Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Joy Luck Club Help Guide


Warning: Spoilers alert. 


Jing-mei "June" Woo: daughter of Suyuan Woo

The Twenty Six Malignant Gates

8. Two Kinds

June begins to describe how America presented unlimited opportunities for her mother. Her mother desired for her to become a prodigy and both attempted through various methods to choose one for her. At first June was eager for the idea, but then she hated it and attempted to resist it. Finally the mother forced her to learn piano. June does everything she can to ruin it by not practicing properly. At the talent show she cared more for her appearance than skill and embarrassed herself and the mother by playing badly. Years passed and the mother gave the piano as a present for June and June briefly mentions how in other ways she has disappointed her mother. June decides to retune the piano and finds a song that she played at the recital, 'pleading child' and then discovers another one called 'perfectly contented' and she called both of them the same halves of one song. 

American Translation

12. Best Quality

June begins the chapter by saying the pendant that her mother gave her and how at first it had no meaning for her, but then later on became important and how she notices other people wearing similar pendants as well and seem to belong to a secret covenant of sorts and that no one knows the meaning of the pendants. Then she moves back to the year before her mother's death when they went shopping for crabs and the dead crab that they bought, and the tenants that accused her mother of eating a cat they owned. The scene then moves on the celebration and how Waverly's family came over and the fact that others chose the best or second best crabs for themselves and June almost ends up with the worst crab. She and Waverly exchange various barbs with one another. Then her mother gives June the pendant and the scene moves to present day and finally concludes where June makes a dish for her father and sees the cat that was accused of being eaten by her mother. 

Rose Hsu Jordan: Daughter of An-Mei Hsu

The Twenty Six Malignant Gates

7. Half and half

Rose discusses how she feels that her mother will want her to fight for the marriage that is falling apart and then launches into how she met her husband Ted and the "tragedy" that bound them together, how she doesn't make decisions for herself, and then launches into the childhood memory of the time the family went to the beach and she lost her youngest brother Bing to the sea, how Bing never returned despite the mother's attempts to get him back. The mother that used to be faithful and believed in faith, after the loss of her son wasn't so faithful as before and is now using the bible to prop up the table leg. She ends the chapter of saying how she knew things and seen signs yet at the same time she allowed for it to happen. 

American Translation

11. Without Wood

Rose begins the chapter with the discussion of the old "Mr. Chou" who haunted her dreams as a child and how her mother told her about words having power, and the nightmares she had as a child. Then the story moves on to the time she met her mother at a funeral of a friend and mentions the check and the papers that her husband Ted sent over to her. Her mother told her that Ted is cheating on her. Rose doesn't think so and disagrees. She then moves forward to when she talks to her therapist and others about her problem. She stays inside the house until her mother attempts to reach her unsuccessfully at first, and then Ted who admits to cheating on her. She invites Ted over and shows him the messy garden and tells him that she is staying in the house. After standing up for herself she ends the story by finally having a good dream about Mr. Chou and the garden spilling everywhere. 

Waverly Jong: Daughter of Lindo Jong

The Twenty Six Malignant Gates

5. Rules of the Game

Waverly begins by saying that her mother taught her strength of silence, then proceeds to get into the discussion of how this helped her out and how she began to play the chess games. There is also a description of a Chinatown street where she lived and various things that were there. Her brothers got the chess as a christmas present and she learned how to play. She read the chess books in the library and did whatever she could to absorb and allow for the chess game to become part of her. She participated in and won many tournaments. One day however she got fed up with her mother constantly showing her off and told her as much. Then the chapter ends with her imagining that she and her mother are playing chess and that her mother wins. 

American Translation

10. Four Directions

Waverly's mother seems to be in ignorance that Waverly will be marrying Rich, a Caucasian American male, despite Waverly showing the things around her house, then Waverly recounts what happened after she stopped playing chess, how her mother played tricks on her and she no longer was a child prodigy as she used to be. Later on she recounts the story of her first marriage to Marvin Chen and how they ultimately split up because of her mother's constant criticizing and then how she got Shoshana and didn't want her at first. The chapter begins to die away with the description of dinner that didn't go well at all and that ultimately Waverly's mother accepts her new relationship and that Waverly and Rich will be off to China for their honeymoon, the mother will travel back to China afterwards, not with them though. It also ends in understanding between mother and daughter. 

Lena St. Clair: Daughter of Ying-ying St. Clair

The Twenty Six Malignant Gates

6. The Voice from the wall

Lena begins the chapter by discussing the 'thousand cuts' story that her ancestor sentenced a man to go through and begins to describe what it is like to live with her mother, how her mother is a psychic of sorts. Her mother married an English-Irishman and went through a still-birth. Then afterwards a strange family, the Scorcis begin constantly arguing and Lena always imagines the mother cutting up her daughter little by little. The still birth incident changed them all, especially Ying-ying and their sufferings were silent. The chapter ends with her meeting the girl she constantly imagines as dead and the girl returning back to her mother, except this time she imagines that it ends differently, by saying that once the worst is over, then there is nothing to be afraid of. 

American Translation

9. Rice Husband

Lena begins by saying that her mother can foresee events in her family's life and then move to the "present" day of the place she and her husband Harold found a new place and invited Ying-Ying to it. Harold and Lena don't have a positive relationship and then Lena mentions that her mother once predicted that she would marry a bad man. Because Lena refused to finish rice bowls, her mother told her she'd marry a bad man. Lena then develops anorexia sort of and thinks because she didn't eat rice she "killed" a boy who teased her mercilessly in high school. Then she mentions how she and Harold work at the same firm, how they met and how she was instrumental in helping him get started in his own business, and the equality, that everything is split in half, although that part made no sense to me. Lena and Harold, after dinner, get into the fight and the story ends with a noise and Lena running to her mother's room to find out that the vase had fallen and a question asked about why Lena is being passive. 


Suyuan Woo: Mother of Jing-mei "June" Woo (Dead at the start of the story, June Woo narrates for her mother.)

Feathers from a thousand Li away

1. The Joy Luck Club

The friends invited June Woo to play with her and she reminisces about her mother, in particular how her mother is very critical of her and how she told other women that she will go back to college. There she also reminisces about the story that her mother told about creating the Joy Luck club while living in Kweilin with other women, how she escaped from Kweilin and was forced to abandon her twin daughters and other obstacles. At the end of the chapter, it is revealed that the mother discovers where her daughters live and the aunties give the money to June to visit China and her sisters. There is also discussion of how the Chinese-American daughters have no appreciation for the Chinese culture. 

Queen Mother of the western skies

16. A pair of tickets

June describes the trip and the plan at the beginning of the chapter, as well as mentioning how she asked Lindo to write a letter that her mother was dead. (Lindo wrote at first a letter pretending that the mother was alive.) She then moves onto tangents of a conversation, how the mother knows that everyone is gone. Her father reunites with his aunt and the family travels to a hotel which looks like a rich resort rather than a cheap sensible one. She then takes a shower, thinks some more, and the story moves a little to the future. She learns a little more history about how her mother left twin daughters behind, as well as the meanings behind the given names. "Spring rain and spring flower." She also learns the meaning of her mother's name. "Long cherished wish," her own name means "good leftover sister." She also learns why her mother abandoned the daughters, as well as how she met June's father. She also learns how the sisters were found as well as the family that finds them and how they were discovered by somebody. The chapters ends with the sisters meeting one another at last, and how they watch the photo develop.


An-Mei Hsu: Mother of Rose Hsu Jordan

Feathers from a Thousand Li away

2. Scar

An-Mei and her younger brother live with their grandmother whom they call Popo and An-Mei remembers that she was ordered to think of her own mother as a ghost. Popo also tells her stories that at first made no sense to An-Mei, but afterwards finds meaning for them, and she also found out that her mother married somebody while widowed and became a third concubine to a man. Later on Popo gets sick and An-Mei's mother returns. An-Mei then remembers the time her mother is chased out of the house by her family and a soup is spilled all over her body and she nearly dies. This chapter finishes up on An-Mei spying as her mother makes a soup with herbs and whatnot, and then cuts up her arm and puts the flesh from her arm into the pot and attempted to save Popo in that way. The remedy is unsuccessful and in the end Popo dies.  

Queen mother of the western skies

13. Magpies

The chapter begins a little prior to Popo's death where the daughter and mother have their first meeting with one another and the mother tells her daughter about how she must not cry, for other people will feed off her sorrows. She gives the lesson through the use of a wise turtle and the magpie eggs that fall from its mouth. An-mei makes a choice to follow her mother and is warned that she can't lift her head again. She is able to. Her mother changes in front of her eyes and she is told that she will live with a new father and lots of new sisters. The family is out, but then returns and the husband gained a new wife. A wife gives An-Mei necklace and the mother proves that the jewelry is not real by crushing it. An-mei then learns of the family's history and how her mother got involved in it by being forced to get married because of the man raping her and learns that the "brother" is actually her half brother instead of by law. Her mother kills herself few days before lunar new years and concludes the chapter by saying that psychiatrist just wants you dream and not to wake up. 

Lindo Jong: Mother of Waverly Jong

Feathers from a thousand Li away 

3. Red Candle

Lindo starts the chapter with the discussion of how promises are meaningless to her Americanized Chinese-American daughter by discussing a movie she had seen, and then moves on to talking about how, when she was two years old, a matchmaker came over to her village and matched her with Tyan-yu. There is a description of the house that the family lived in, and how eventually flood damaged it and at twelve years old Lindo moves in to her husband's house. Lindo is ordered to be a good wife and obey her husband's family. She claims to almost lose her identity to the family's thinking. At sixteen she officially marries Tyan-yu and the marriage turns out to be a waste. The matchmaker lights a red candle and during the night it goes out while it is raining. The candle still turns to ash. After the marriage, Tyan-yu makes his wife sleep on the sofa and is afraid of having sex with her. Her mother in law, desiring a grandson confined her to bed and she meets a woman she likes who is having a baby out of wedlock and creates a plan that allows the girl to become Tyan-yu's wife. In the end, Lindo ends up in America and to remind her of her worth, which is twenty-four carats, every few years she buys bracelets. 

Queen Mother of Western Skies

15. Double Face

Lindo starts this chapter by discussing how American circumstances and Chinese character do not mix by using an example of her own daughter who wants to be Native Chinese instead of American. The scene changes and she is at a hair stylist's and goes back in past to when her mother compliments her appearance and how much she liked it, then moves on to the time she moved to America and was trained at how to hide herself, that she must seek an American citizen (Not Caucasian but Chinese who is citizen,) or if that fails, then she must have a baby although she must lie to the authorities. Apparently Waverly tends to exaggerate or not tell the truth about circumstances, such as fortune cookie or else her mother arriving differently than what Waverly says what happens. With some success Lindo arrives to America, finds an apartment and a fortune cookie job and there she meets An-Mei Hsu. An-Mei tells her that people think fortune cookies are of Chinese influence which isn't true, including the sayings. (To be honest, I read that fortune cookies are of Japanese origin, not Chinese origin.) She then describes the courtship she had with Tin Jong who is Waverly's father and how she chose an appropriate fortune cookie to ask him to marry her. She mentions why she named her children the way she did, and knows that Waverly would leave her soon. She leaves the chapter with thinking of asking her daughter what was lost and finally found. 

Ying-ying St. CLair: Mother of Lena St. Clair

Feathers from a thousand Li away

4. The Moon Lady

Ying-Ying St. Clair begins the chapter with a lesson on how she is taught to be silent and never express her inner desires, then proceeds to discuss a special event, the time she told the moon lady her wish is finally revealed. She and her family, during the Moon Festival, rented a boat and went swimming. She recounts various things she sees while on a journey, how she ruined her clothes, and falls overboard. She gets picked up by a boat and is left at a dock for her family to find her. While waiting the moon lady comes onstage and recounts the tale of how she and her husband are separated for an eternity. Someone also asks for a monetary donation, and although she doesn't have anything, Ying-ying makes a wish, and just as she does, it is revealed that the moon lady is in fact a man. Her family does find her in the end, and she remembers her wish, which is that she wishes to be found. 

Queen Mother of the Western Skies

14. Waiting between the trees

She tells the story of how she gained her gift of foresight, of the time she was at an aunt's wedding and eventually marries the "evil" man six months after the wedding, and she also describes how vain and thoughtless she always was. Lena isn't aware of the previous marriage. She again knows when she becomes pregnant with his son, although she is unaware that her husband was cheating on her until it becomes too late. Eventually her husband abandons her and later on she learns of  his cheating and that he lives with an opera singer. She has an abortion of the baby. (The term that was used was taking out.) Then Ying-Ying moves on to describing that she was born in year of the tiger and how it has two stripes. Afterwards she moves back to the real narrative where she went to the city, worked for a store and met Lena's father Clifford St. Clair who bought her presents and in 1946 when she learns of her husband's death, she marries Clifford St. Clair and moves to America and admits that while he lived she does not feel anything for him, but as soon as he dies they are equals. She then decides to tell her daughter everything and throws a vase that crashes on the floor. 

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