What is the power of storytelling in The Joy Luck Club?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Storytelling ends up becoming the source of power for the women in Tan's work and those who end up reading Tan's work.  The way in which the mothers end up empowering their daughters is through the power of story.  Tan's style is one where she believes that the expansion of one's moral and ethical imagination is how change can happen.  Rather than provide a feminist critique of patriarchy in China and America, Tan is able to accomplish the same goal through the power of story.  For example, when the mothers tell their own narratives to the daughters, there is a common link that is forged because the scope of the daughters' imagination is widened when they realize that what they are enduring is what their mothers endured.  In this, there is empowerment.  While the daughters are wondering why they are unhappy or why their is sorrow in their lives, examples of consciousness where there should only be happiness and contentment, the power of story is what allows these gaps to be filled.  When the daughters hear of their mothers' experiences in China as young women, it helps to bridge the gap between narratives and also helps to fully explain the suffering in their own life.  In this, the power of storytelling is to help reflect and transform.  The same experience happens to the reader when reading both daughters' and mothers' narratives.  The same condition of wondering what one shall do and where one shall go is evident in the power of storytelling, revealing narratives where the scope of moral and ethical imagination of the reader is widened in understanding their own reality and their own being more.  Through Tan's work, storytelling is both affective and reflective, causing the ability to spark progressive change in one's life.

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alspurpose | (Level 1) eNoter

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Stories are an unique and authentic human experiences. They are timeless links and connects us to a larger self. Stories are how we explain the way things work, how we make decisions, how we justify our decisions, and allow people to communicate. They allow us to show meaning and emotion. Stories help us understand ourselves better.

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