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The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan

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How does Jing-mei win the disagreement over the piano lessons?

Jing-mei "wins" the disagreement over the piano lessons by bringing up her mother's past pain. This stuns Suyuan, and she backs out of the room in defeat.

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Jing-mei ultimately "wins" the disagreement over the piano lessons by using her mother's pain against her.

Jing-mei's mother, Suyuan, is convinced that her daughter is a prodigy whose talents only need to be discovered. Jing-mei is forced to endure various investigative means to uncover those talents until her mother finally decides that the piano will be her daughter's great talent. Jing-mei becomes "determined not to try" and takes advantage of the fact that her teacher has horrible hearing and can't really make out the notes she plays. As the recital approaches, Suyuan brags to her friends that no one can "stop [her daughter's] natural talent." Not surprisingly, Jing-mei's performance is a disaster because of her lack of effort. At this point, she believes that her mother will finally give up on insisting that Jing-mei take piano lessons.

She is therefore shocked when two days later, her mother insists that she turn off the television and begin piano practice, as usual. Jing-mei refuses, declaring that she is finished with piano. Her mother waits for her daughter to comply with her instructions, yet she is visibly growing upset. Finally, she yanks Jing-mei off the floor by one arm and drags her toward the piano. Jing-mei begins screaming at her mother, sobbing that she can never be the daughter her mother longs for. Suyuan replies that there are only two kinds of daughters: obedient daughters and "those who follow their own mind." Furthermore, only obedient daughters can live in their house.

Furious, Jing-mei retorts that she wishes she were not Suyuan's daughter. And then she delivers one final, hurtful blow:

I wish I'd never been born .... I wish I were dead! Like them.

Suyuan is shocked that her daughter has leveraged the great tragedy of her life against her. Suyuan was forced to leave twin daughters behind when she fled China, and she her heart has longed for those children ever since.

Jing-mei therefore "wins" the battle by hurting her mother so deeply that she cannot recover and is left "lifeless" by the blow.

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