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The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan
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What is the point of The Joy Luck Club?

The point of The Joy Luck Club is to show how a group of Chinese women over two generations cope with the constrictions of female life in a Chinese cultural context, be it in China or the U.S. The book also shows, especially in the case of the daughters, the conflict of being torn between two cultures.

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The focus of The Joy Luck Club is on Chinese mothers and daughters, making this a woman's novel. Its point is to show, through a series of four stories, how these women struggle to establish their own identities in the world.

The mothers have struggled to make a better life...

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The focus of The Joy Luck Club is on Chinese mothers and daughters, making this a woman's novel. Its point is to show, through a series of four stories, how these women struggle to establish their own identities in the world.

The mothers have struggled to make a better life for themselves despite the restrictions placed on them by their patriarchal Chinese culture. These struggles have included the decision to come to America and to cope bravely with the new life here; using their wits, as in the case of Lindo, to escape a bad marriage; and, in the case of Suyuan Woo, a war refugee, beginning the Joy Luck Club so that she and the other three women in it can push back against their circumstances and find mutual support.

The daughters struggle with a combination of love and admiration for their mothers and feelings of shame over their mothers' cultural difference, such as the broken way they speak English and their insistence on maintaining Chinese customs. The mothers, in turn, struggle with wanting their daughters to have the independence and opportunity American culture offers while not losing their Chinese heritage. In the end, in many cases, the younger women, such as Waverley, are enriched by their intense conflicts and relationships with their mothers. Joy-luck, the hope of finding happiness despite painful circumstances, is a thread connecting all the women.

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