Why was Jing-Mei taking part in the "Joy Luck Club"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jing-Mei had been asked by her father "to be the fourth corner at the Joy Luch Club", to replace her mother who had died two months earlier.  Jing-Mei's mother passed away suddenly of a cerebral aneurysm; she died "quickly", leaving "unfinished business...behind".  Jong-Mei's father believes that his wife "was killed by her own thoughts".

Jing-Mei's mother had started the "San Francisco version of the Joy Luck Club" in 1949, the year she and her husband arrived in America as refugees from Kweilin.  She had originally fled to Kweilin to find safety from the Japanese who had invaded their land.  Kweilin turned out to be a squalid place, "a city of leftovers mixed together".  Its streets were teeming with refugees from all over China, and the crowdedness, stifling heat, and sound of bombing nearby made it a miserable place to live.

Jing-Mei's mother thought up the idea for the original Joy Luck club in Kweilin.  Her idea was to have a gathering of four hand-picked women, "one for each corner of (the) mah jong table".  Each week one of the women would host a party, and the women would play mah jong and share little delicacies they had managed to concoct from their meager stores.  In the face of despair they would "pretend each week had become the new year".  They would feast, laugh, play, tell stories, and "hope to be lucky".  The hope these women found at their weekly gatherings became their "only joy".

Read the study guide:
The Joy Luck Club

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