Discuss the terms "hulihudu" and" heimongmong" in Joy Luck Club. How did Rose show she acquired some "wood"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The terms "hulihudu" and "heimongmong" are Chinese words indicating confusion.  Rose says that the closest translation for "hulihudu" would be "confused", and "heimongmong" might be best described as "dark fog".  In describing her emotions while working through a painful divorce, Rose realizes she has "been feeling 'hulihudu'", or confused; "everything around (her) seem(s) to be 'heimongmong'", or a dark fog.

Rose's mother once told her that she was confused all the time because she was "without wood...born without wood so that (she) listened to too many people".  Her mother says that the only way for a young girl to "grow strong and straight" is to listen to her mother, and that if she chooses to listen to others, she will only "grow crooked and weak".  Caught between American influences and her Chinese upbringing, Rose is confused by her mother's advice.  Her ambivalence has left her truly "without wood", and she lacks the confidence to assert herself and say what is on her mind.

Rose's husband Ted wants a divorce so he can marry someone else.  He condescendingly and coldheartedly dictates what he wants the terms of the divorce to be, and expects Rose to quietly sign the papers and accede to his wishes.  When Rose decides to fight back, defying her husband and asserting her opinion on what she wants as well, she shows that she has acquired some "wood" ("Without Wood").

lucyfang | Student

According to ancient Chinese philosophy, the world is composed of five basic elements, which are gold, wood, water, fire and earth. Lacking either one of them might lead to a personal flaw.  If someone has no wood, that means she or he doesn't have backbones or bends too easily to others opinions.

In the last conversation with her husband, Rose didn't let her husband take away the house and get whatever he wants, instead, she fought back. She rejected her husband's request, listened to her heart and mind, and made her decision to stay.

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The Joy Luck Club

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