures the hearts of the young and old, American or non-American, and even the immigrants who seek for someone that understands them. The novel portrays four Asian women and their adult Asian-American daughters as they struggle to find themselves in America. The older generation seeks to find their old traditions, customs, and character amongst their daughters who have become clashed with American culture.
And the daughters try to seek their identity and deal with internal conflicts that have to deal with their mothers histories. Tan presents a world in which the characters themselves feel lost even if they are with the own people that raised them or their environment in which they know all about. The Joy Luck Club depicts many hardships such as racism, multiculturalism, and stereotypes, which were encountered when an increase of immigrants came to the Americas from the 1950s to the present.
Amy Tan ties in the relationship between real world problems and incorporates them into her novel to raise awareness toward issues that immigrants continue to face. One problem, which was unavoidable, was racism. In one instance in the book, the mothers of the daughters try to persuade their children that American husbands do no good for the family. Anyone in that family that is American is not good for the family. Waverly’s mother, in an effort to dissuade her daughter from marrying an American, states: “American boy never understand you the way Chinese boy do” (Tan 70).
Waverly’s mother is insistent on pushing what is comfortable for her on to her daughter. In addressing her cultural needs, her mother wants Waverly to understand her wishes for her daughter to marry a man that is in touch with her personal Chinese culture: the tradition. At a critical age in Waverly’s love life, her mother expresses her dislike towards people unlike her. She ultimately wants Waverly to follow family morals also foreshadowing her strained relationship with her mother because of this. Throughout the course of history, racism is one of the main topics that has marked America in the est of ways and also in the worst. The history of Chinese immigration shows that the United States, even in a legal standpoint, was unfair to the treatment of their own citizens. A certain historian highlighted this fact as he said: “As early as the late 19th century, Chinese in the US brought cases to the Supreme Court to protest their unequal treatment because of their race and ethnicity”(Luo). This helps to elaborate on the fact that, It is the consequence of unlawful constitution amendments like quotas that reinforced the racism inflicted on Chinese immigrants.
The immigration laws from the early 1900s, also state that some were unable to apply for citizenship if they were already in the US, therefore giving them the legal position of “aliens” in the US. This affirmed the status of Asians in the United States for many years and there was a constant battle for the continuing right for the Asian now-American community. Equally important in the hardships that an immigrant would be facing, is multiculturalism. It is the meeting of different cultures that threaten to mix together.
Multiculturalism was a problem for the first generation Chinese Americans as they faced the fact that their children were American-ized forever. The effects of mixing the two totally different cultures brought about challenges to the generation that had settled in America. June Woo, one the main characters in the book revered the fears of the mothers’ by stating: And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America.
They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds “joy luck” is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation. (Tan 41) The mothers are essentially afraid that they will lose their daughters to “foreigners” as they once lost their hopes and dreams in a place they once knew as China.
June Woo is expressing the doubt the circle of mothers feel about their children. The mothers who immigrated to America from China still want to raise them the “Chinese way” not losing their culture. One of the mothers says “I wanted my children to have the best combination: American circumstances and Chinese character. How could I know these two things do not mix? ”(Tan). The mothers don’t want their stories of struggle to be lost because of their alienated daughters. But their daughters are “are undergoing a slow death of their own; drowning in American culture at the same time they starve for a past they can never fully understand. (See). The multiculturalization of Chinese-Americans not only affects the elderly, but also the young, who grow up differently than their parents. A younger version of June, wanted to rebel against the bounds that her mother had put on her in terms of her culture and states: “I had new thoughts, willful thoughts, or rather thoughts filled with lots of won’ts. I won’t let her change me” (Tan). This illustrates that she was brought down by the Chinese role her mother had given her since she was little, and the yearning for herself to blend in with the crowd.
While trying to, she couldn’t because “unlike the European emigrants, they had obviously Oriental feature, which made it difficult for them to lose themselves in the American melting pot” (Schell 1). But as June grows up, she tries to find her true identity with her American self and her Chinese part: “She is not aware, however, that it is impossible for her to find her true identity without reclaiming her relationship with her cultural heritage” (Wang). This presents the importance of having a balance of traditional roles, and modern roles in society.
It also illustrates a point that the conflict of the two cultures clashing together to impacts decisions on one’s life. The severity of words always hurt the individual. The stereotype that society places on immigrants limits the lives of many people. The negative stereotypes set back many people in their goals and give people false images about certain groups in society. A social researcher did a study on the assimilation of Chinese-Americans in America and many of the subjects said “racial discrimination, Asian stereotypes, and isolation from their peers were almost a staple in their lives” (Zheng).
Many negative traits given to the Asian population still haunts today, as the backdrop of stereotyping. It explores un-proven ideas about a certain group of people. For example, broken English is something that taunts many immigrants today. As they come to the new country, the difficulty level of speaking another language seems so difficult, that most people take years to learn half of their English vocabulary. In the novel there are many instances that language barriers furthermore separate immigrants from the natives”. Carolyn See, a literary criticism author points out one “What can you tell a mother who thinks she’s getting “so-so security” from the government? ”(See). Tan pokes fun at this but also wants to point out to the reader that although it’s funny, if the reader where to be made fun of also like that, then it evokes feeling of pity. Another wrong stereotype would be that all Asians are high achievers. As many generations come to mix with American cultures, this is the most prevalent of stereotypes.
Like how a young child would act, high expectations are not so likely to be met under pressure by peers, teachers, or even parents. Though seen by many as a positive stereotype, it setbacks many people to live up to expectations they can never have because they are too high or because they want to do something different in life. An example of parent pressure would be June’s mother and what she says when she is comparing her and Waverly. She dictates that June couldn’t have been sophisticated as Waverly, because she didn’t try hard enough as a child because June’s standards were too low (Tan 206).
When growing up, the children of people from the same environments (such as Asia) all find common themes when it comes to stereotyping. The negativity of stereotypes can’t show the versatility a certain group of individuals, instead it groups them into a single uniform group and people think they’re all the same. To many, stereotypes are a good thing because they can also show a lot about a person’s character. In the working world Because of the stereotype that Asians generally excel, most companies are out to seek hardworking Asians.
This boosts the morale of the immigrants and Asian-American because it gives them a job-advantage out of other races/ethnicities. It boosts the morale of Americans, but to other countries as well. In the working world, since business make employees by interviewing them, stereotypes are good in these circumstances. Studies show that the work ethics of Asians are slightly better than compared to other ethnicities. Moreover, another reason as to why stereotypes are a good thing is because People want to break the stereotype that Asians can’t do something because they are a certain way.
Because of the breaking of stereotypes, many Asian individuals seek to have major breakthroughs in other areas other than academics. Because of the breaking of stereotypes, many people have seen immigrants as equals and not just immigrants. So as a result of that, it is now a normal thing to intermarry. Individuals that learn to overcome the troubles of stereotypes, have goals to get rid of any obstacle that prevents them from having setbacks race-related. Amy Tan wrote the book Joy Luck Club as a memoir to her own childhood and to the childhood that her mother had faced when she was in China.
She cried out the things that the characters had said in the novel, and had experienced most of their emotions also. Although she hadn’t expected the success to come right away, it did. People had realized the true value of the book and how true the stories where to their history, and to their own lives. The daughters in story, represented the type of people we are, and it makes us think how we were raised as children. The novel represented how the future’s going be like and how the older generation is always going to have to teach the younger one.
Even if they have a new style of doing things It touched upon themes like racism, stereo types, and multiculturalism because that’s what the future is going to see: An increase of people mixing cultures, the positive side of stereotypes slowly replacing the negative, and racism dying down by the minute.
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