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The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan

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Student Question

What happened to Jing-mei's sisters in The Joy Luck Club?

Quick answer:

Jing-mei's sisters survived being left on the side of the road by their mother. They were found and raised by a childless couple. After her mother dies, Jing-mei is able to go to China and meet them.

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As Jing-mei learns from Canning, her twin half-sisters survived being left on the side of the road by their mother as she fled the Japanese.

Suyuan took a great risk in abandoning her children, as in those desperate times, anyone could have taken the money and jewelry she attached to them and left the babies to perish. However, the two babies were found by Mei Ching and Mei Han, a kindly couple without any children, who raised them as their own. They found the photos and valuable items left with the babies. Suyuan had written down the address in Shanghai where the girls could be brought for a reward, but Mei Ching and Mei Han were illiterate.

By the time life settled down enough for Mei Ching and Mei Han to find someone to translate what was written on the photos, Mei Ching had become so attached to the two girls that she didn't want to give them up. When the twins were older, and after her husband died, Mei Ching decided the best solution would be to take the girls to their Shanghai family and ask if she can stay on as their nanny. However, when she got to the address, the family was gone, and the site had become a factory.

After Suyuan was settled in America, she wrote to her friends in China, asking that they look for her daughters. Unfortunately, the twins are not discovered until after Suyuan's death, but Jing-mei is able to fly to China to meet them, thanks to the Joy Luck Club.

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Does Jing-Mei find her sisters?

In the final pages of The Joy Luck Club, Jing-Mei brings her mother's dream to fruition as she steps off a plane and meets her sisters.

As she nears Shanghai, Jing-Mei isn't sure how she will ever begin to explain her mother's life, and she deeply mourns the loss of her mother in those hours. She desperately wishes that Suyuan could have been the one to greet these daughters whom she had been forced to leave behind decades earlier. As Jing-Mei walks off the plane and across the tarmac, she is so nervous that she cannot "even feel [her] feet."

Suddenly, a voice cries out that "she" has arrived, and Jing-Mei spots one of her sisters; the sister's hand is pressed to her mouth as she is overcome with emotion. Jing-Mei then spots her other sister, who is holding a Polaroid that Jing-Mei had sent her. The three sisters run toward each other, collapsing into an embrace as they chant "mama" repeatedly.

Jing-Mei believes that she and her sisters all look like their mother, and she absorbs feelings of wholeness in this moment, "eager to see what develops" from this burgeoning relationship. Whatever comes, she is certain that finding her twin sisters is the realization of Suyuan's "long-cherished wish."

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