This is a novel filled with much conflict: mothers’ own paradox, daughters’ own contradiction, conflicts between mothers and daughters and conflicts between daughters and daughters, mothers and mothers. Above all, the cultural conflict between China and America is throughout the whole novel. At last, in the end of this novel, all the mothers and daughters making up is also against all the conflict above. For my part, in this novel, the most impressive parts are the four mother's suffering which reflects strong feminist consciousness and the cultural conflict and compatibility between China and America.
The four mothers were born in traditional China and were taught to observe “3 obedience and 4 virtues” when they were young, which is the very reason that lead to their tragedy. In China, they fight, struggled with their courage and intelligence and finally got the chance or compelled to migrate to America. The most ridiculous thing was, London Jon, Waverly’s mother, a sharp-sighted women, got a ticket to Shanghai by utilizing Chinese feudal and superstition.
Anyway, in the end, with their own sorrows, no matter escaping or bold, the four mothers were compelled to migrate to America to make desperate struggle to fight against the destiny of Chinese women. Although the novel did not account their experiences when they first stepped into American land, I can imagine that situation just like the condition in The Young Girl—Xiao Yu which was rather difficult. So their immigrant itself is a paradox. Both in physical and mental, they suffered in various ways and to various degrees. As things went like this, so, although they have lived in America for so many years, no matter the traditional Chinese value or the sad memories were taken to America.
The four mothers, from tyrannized by feudal rules to living an miserable life to struggling to be free from the ridiculous traditional Chinese values, from desperate China to the paradise-like America, walked in the four edges. So, on one hand, they tried to get rid of those sad memories to find a new lifestyle for women. On the other hand, the sorrow was printed in their heart that they have no way to abandon it. Even in their potential consciousness, they were comforted by in a Chinese atmosphere so that they set up the joy luck club and care and harm each other. Then, this contradiction reflected in their daily life, especially in the teaching of their daughters.
I said, that time, they believe America was the paradise and in America, their daughters would not suffer what they have suffered. With the best wishes, they placed high hopes on their daughters and schemed daughters’ future as their idea. They required their daughters observe Chinese traditional three obedience and four virtues. What impressing me most was that Suyuan said to Jingmei,” Only two kinds of daughters, those who are obedience and follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!” And in Chinese mothers’ eye, they believed spare the rod, spoil the child. So, they almost educate their children by criticizing.
For daughters: They cannot accurately make a definition for their identities. On one hand, they were born in America and in their heart; they recognize themselves as out-and-out American too. On the other hand, their mothers were Chinese, and from time to time, mothers took different actions to make them believe they were Chinese. There, we can see that daughters themselves were deeply influenced by American culture and identified them as individual, independent, emphasizing "self". What they needed was the encouragement but not personal attacks. In their eyes, they out-and-out American and need not to observe those fuck custom. And they thought mothers’ thought is ridiculous.
Because of the difference in culture, the conflict between the daughters who represented the American dominated culture and the mothers who represented traditional Chinese culture arose and they began to find a voice for each other. For the mothers, of the bad things of life, their eastern culture was inhibited by the mighty western culture, which made the mothers out of voice. In America, they had no way to develop or stick to their ideas, only they can do was to depend on their stubborn spirit and a
time-honored culture. And in this process, they were against daughters by means of tolerating and gradually they were growing old. Not only the mothers suffered the collision of two very different cultures, so did their daughters. For daughters, all things in China were beyond their mind, they cannot understand what mothers talked. They did their best to adapt the cultural environment around them to make them become true American. Thus, mothers and daughters were like two intersecting lines, eventually going into opposite directions. Only if one side compromise to another, they can live peacefully, just like what happened in the end of this novel.
Jing Mei finally understood the meaning of the swan feather, that is, the best wishes from her mother, but not the hope to make her a swan. She can feel her mother’s misery when she abandoned her twin daughters. She just wanted to carefully cultivate her sole daughter and give her the best to make up her pity for her missing daughters although she seemed a little bit serious. And in the end, Jingmei found that she really had a gift for piano, what a pity, because of her unreasonable misunderstanding for her mother, she lost the chance to understand herself.
Wise as Waverly, since she gave up playing chess to against her mother and then her mother said to her “not so easy any more”, she failed the next several competition. Henceforth, her mother’s word was like the curse and she tried to escape from her mother’s control, but failed. As it will, Waverly’s history was the process of struggle against her mother and pleases her mother. At last, she sobbed to her mother that she can do nothing to please her mother and then her mother guffawed that “now, you make me happy.” Actually, her mother was just a stubborn old woman; she always remembered that her daughter was ashamed with her. This thought preyed on her mind all the time. Now, when they frankly speak out their true ideas, they made up. It was so easy to make up only sincere heart can do it.
Lena’s mother lived in a vitality life all along because she was humiliated by her husband and as revenge, she drowned her little daughter to death although she was not deliberate. Afterwards, she was in a desperate spirit and so was her daughter, Lena. Although their relationship was not full of conflict, we cannot say it was good. When Lena’s marriage was dangerous, her mother finally came to sense, maybe because she was enough sensitive to marriage, since she had a desperate marriage after all. She asked what her daughter wants to get from husband and if he cannot give, leave him and she would fond a man who really cherished her. BY this thing, her mother seemed get out of an evident low spirit.
Yingying, Rose’s mother, witnessed that her mother suffered an unfair fate in China and cannot ask for justice. In order to make her daughter get rid of this similar destiny, she told her daughter the story of her mother and taught her to learn to shout at the unfair fate, which saved the dangerous marriage. These cases revealed that the women began to release themselves from the restrains of being oppressed by the men and old-fashioned thoughts as well as some Chinese traditional characters. Eventually, the women find their true value and win their own happiness. Maybe some conflict still exist, I believe it is much easier to solve since the contradiction between Chinese culture and American culture, mothers and daughters.
In the beginning of this novel, Amy Tan showed us a Chinese atmosphere—playing mahjong in America, which easily presents the chief conflict of this novel, also makes a foundation for the next account. Besides, this novel is shown in a flashback, make readers from a happy beginning suddenly fall into a sad misery. It is pretty good. Third, in this novel, many Chinese words are used, especially in the end of the novel, “Mama,” move me so much. Just words like this, make this novel more touching and truer.
After reading this novel, maybe most of us would recall our experience in dealing with the relationship between parents and us. For my part, generation gap as an existing phenomenon will not
fade away easily. To solve this problem efficiently, parents should reflect on the measures they taking to cultivate their children. The most important, they need to hold the top priority in their children’s interest and happiness. Surely, daughters’ cooperation is the most important. What daughters must do is to try our best to think more for our parents. Do not leave empty of “the pro-not to support” regret! So, as daughters or sons, we must think all the affairs more deeply, trying not only to pleased our parents also satisfied ourselves. And remember there is no any other thing that has the strength to defeat a sincere hear