What are several examples of irony indicated in Amy Tan's short story "A Pair of Tickets" from The Joy Luck Club?I'm trying to show several examples that show how her attitude changed when she went...

What are several examples of irony indicated in Amy Tan's short story "A Pair of Tickets" from The Joy Luck Club?

I'm trying to show several examples that show how her attitude changed when she went deeper into her exploration of her Chinese roots and, yet, her "Americanism" really stayed the same.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, "A Pair of Tickets" is probably my favorite story, for it is in this segment that the narrator, Jing-Mei (June) Woo finally comes to understand her mother (Suyuan Woo) as she never could while she was alive. This was primarily because June could not understand the truths of her Chinese heritage, having been raised in a very different American culture.

One example of irony is found in how June sees herself, as opposed to the truth her mother knew: June insisted that she was American, not Chinese. Her mother understood that this was in June's genes—it was what her ancestors had passed on to her. Her mother said:

One you are born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and thing Chinese. 

Someday you will see...It is in your blood, waiting to be let go.

June fights this idea, sure she would die of mortification if one day she "became" Chinese as her mother is, embarrassing her daughter for behaviors normal in China, but unusual in America. However, as she arrives in Shenzhen, China, June feels herself changing...not the way her fifteen year-old self imagined it, but with a tug on her heart, and physical sensations that announce something is changed:

...I feel different. I can feel the skin on my forehead tingling, my blood rushing through a new course, by bones aching with a familiar old pain. And I think, My mother was right. I am becoming Chinese.

This is ironic in that June ferociously denied her Chinese heritage during all of her formative years, but all she needed to do was arrive in her mother's homeland, and instantly she feels a kinship. The difference between what we expect to happen and what really happens is irony.

At the same time, June does not lose all that she has become: she is still an American, but she now has a deeper appreciation for those people who came before her, who have made her who she is, and she feels (at last) connected to her mother and her heritage.

There is also a poignant sadness that June experiences, along with a deep joy, upon meeting her half-sisters for the first time. And there is irony here as well. The first thing that occurs when June sees her sisters is a momentary confusion: her sisters are so like her mother. June feels she is seeing double. For all of June's worry about how she would be accepted, their meeting is joyful as they all embrace. In that moment, it is ironic, that the mother that June so often fought with, resented, was embarrassed by, becomes the joyful center of this reunion.

"Mama, Mama," we all murmur, as if she is among us.

There is a great irony in that the things about her mother that were so Chinese are now the things that so touch June—about her mother, who she believes she did not appreciate enough. Once again, the result is not one we would expect: the joining of an American woman with her two Chinese sisters, as family, something that would have seemed impossible for June before she met them.

It is also ironic that even though Suyuan is dead, her dream still comes true—as the girls see the picture of themselves, they realize they all look like Suyuan, they are a family, and...

Together we look like our mother. Her same eyes, her same mouth, open in surprise to see, at last, her long-cherished wish. 

When her mother dies, this dream would appear to be dead, but the women bring it to life again. June's American identity does not separate them, it is just a part of who June is.

Read the study guide:
The Joy Luck Club

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