In Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck Club, what are the themes, the tones, and the narrative styles of the chapter titled "Half and Half"?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club, the chapter titled “Half and Half” is narrated by Rose Hsu Jordan. Some of the themes, tones, and narrative styles of the chapter might be described as follows:


  • Religious faith, its loss, and the “imbalances of life.”
  • Conflicts of values, as in Rose’s plan to divorce and her assumption that her mother will oppose divorce.
  • Interracial dating and marriage as well as racial prejudice.
  • Tensions between allegiance to the culture of one’s parents and the culture in which one has grown up.
  • Tensions between male and female roles, especially when a male dominates.
  • Developing tensions in a marriage.
  • Premature death and the tragedy it can cause in the lives of survivors.
  • The inability to recover (or recover from) the past.
  • Family relations, especially when trying to cope with premature death.
  • A mother’s intense love for her children.
  • Despair, horror, and the relation between faith and fate. At one point, for instance, the narrator describes her mother’s reaction to the accidental drowning of her infant son, Bing:

My mother had a look on her face that I’ll never forget. It was one of complete despair and horror, for losing Bing, for being so foolish as to think she could use faith to change fate.

  • The complex nature of fate and the impact of fate on our lives.



  • Irony, as when the narrator reports that a Bible her mother claims not to notice has been kept spotlessly clean “for over twenty years.”
  • A tone of familiarity, as in the use of “you.”
  • Indignation, as when the narrator describes the racial prejudice to which she was subjected.
  • Tragedy and pathos, as in the description of the accidental death of a child.



  • Personal reminiscence.
  • Dialogue to emphasize crucial moments and distinct cultures.
  • Extensive description of geography (the beach in particular).




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