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The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan

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What lesson about authenticity does Jing-mei learn in The Joy Luck Club?

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In The Joy Luck Club, Jing-mei or June learns that being true to oneself demands embracing multiple aspects of one’s identity. In her case, this involves understanding herself as Chinese as well as American, recognizing the extent of her mother’s struggles, and welcoming her sisters into her life. While her mother, Suyuan, was still alive, June struggled against the Chinese part of her identity. Rather than feeling like China was alive within her, she experienced it as a foreign influence that had shaped her mother. She also knew that her mother was keeping secrets but did not understand the depth of her suffering and sacrifices.

After Suyuan’s death, June is finally ready to consider herself as Jing-mei and to try to understand what it means to be Chinese as well as American. This discovery is dependent on her voyage to China, where meeting her half sisters helps her feel connected to her family and the country that had shaped them all.

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