I'm trying to think of songs to describe the St. Clair stories. Any suggestions?I'm trying to think of songs to describe the St. Clair stories. Any suggestions?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I came up with some ideas for songs and have related them to situations the St. Clair women face.  I think you can identify the situation and perhaps plug in another song that you think might be more appropriate or in line with your tastes, if mine don't work:

1)  Ying Yang's Parents teach her that a Chinese girl should be docile- "Big Girls Don't Cry".  It's by some group in the 50's and espouses the conventional belief that a woman's job is to "take it."

2)  Ying Yang's first husband is disloyal and abusive- "If it makes you happy by Sheryl Crow."  It's a song that focuses on how another person essentially discards another one.  I think that works fairly well in this setting.

3)  Ying Yang's abortion and departure to Shanghai- "She's Leaving Home" by the Beatles.  The song is about a girl who leaves her loving parents to have an abortion in the city.  I think the idea can apply here and I am sure, in the lines where the parents cannot understand what they did wrong, Ying Yang's husband would speak the same elements.  I doubt he has the reflective powers to sense his role in her departure.

4)  Ying Yang losing her voice to Clifford- "Slip Sliding Away" by Paul Simon.  A song about emotional distance and departure, the idea of several people being lost in thier own senses of misery.  At this point in the story, Ying Yang's voice is definitely sliding away.

5)  Ying Yang realizes her daughter is following in her victimized footsteps and that this must stop- "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who.  The premise of the song is the title.  There is a level of anger and frustration that Ying Yang would share when seeing her daughter replicate the same mistakes she committed.

6)  Ying Yang's anger at her lack of taking action and seeing her daughter taken advantage- "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks- There is a certain resoluteness in this song.  This is who I am and I will say it until I feel satisfied.  I believe this might be a song where mother and daughter could duet.

7)  When Lena decides to speak out against Harold's oppression- "The Big Pay Back" by James Brown.  It's a seven minute song about revenge and getting justice.  I think that Lena could empathize with the idea that "look at me, I'm here."  This idea that I demand justice is a prevalent element in the song and in Lena's narrative.

8)  "Because the Night" by Patti Smith- It's a beautiful song that might be able to capture the entire narrative of both St. Clair protagonists, speaking of heartbreak and reconciliation in the arms of another.  Both strive for it and might sense much of what Smith is trying to say (The 10,000 Maniacs with Natalie Merchant rendition on MTV's Unplugged is equally good.)

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The Joy Luck Club

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