Critical Analysis of The Joy Luck Club
A Novel of Overcoming Differences
Amy Tan, an American woman of Chinese descent wrote her first novel in 1989. This was The Joy Luck Club, a novel about the relationships between intercultural mothers and daughters. Tan’s mother and trip to China inspired her to write this emotional and rich story. The Joy Luck Club is a narrative of the connection between family and the memories that change a person forever.
The Joy Luck Club focuses on four Chinese American families who start a club, called “The Joy Luck Club.” The four women come together every week to play a Chinese game, Mahjong, and feast on various foods. The Joy Luck Club is organized into sixteen different stories told by seven narrators. Each woman, both mothers and daughters, share stories about their lives and childhoods. Every person has been affected by a tragedy, like the death of a child, an abusive husband, or a horrible arranged marriage. These experiences have impacted each person differently.
As the novel opens, Jing-Mei Woo’s mother, Suyuan has just died from an aneurysm. She is asked by her mother's three friends to take Suyuan's place in their Mahjong group and their "Joy Luck Club". The novel continues as the three other women, An-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-Ying St. Clair and their daughters, Rose Hsu Jordan, Waverly Jong, and Lena St. Clair, tell their stories. Throughout the novel, Jing-Mei Woo tries to piece together the stories her mother is no longer able to tell. An-Mei Hsu’s mother abandoned her when she was little, which scarred her for life. An-Mei is worried that her lack of strength is affecting her daughter’s determination. Lindo and Waverly Jong have a very rocky relationship that strengthens and grows over the novel. Lena St. Clair tries to care for her bizarre mother, while her mother recounts a secret history that has allowed her to see more deeply than her daughter imagines. Each and...