Discuss how The Joy Luck Club is affected by Orientalism. Orientalism is the idea that stereotypes Aisan culture as exotic.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I certainly think that this is a part of the reading of Tan's work.  Certainly, it is a part of her writing it because she experiences this in how she is perceived as an Asian- American women.  I think that it is to this extent that Tan wishes to raise the idea of Orientialism, if nothing else, to destroy it.  Tan's depiction of the mother and daughter bond is one in which individuals are able to see that there is something permanent and transcendent, far from the "Orientalism" depiction and idea of something "kitsch."  Tan suggests that this bond and the need to understand requires a deeper understanding of both the Chinese culture and the culture of Chinese- American women.  This demand goes beyond an "Orientialism" view.  This is not "exotic," but rather an element that is more reflective than anything else.  One of Tan's strongest points in the work is that she presents a depiction of women that can be seen and appreciated as near universal.  Certainly, all women have had to either confront the reality of being silenced or understand the implications of this condition.  At the very least, it has been something contemplated and understood, providing a meaningful and transcendent definition of what it means to be a woman.  In this, "Orientialism" perceptions are debunked in place for a real and valid understanding of what it means to be a woman in Chinese culture, and not something out of "Suzy Wong."

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