How did Ying-ying get the ability to predict the future in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, Tan tells the stories of four mothers and their four daughters. One of the mothers is Ying-Ying. As a child and a young woman, she was pampered, somewhat reckless, greatly loved by her mother, and an innocent. The night after her youngest aunt's wedding, Ying-Ying "began to know a thing before it happened."

After most of the wedding guests had left, and Ying-Ying's half-sisters were asking her about who she wanted to marry when...

...a large wind blew in from the north and the flower on the table split from its stem and fell at my feet...Right then, I knew I would marry this man.

There are other occasions when knowledge comes to Ying-Ying before it happens, before anyone else knows. When she becomes pregnant the first time, she knows it is a boy. Ying-Ying knows before she reads her youngest aunt's letter that her first husband is dead, and she knows when she meets Saint ("Mistah Saint Clair") that she will marry him.

It seems that Ying-Ying's ability to know the future (as she believes) came to her on the north wind that first night. It brought her the knowledge to know who she would marry. It also (she believes) was the same strong cold wind that would eventually carry her first husband away from her—which happens when he leaves her for another woman.

Read the study guide:
The Joy Luck Club

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