The Joy Luck Club Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club book cover
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Analyze the following characters:  Lena St. Clair and Ying Ying St. Clair in The Joy Luck Club.   Particularly from the chapter "Waiting Between the Trees."  

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In "Waiting Between the Trees," a chapter in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, the narrator Ying Ying St. Clair describes the marriage of her daughter Lena to Harold.  Harold is a cold man who asks Lena to "share" all the household money and responsibility equally.  He does not take into consideration that he makes more money than Lena makes and when the time comes to split bills, he takes advantage of Lena's passivity.  Ying Ying relates her daughter's loveless marriage to her own bad marriage to a man in China.  She did not really love her first husband, but the marriage was arranged and Ying Ying thought her husband would be happy when they had a son.  However, her husband begins having numerous affairs, so Ying Ying aborts her baby.  From that point on, Ying Ying has a cold place in her heart, and she feels that she was not able to give her daughter any sense of hope or self-worth.  Ying Ying thinks that she did not have any strength left in her to raise Lena properly, and in this chapter, she tells her daughter that she must fight to get more out of her marriage or leave it to find a better one.

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