How does the narrator's view of her father change by seeing him in a different setting in Amy Tan's "A Pair of Tickets?"  

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Amy Tan's short story, "A Pair of Tickets," from her collection The Joy Luck Club, the narrator sees her father in a much different light when they travel together to China.

Jing-Mei is the narrator, and in memory of her dead mother, she and her father, Canning Woo, travel to China, where he and his wife were born. Her father, at the time, is seventy-two years old, and has been away for China for many years.

The first new impressions Jing-Mei has come from watching her dad as they travel through the countryside in the train.

I don't  know whether it's the prospect of seeing his aunt or if it's because he's back in China, but now he looks like he's a young boy, so innocent and happy I want to button his sweater and pat his head.

Rather than feeling like the child in the relationship herself, Jing-Mei senses the child still living in her father, and she wants to straighten his clothes and pat his head as a mother might do, for a child she loves.

Another way Jing-Mei sees her father in a new light also occurs during the train ride.

For the first time I can ever remember, my father has tears in his eyes, and all he is seeing out the train window is a sectioned field of yellow, green, and brown, a narrow canal flanking the tracks, low rising hills, and three people in blue jackets riding an ox-driven cart on this early October morning.

This section of the story shoes the depth of emotion stirring within her father, and Jing-Mei notes that she has never seen him cry before in her entire life.

When her father is reunited with his aunt, Aiyi, once again Jing-Mei sees the child that still lives within him.

...But my father is staring down at this tiny sparrow of a woman, squinting into her eyes. And then his eyes widen, his face opens up and he smiles like a pleased little boy.

'Aiyi! Aiyi!'—Auntie! Auntie!—he says softly.

'Syau Yen!' coos my great-aunt. I think it's funny she has just called my father "Little Wild Goose."

As Jing-Mei watches her father return to the land of his birth, and family members he has been long-separated from, or has never met, she sees him in a setting that may be new to her, but not to him. And seeing him placed so differently in this alien world, and watching the years roll off of him, Jing-Mei is able to see her father in a new light, reacting as he did when he was a child living in China.


reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator, Jing-Mei, changes her view of her father in the short story "A Pair of Tickets," the last segment in The Joy Luck Club.

As Jing-Mei travels to China with her seventy-two year old father, Canning Woo, she sees him transform into the young, innocent boy of his youth. They are on their way to Guangzhou, formerly Canton, to visit Canning's aunt, Aiyi. Jing-Mei sees her father "with tears in his eyes" as he views the countryside. These tears of nostalgia also bring "misty eyes" to Jing-Mei as if she has traveled this path before. For the first time, she really feels Chinese. Seeing her father in his native setting has rejuvenated him and has made her feel his passion for China. Canning's depth of emotion enlightens Jing-Mei and enables her to see her father in a new light.

As father and daughter reach their destination, they are greeted by an old woman. Jing-Mei hears her shout, "Syau Yen!" The name, Syau Yen, means "Little Wild Goose," and the old woman turns out to be Aiya, Auntie. Jing-Mei once again sees her father "smile like a pleased little boy." Little Wild Goose was his "baby milk name." Returning to his homeland has given Canning the ability to return to his youth.

In this story, Canning is also instrumental in recounting the life of Jing-Mei's mother, Suyuan, and the story of how and why she had to abandon Jing-Mei's half sisters. He has become the keeper of the family's history. At the close of the story, father and daughter take the flight that will result in Jing-Mei finally meeting her sisters and fulfilling her mother's "long-cherished" wish.