Why does Jing-Mei Woo's mother think she can become a prodigy?

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afi80fl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jing Mei's mother thinks she can become a prodigy because she has been watching clips of Shirley Temple, a young girl who was a famous actress well known for her singing and dancing abilities.  She believes that because Shirley Temple can be successful, her own girl, Jing Mei, must be able to as well.  She even goes so far as to cut her hair in a bob-cut, making it look terrible, just to have her daughter resemble the famous actress.  Later, she forces Jing-mei into a recital where she is extremely embarrassed due to her lack of skill.

Jing Mei's mother believes that Jing Mei can "be best anything", and compares her to her daughter's friend who has random skills and abilities, such as spelling, for example.  Later, she tells her daughter that this friend is "only best tricky", implying that trickery and luck have as much to do with being a prodigy as do true skill and talent.  She truly believes that with a lot of practice and dedication, Jing Mei can out perform her friends and be a real prodigy.

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The Joy Luck Club

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