The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is a novel focusing on the relationships that mothers and daughters share. It discusses the struggle to keep a strong bond between mother and daughter and how generation gaps and cultural differences effect these relationships. The novel is split into four parts, two of which are narrated by the daughters and two of which that are narrated by the mothers. The novel revolves around Jing-mei and her mother Suyuan, along with Suyuan's weekly gathering The Joy Luck Club. The gathering consists of three other mothers who are also immigrants from China just like Suyuan. The daughters who narrate the other two parts of the novel are the daughters of the members of the Joy Luck Club. Jing-mei keeps this gathering alive even after her mother dies. Before her death, Suyuan was trying to locate her two twin daughters, Chwun Yu and Chwun Hwa, who she abandoned in China just before she was forced out because of World War II. Jing-mei struggles with the stress of having to find her half twin sisters and telling them the entire life that their mother lived. She worries whether or not she can portray her mothers great life and teach the twins the values and morals her mother taught her. By being the narrator of her mother, since her mother is dead, Jing-mei cements the bond that her and Suyuan share. Jing-mei shares her mothers life throughout the book, which she now has to share with the twins. She needs to cement the bond the twins share with their mother as well. When she finally travels to China, urged mostly by the women in the Joy Luck Club, Jing-mei successfully forges the mother-daughter relationship between Suyuan and the twins. Her journey to China is symbolic to bringing closure to a broken family and the forging of two different cultures.
1. Jing-mei was the first to tell her twin sisters about the life their mother lead. How would you feel if you had to tell a sibling the entire life of your mother and attempt to forge their mother-daughter bond with them as well? Would you have stress knowing that the fate of their relationship rested on your shoulders?
2. Like Jing-mei and Suyuan, have you ever felt a struggle keeping a friendship or strong relationship with your mother? Has a generation gap ever kept you from becoming close?
3. Why do you think it is a good idea to have more than one narrator in a novel?