In The Joy Luck Club (Chapter 1 to 8): With reference to the life and experiences of An-mei, discuss how the writer conveys the importance of tradition and culture.

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An-mei's story, "Scar," speaks to the importance of tradition and the way in which it marks people. She says that her mother was a ghost, someone the family wanted to forget because she had brought shame to the family by becoming the concubine of a man. Her grandmother told An-mei when she was a young child, "When you lose your face, An-mei...it is like dropping a necklace down a well. The only way you can get it back is to fall in after it" (page 44). An-mei remembers the time when her mother left the house in shame, as a number-three concubine, and wanted to take An-mei with her, which the grandmother prohibited. At this moment, An-mei spilled a vat of hot soup on herself, which caused her to have a scar on her neck. This scar is a memory of her mother, which An-mei carries with her even when the actual memory of her mother has been forgotten. The scar is also a symbol of the way in which An-mei has been marked by tradition and history. Though she doesn't remember her mother after her mother leaves, she is forever marked by the connection to her mother and her mother's past.

Later, when her mother returns, An-mei sees her mother slit her arm and pour her own blood into the soup to try to save her grandmother's life, in vain. An-mei thinks, "This is how a daughter honors her mother...You must peel off your skin, and that of her mother, and her mother before her" (page 48). In other words, a daughter is forever connected to her mother and her ancestors through her own skin. This is the way in which tradition and culture forever affect An-mei and the women in her family. 

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The Joy Luck Club

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