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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Queen Mother of the Western Skies, Vignette Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Who are the two characters in this vignette?

2. What reason does the grandmother give for the baby’s laughter?

3. What is the relationship between the grandmother and the baby’s mother?

4. Why had the grandmother given up her innocence?

5. Why might the grandmother wonder if she has done the right thing?

6. Who is Syi Wang Mu?

7. Why would Syi Wang Mu know the answer to the grandmother’s question?

8. Who else needs to know this answer?

9. What will people be able to do as long as they still have hope, according to this vignette?

10. In what way does this vignette differ from the other three?

1. The two characters are the grandmother and her granddaughter.

2. The grandmother says Buddha is teaching her to laugh for no reason. She also says the baby is free and innocent.

3. The grandmother is the mother of the baby’s mother.

4. The grandmother needed to protect herself from the evils of the world. To do that, she had to gain experience. She could not go through life blindly.

5. The grandmother knows that her daughter will raise this baby the same way she was raised.

6. Syi Wang Mu is the Queen Mother of the Western Skies.

7. Syi Wang Mu has lived forever, through many lifetimes.

8. The baby’s mother, the grandmother’s daughter, needs to know this answer.

9. They will always be able to laugh.

10. In this vignette the grandmother learns from the child, instead of the other way around.

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