Language does, indeed, play an enormous role in Amy Tan's short story, "A Pair of Tickets," from her collection The Joy Luck Club.
When Jing-Mei meets their family in China, they are separated to some extent by language. While her father and his great-aunt, Aiyi, can speak Mandarin, the rest of the family speaks Cantonese. Jing-Mei herself cannot speak either language, though she understands Mandarin moderately well. With this first meeting, the exchange of information takes place using Mandarin, Cantonese and English.
Because of Jing-Mei youthful resistance to all things Chinese in terms of her own life, it is not surprising that she did not try harder to learn the language of her parents, of her "people," and her heritage.
When Jing-Mei begins to talk about her mother's experience in China in 1944—when she was forced to leave her twin baby girls, and almost died herself—questions come to this daughter that she had never thought to ask her mother while she was alive. Jing-Mei asks...
(The entire section contains 587 words.)