An individual’s interaction with others and the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging.
Belonging can be influenced in positive and negative ways depending on how someone reacts to the situations. In Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club, the mothers and daughter’s sense of belonging evolves via past experiences and barriers. These barriers can cause a void between the mothers and daughters, which in turn affects the connection achieved between them, their culture and place.
The lack of belonging between Ying Ying and Lena St Clair has arisen from Ying Ying’s past experiences. The impact of Ying Ying’s mental breakdown is significant and affects the entire St Clair family. Alienation of Ying Ying is caused due to her hidden past. Lena and her father consequently do not understand Ying Ying. Lena’s fears are highlighted through sensory imagery; “I had such fears inside, not in my head but in my stomach. I could no longer see what was scary but I could feel it.” The distance between Ying Ying and her family has made the house ‘silent’, due to the lack of communication between the family members. This silence is contrasted to the neighbour’s household, where the mother and daughter are passionately arguing- “I could feel the crashing loud fight on the other side.” The difference between the two families is emphasised by the aural imagery of a “crashing loud fight”, which suggests the neighbours having a connections, although fiery and intense, unlike Lena and Ying Ying who lack any communication. This lack of communication affects their sense of belonging to each other.
Lack of self-acceptance and self-understanding can affect an individual’s sense of belonging to self and their identity. Lena’s lack of acceptance of her physical appearance limits her ability to fully belong to herself. “Instead of having cheeks like my father’s sharp-edged points, mine were smooth as beach pebbles.” The simile of “like my father’s” shows Lena’s...