In this chapter we are introduced to the Joy Luck Club which originated all the way back in China when Jing-Mei Woo’s mother Suyuan was in the city of Kweilin. At the Joy Luck Club a group of old Chinese women sit around and eat and after that they sit down in a table to play a friendly game of Mah-Jong. At the Joy Luck Club there are 4 major members, Lindo Jong, Ying-ying St. Clair, An-Mei Hsu, and Suyuan Woo. In the beginning of the chapter we learn that Suyuan has died and Canning Woo, Jing-Mei’s father and Suyuan’s husband has asked Jing-Mei to take her mothers place at the Mah-Jong meeting.
In this chapter we learn of how Suyuan had lived in China and during the war as the Japanese were slowly invading China, she had to take her family and leave for the city of Kweilin while her husband, Suyuan’s first husband that is, goes off to Chunking to fight the Japanese. In this chapter we learn about the other Mah Jong players, Lindo Jong, mother of the young girl Waverly, Ying-ying, a woman married to a white man and An-Mei Hsu. In the end of the chapter they old ladies tell Jing-Mei how they have contacted her long lost sisters and they want to send her to China to meet them.
The story is quite interesting so far, its interesting to see how the women in this story resemble the way my own Chinese grandmother acts. Its quite funny too actually be able to know what Mah Jong is although I have been so white washed. I was born here in America so all I’ve ever known is American culture and although I look 100% like a Chinese kid would, when I went to visit China for the first time I felt so different from them.
An-Mei Hsu: Scar
We learn how An-Mei’s father is long gone and that her grandmother who has been a predominant figure in her life is slowly dying. While An-Mei is describing her dying Grandmother (Popo), she talks about her real mother who had dishonored the family by going off to marry a man with many wives thereby getting herself disowned by her own family. As the grandmother is dying, An-Mei’s mother comes back and as a last resort, tries to save grandmother by cutting off a piece of her own flesh and sticks it into a soup that she tries to feed to her mother (the grandmother).
I thought it was interesting to see an example of an old Chinese remedy for something. I kind of wonder if that was even a real remedy, rather harsh and repelling if you ask me.
The Red Candle
In this story Lindo, the mother of Waverly Jong, the National Chess Champion talks about her own struggles. In China Lindo was forced to marry a man named Tyan-yu whom she didn’t love at all. When she was finally married to him, she would avoid him and the groom’s mother realized this and hired a marriage counselor type of person to help fix things. The marriage counselor lit a candle and said if it was still lit the next day without going out then the marriage will last forever and even if the groom dies, Lindo may never remarry again. Upset, Lindo tries to blow out the candle and succeeds but the next day the servant lies about the candle not going out. Lindo now becomes desperate and tries to devise lies to help her get out of there and finally succeeds and the husband eventually marries one of the pregnant servants and Lindo is sent to America.
The odd part of this story was how I was able to empathize with the other characters in their discussions of their hardships when they were younger while I couldn’t with Lindo. Maybe I’m biased because of how Lindo is so harsh and headstrong towards the other characters in this story. She in my mind seems to be a great description of the family members in my own life, for they are all harsh and headstrong towards each other.
Ying-ying St. Clair: The Moon Lady
In Chapter 4 we learn about Ying-ying. As a child Ying-ying came from a wealthy family. Unlike she is now Ying-ying was once a very problem child, because she was so spoiled by her family she never thought twice about doing things and because of that she ended up getting lost at what was called “The Moon Festival”. At the Moon festival she watches a play about the Moon Lady whom she takes as the real person but then realizes her own stupidity and leaves the festival and if finally found by her family. An important part of this chapter is how Ying-ying ends it with the words “I wished to be found”. Those words to me tell me how she wants to be closer to her daughter and if granted one wish from the Moon Lady that would be it. Ying-ying doesn’t like how her daughter is ashamed of her and has abandoned all of their Chinese traditions
In the prelude to The Twenty Six Malignant Gates I found it amusing to see how the little girl like all young children are headstrong and seem to think they are impervious to the dangers of real life and she ignores her mothers advice until it is too late when she falls off the bike like her mother said would happen
Waverly Jong- Rules of the Game
In this chapter we learn about Waverly’s life and how her mother has taught her “the art of invisible strength” which has allowed Waverly to do well in life especially in the world of Chess where she became National Chess Champion at a very young age. Waverly however hates her mother for even though she adopted her mother’s quality of “invisible strength” she dislikes everything about her mother from their culture to the way her mother acts. Waverly unlike her mother doesn’t like to brag about herself and is very upset at her mother who is always comparing her child to everyone else’s and using Waverly’s fame to her own advantage.
Lena St. Clair- The Voice from the Wall
This is the second story told from eyes of the daughters. Lena in this chapter describes the life of her mother when she was younger. Lena describes Ying-ying as a paranoid and somewhat psychotic person who married her father Clifford St. Clair, and Englishman who spoke very little Chinese and was found unable to understand what her mother was saying half the time they were together. Towards the end of the story Lena describes what is seems like her mother Ying-ying had a miscarriage and Ying-ying who was already mentally unstable blames the death of the unborn child on herself and becomes even more unstable. In this chapter we learn about Lena’s childhood neighbor who was always getting into fights and because in her own Chinese culture when the children would argue with their elders, the argument would ensue a beating from the parents so she always imagined her neighbor to look very beat up since they seemed to argue all the time but to her astonishment when the neighbor sneaked into her house one day, the young girl was unharmed and that same night could be heard laughing with her mother whom she had an argument with a few hours earlier.
Jing-Mei Woo “2 Kinds”
I thought it was funny to see how Jing-Mei’s mother wanted her daughter to be like “Shirley Temple” but then again it makes sense, Shirley Temple was America’s Sweetheart in the early 90’s so it would be fitting since everyone wants the best for their children. It was also interesting to see June’s interest in piano after watching a Chinese girl play the piano on the television but she quickly lost interest in the piano ever since she found out her teacher was deaf and therefore she stopped practicing.
Lena St. Clair “Rice Husband”
In this chapter we look into Lena’s life and find out that she is married to a white man named Harold. At first they had a true love and enjoyed their life together and decided to share all their costs but lately the marriage has begun to fall apart and the only thing still concrete in their marriage is their sharing of the costs of things they use and that have become the root of most of their problems.
Waverly Jong “Four Directions”
Waverly who is trying to look for a way to tell her mother that she is getting married to her fiancé Rich, takes her mother out for lunch but ends getting scrutinized by her mother like always. With a certain un-eagerness Waverly invites Rich to meet her mother at her mothers house for dinner and although the dinner was a complete disaster for Rich, Waverly in the end found out that her mother did approve of Rich and that event brings all three of them closer together than before. In the beginning of the chapter we learn that Waverly is a smart young child but her mother has an iron grip
on her life and Waverly’s first marriage falls apart completely because of her mother and how she began to see things the way her mother did about her husband.
Rose Hsu Jordan “Without Wood”
Rose for once doesn’t believe what her mother says, which was about her husband Ted cheating on her which he really did do. The husband after filing for divorce tries to bully her but Rose stays strong and is able to keep the house and keep her ex-husband in check.
Jing-Mei Woo “Best Quality”
In this chapter we learn how Suyuan hurts Jing-Mei, enough that Jing-Mei begins to doubt her mothers love for her but when New Years Eve comes along, Suyuan proves Jing-Mei wrong and then Jing-Mei realizes how much her mother really loves her at dinner. Because of her mothers love for her, Jing-Mei never takes off the pendant Suyuan has given her before she died.
An-Mei Hsu “Magpies”
In this chapter An-Mei is taken away to live with her mother. In this chapter both An-Mei and her daughter Rose wonder if their culture has made them weak in the eyes of society. An-Mei was upset at Rose earlier because of Rose’s unwillingness to do anything about her husband request for a divorce. In this chapter we see how Chinese women couldn’t do much with their lives, if they were unhappy all they could do was cry about it so when faced with these types of problems in America, the both of them wouldn’t know what to do although being in America they could do whatever they want.
Ying-ying St. Clair “Waiting Between the Trees”
Ying-ying in this chapter reflects on her childhood and from her mistakes she wants her daughter Lena to learn from. Ying-ying wants her daughter to lead a happy life, that her marriage is going to fall apart and she wants her daughter to be strong when this happens.
Lindo Jong “Double Face”
In this chapter we see the two cultures, the American culture represented by Waverly and the traditional Chinese culture represented by her mother Lindo Jong. Waverly who was uncertain of herself, thinks she’ll be easily seen as a foreigner but Lindo says she won’t be noticed. Later in the chapter both mother and daughter become closer after Lindo decides to ask Waverly why the year before when Lindo went to visit China, that they knew she was a foreigner despite all of her Chinese styles and traditions still in tact with her.
Jing Mei-Woo “A Pair of Tickets”
The last chapter of the book ends with the final daughter and mother couple coming together for Jing is able to finally discover who she really is, for as American she is, she’s also just as much Chinese.