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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The Joy Luck Club Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Why did Suyuan organize the first Joy Luck Club?

2. What are dyansyin foods?

3. According to Suyuan’s story, what happened to her twin daughters?

4. With whom did Suyuan compare Jing-mei?

5. According to Suyuan, what is the difference between Jewish and Chinese mah jong?

6. Auntie An mei had gone to China “three years ago,” according to the story. Tell at least two things that went wrong on the trip.

7. What motivates the aunties to give Jing-mei money for a trip to China?

8. What do the aunties want Jing-mei to tell her sisters in China about?

9. Jing-mei comments on the English of her mother and the other members of the Joy Luck Club, calling it “halting” and “fractured.” How does this relate to the old woman of the vignette, who wants to speak “perfect American English”? What does it suggest about Suyuan, An-mei, Lindo, and Ying-ying?

10. List four examples of breakdown in communication between Suyuan and Jing-mei.

1. Suyuan organized the first Joy Luck Club to fight discouragement during the war.

2. Dyansyin foods are supposed to bring good luck. They include dumplings shaped like ingots, rice noodles, boiled peanuts, and oranges.

3. Suyuan does not say. We only know that she arrived in Chungking without them.

4. Suyuan compared Jing-mei with Lindo’s daughter, Waverly, who was one month younger.

5. In Jewish mah jong, players focus on their own tiles. In Chinese mah jong, players also note what their opponents are playing and use strategy.

6. First, her brother’s family was not impressed with her gifts of candy and cheap clothing. Second, they took advantage of her by bringing along extended family members and some people who weren’t even related and manipulating her into providing meals and lodging at an expensive hotel for everyone, three gifts for each relative, and a loan that was never repaid.

7. The aunties are generous women who feel a strong loyalty to the friend who brought them together.

8. The aunties want Jing-mei to tell her sisters about their mother. They specifically mention Suyuan’s success, her intelligence, kindness, care of her family, hopes, and cooking.

9. Suyuan, An-mei, Lindo, and Ying-ying, as mothers, want their daughters to understand them. However, language problems may get in the way.

10. A) Jing-mei does not remember whether her mother said black sesame-seed soup and red bean soup were chabudwo, almost the same, or butong, not the same thing at all.

B) Jing-mei does not understand why her mother was so critical of her own friends.

C) Suyuan has trouble explaining the difference between Jewish and Chinese mah jong to Jing-mei.

D) Suyuan told Lindo that Jing-mei was returning to college when Jing-mei had only said she would “look into it” and did not really intend to.

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