Topics for Further Study

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The story takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown, an Asian community, and one of the many culturally diverse areas in the United States. Research the closest large city to your area and see if you can find at least three distinct cultural communities within that city’s region. How do these communities differ from your own? In what ways are they the same?

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Although the advent of communism in China in 1949 is not discussed at length in the story, the larger work, The Joy Luck Club, is based upon the experiences of four Chinese women who have fled communism and emigrated to the United States, as many did at the time. Research this period of terror and uncertainty in China and write a journal entry from the perspective of a man who is fleeing China at the same time. How would this man’s experiences be different from the women’s?

Waverly Jong’s main talent in this story is playing chess. Research the history of the game, including finding out where and when it originated and when it began being played in the United States.

Chess sets come in all shapes and sizes, from cheap, mass-produced plastic sets to one-of-akind sets crafted out of marble or other exotic materials. Limited-edition chess sets often follow a theme, which can be something historical such as World War II or something as pop cultural as the characters of a television show. Keeping the story’s major themes and background history in mind, design a sample chess set—using any medium you would like to present your ideas, such as drawing, painting, or sculpture.

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