In Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck Club, what are some themes, tones, and narrative styles of the chapter titled "Best Quality"?
In Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club, the chapter titled “Best Quality” is narrated by Jing-Mei Woo. Some of the themes, tones, and narrative styles of the chapter might be described as follows:
- Relations between mothers and daughters, especially in Chinese-American culture.
- Death and grief.
- Relations among Chinese Americans.
- Chinese-American rituals, such as Chinese New Year celebrations.
- Relations between Chinese Americans and non-Chinese Americans.
- Changes in cultures from one generation to the next.
- Submerged tensions in conversations.
- Competition among “friends.”
- Pride and humiliation.
- Relations between the past and the present, between childhood and adulthood.
- Self-reflection and self-acceptance.
- Nostalgic, as the narrator recalls her now-dead mother.
- Humor, as when the narrator’s mother complains about a troublesome cat: “That cat always raising his tail to put stink on my door.”
- Irony and sarcasm, as in some of Waverly’s remarks and in some of the narrator’s retorts to Waverly.
- Affectionate, as in the conversation between the mother and narrator at the end of the chapter.
- Personal reminiscence, as in the frequent use of “I” in this chapter.
- Emphasis on Chinese-inflected English, as when the mother says of her tenants,
“And they take bath, two three times every day. Running the water, running, running, running, never stop!”
- Comedy derived from cultural misunderstanding, as when the narrator’s mother says of someone,
“. . . that man, he raise his hand like this, show me his ugly fist and call me worst Fukien landlady. I not from Fukien. Hunh! He know nothing!”
- Dialogue, especially in the conversations between the narrator and her mother.
- Lucid narration, using simple words and uncomplicated sentence patterns.
- Tension and growing suspense, as we wonder how the barbed conversation between Waverly and the narrator will turn out.
- Irony, as in the unexpected outcome of the dialogue between the narrator and Waverly.
- Symmetry, as in the way the chapter begins by referring to a necklace and ends by referring to the same necklace.