In Amy Tan's "A Pair of Tickets," how does the meaning of "Chinese" evolve in the story?June May's change relates to her comment, "the part of me that is Chinese."

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of "A Pair of Tickets" by Amy Tan, in Jing-mei's mind, "Chinese" denotes something undesirable. Much of this comes from growing up in the United States where she was part of a minority class, and her differences not only stood out, but separated her from the masses.

Jing-mei's trip to China is a road to discovery: not only with regard to her mother and other relatives, but also to who she is culturally.

As Jing-mei learns about her mother (Suyuan) and her difficult—near tragic—life experiences, she starts to see her mother in a new light based upon the circumstances in which Suyuan was living in China as a younger woman.

When Jing-mei arrives in China, her preconceived notions about "Communist China" are swept aside. There is a great deal there that mirrors the Western culture that she is accustomed to. In addition, she is no longer an outsider: she looks like everyone else and feels comfortable in her own skin.

Being Chinese is who she is, and the label no longer bothers her as she meets family members (her great-aunt and the twins) and realizes she is a part of a Chinese family—which brings her a new sense of belonging. This knowledge frees Jing-mei from feeling isolated (“It is so obvious…After all these years, it can finally be let go.”); she accepts her heritage, no longer as something that separates her from others, but as something that unites her with others.

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