Language is vitally important to understanding the mother/ daughter relationships in Tan's work. Tan has the daughters understanding bits and pieces of Chinese and the mothers understanding bits and pieces of English to highlight the disparity between both narratives. Both young and old use different ways to linguistically appropriate the world around them and their place in it. The difference in language helps to bring out the difference in cultural perception that both have.
Eventually, both mothers and daughters realize that absorbing the critical life lessons require some cross over in their linguistic and cultural rivers. The mothers have to communicate with their daughters in English. The daughters have to listen to their mothers and understand that what happened in China has relevance to their lives. Both must cross over their differences in order to fulfill their destinies in this life. For both the mothers and the daughters, the issues of cultural and language have to be overcome, if only for an instant, so that both can learn from one another. Mothers have to impart their experience to their daughters, who must learn about their own identities in the past in order to successfully navigate their present and future.