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Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club tells the story of four Chinese women in San Francisco who come together to play mah jong and invest in stocks. They also speak their stories to one another, sharing with the only people they believe will understand. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club, and in this novel Amy Tan allows these characters to tell their stories. The novel is more complex than this, however, for the daughter of one of the original four replaces her mother upon that mother's death, and she now begins to hear these stories she has not had the privilege to hear until now. The entire experience becomes a melding of generations and the opportunity for understanding across generations, showing the younger woman how she is linked not only to her mother but to the experience of an entire people, her people.

Amy Tan was born in 1952 in Oakland, and to a great extent this novel may be seen as her story and the story of her mother. She is herself a member of the culture she describes in the novel, and the time period of that novel covers the history of a certain immigrant experience in this century as Chinese fleeing the terrors of the Revolution came to the United stats seeking peace and a better life. Yet, as can be seen in this novel, they never lose their ties to their homeland and may gather together in order to preserve that culture to the degree possible and to celebrate it as the four women do as they play mah jong and talk each week.

The story is not linear, since it involves memory, recollections, and anecdotes told by the women who meet each week. In addition, there is a dual time layer in the mere fact of generational differences as the young woman takes the place of the older woman and meets with peers of her mother on the common ground of the Joy Luck Club. One generation speaks to another and is able to do so across the gulf that usually separates the generations. The Joy Luck Club tells the story on...

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Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:15, May 28, 2020, from