How does Amy Tan relate her opinion of the American Dream in The Joy Luck Club?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Tan views the American Dream as a pursuit of happiness.  She is not repudiating the American Dream.  Yet, it is clear that she is challenging the notion that the American Dream is synonymous with a form of assimilation that rejects cultural identity.  Tan makes it clear that her opinion of the American Dream is a pursuit of happiness that understands how personal and cultural narrative are both inseparable parts of one's identity as well as the pursuit of one's dream.  For Tan, the American Dream for those who are hyphenated Americans involves a form of "living at the hyphen," where one understands that their dreams and pursuits have to be connected with their own sense of identity.  In order to be psychologically happy and content with one's dream, these elements have to be in order.  It is for this reason that Tan does not enable her characters to fully repudiate their past.  They are able to pursue their American Dreams of economic and social successes without rejecting their past or carrying themselves in a way where their past is a burden.  The characters in the work who do this find unhappiness.  The links between cultural and psychological conditions of the past is where Tan sees the American Dream as possible for Chinese- Americans, and the dialectical "other" or the "hyphenated American," in general.

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The Joy Luck Club

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