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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Waiting Between the Trees Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. When Ying-ying wore her hair down, what did her mother say she looked like?

2. Ying-ying did not appreciate what she had as a child. What object best symbolizes that statement?

3. When did Ying-ying’s husband’s business trips start becoming longer and more frequent?

4. How did Ying-ying feel about her pregnancy?

5. What do the two colors of the tiger symbolize?

6. Although Ying-ying did not throw herself into the lake after her husband left her, in what ways did she become like one of the lady ghosts of the lake?

7. Where did Ying-ying meet Clifford St. Clair?

8. How did Ying-ying’s first husband die?

9. What aspect of Lena causes Ying-ying to be ashamed?

10. What does Ying-ying do to summon her chi and bring both her black and gold sides back?

1. Her mother said Ying-ying looked like a “lady ghost at the bottom of the lake,” a woman who became pregnant without being married and drowned herself to hide her shame. Later, her ghost would haunt the homes of living people with her hair undone.

2. A jade cigarette jar symbolizes her lack of appreciation. She took it, threw away the cigarettes, and played in the mud with it.

3. He was gone more after she became pregnant.

4. She was very happy at first, but after her husband abandoned her, she was so angry that she had an abortion and told the nurses to throw the baby into the lake.

5. The black represents yin—patient and cunning. The gold is yang—powerful and forceful.

6. Ying-ying was very depressed. She covered her mirrors so she could not see her grief; she left her hair down because she was too weak to pin it up; and she went to live with some cousins in the country, where she did nothing for 10 years.

7. They met in Shanghai where she worked in a dress shop.

8. When he tried to leave his last mistress, she stabbed him with a sharp knife.

9. Ying-ying is ashamed that Lena has no spirit, no chi.

10. Ying-ying remembers the events of her life that have caused her pain. She must accept the pain rather than hide from it in order to regain her spirit.

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