Illustration of the profiles of a young woman and an older woman facting away from each other

The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan

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Double Face Summary

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Lindo Jong assures her daughter that she need not be afraid to go to China on her honeymoon. Her daughter will not be mistaken for a native Chinese person. She does not even speak Chinese, and she has never learned all the Chinese culture her mother has tried to teach her. Lindo wanted a blend of Chinese character and American opportunities for her children, but she has discovered that these two do not mix. Her daughter has not learned that “Chinese thinking is best.” The lessons have not stuck.

Lindo goes with her daughter to get her hair done by Mr. Rory. Her daughter speaks for Lindo, acting like she cannot understand or decide for herself about her hair. Lindo is proud of her daughter, but she realizes that her daughter is not proud of her, and Waverly does not care to hear Mr. Rory exclaim about how much the two women look alike. Lindo tells her daughter that her character and future are written in her face. Then she thinks back to an encounter with her own mother in China.

Lindo was a young girl, and her mother was commenting on all of her facial features. Lindo was lucky. She looked like her mother, and they would share the same characteristics and experiences. Her mother was pleased that Lindo had a wide forehead and would be clever, and Lindo was pleased with her mother’s comments. She wanted to be just like her mother.

“It’s hard to keep your Chinese face in America,” Lindo remarks. Before she arrived, she paid someone to teach her all about her new country. Now her daughter often tells her story wrong and merely speaks “Chinese nonsense” rather than the truth.

Lindo arrived in America and went to a woman who gave her, for a fee, a list of places to live and jobs to apply for. Lindo got an apartment and a job at the cookie factory, where, at first, she burned her fingers but quickly learned the work. At the factory, she met An-mei Hsu, and they laughed over the ridiculous fortune cookie messages that made no sense to anyone who was actually Chinese.

An-mei and her husband introduced Lindo to Tin Jong. Lindo and Tin spoke different dialects and attended English classes together. At first, it was difficult to communicate, and they had to get creative. Lindo decided she wanted to marry him, and she gave him a fortune cookie with the message “A house is not home when a spouse is not at home.” Tin had to look up the word “spouse,” but when he did, he asked Lindo to marry him. Now they have already lost one son, and Lindo has broken her nose on a bus ride. She named her daughter for the street where they lived, thinking that Waverly would feel a sense of belonging, but her daughter left and took a piece of Lindo with her.

Mother and daughter look into the mirror together and talk about their crooked noses. Waverly laughs and says that it makes them look devious, like they have two faces. Lindo wonders if she has lost her Chinese face and reflects on how, when she went back to China, people saw her as a foreigner.

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