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Different, yet Similar

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"The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan follows the stories of four women who emigrated from China to the United States during World War II, and their American-born daughters. All of the mothers and all of the daughters have very different lives, each accustoming to the American lifestyle as best as possible. However, when they start retelling memories from their childhood, it seems as though all the stories are actually a great one, melted together by their similarities.

All of the stories have a similar mood. The mothers feel nostalgic about their life in China, and cannot completely fit in America. The daughters, on the other hand, always feel misunderstood by their mothers and are often ashamed of their heritage. The general air of discontent and mistranslation is contagious and every relationship feels the sting of it, even though they all try to deny it. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is the same with all the families.

When the mothers tell their stories from China, it can be noticed that all of them suffered at least one kind of tragedy in their young days, and for that had to grow up earlier, perhaps, than most people. Some were forced to marry, some had to abandon their children; nevertheless, they are all bound by their similar past and the road on which they are now. The daughters, although adjusted to American life in many different ways, always feel like they have to impress their mothers, make them proud. For some that means being a chess genius, for others being a piano prodigy. Alas, they never feel they have accomplished that and yearn for their mothers’ approval of their actions.

Albeit strict maternal figures, the mothers can sympathize with their daughters in many occasions, since they have also felt the same way once. They, too, once rebelled against their mothers and saw just the big cloud of misunderstanding. Nonetheless, through different situations, they saw the wisdom behind their mothers’ actions, wisdom their daughters have not yet seen in them. And slowly, but surely, they try to show their daughters that they are not so different after all.

"The Joy Luck Club" is full of stories weaved through with tradition and culture, stories about four strong women who raised their daughters and made it in America. And even though they all have their own takes on life and handle situations differently, one might feel like it is only one story, about a woman who immigrated to the United States, and her Chinese-American daughter.




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