Name of the Student
APPRAISAL OF AMY TAN’S WORKS
Amy Tan is an American writer whose creations are based on exploring the relationship between mother and daughter and the Chinese- American experience. Her renowned novel is “The Joy Luck Club” which is published in 35 different languages and has been filmed too. To understand the novels of the author, it is prudent to understand the background of Amy Tan. She was born in Oakland, California and was amongst the three children of Daisy Lee. Daisy Lee was a Chinese immigrant who married John Tan, an electrical engineer and a Baptist Minister. The childhood of Amy Tan was very sad because her father and brother died of brain tumors when she was only fifteen years old. Amy learned that Daisy was earlier married to an abusive person and how he tortured Daisy. She learned how Daisy was forced to move to America from Shanghai, leaving her children. Amy later traveled with Daisy to China and met her siblings. The novels of Amy Tan reflected the agony and constraints of mother-daughter relationships, which was based on her mother. Amy Tan was married to Lou De Mattei, an Italian-American and did her Master’s degree in English and Doctoral degree in linguistics. The present article would evaluate the works of Amy Tan by her philosophies and experiences on mother-daughter relationships, especially in context to Chinese immigrant families in the United States.
Selection of Works
To understand the philosophy of Amy Tan’s works that would be evaluated for appraisal are “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Kitchen God’s Wife” and “The Bonesetter’s Daughter”. The three novels selected for appraisal in this article is because all these novels are somehow related to the mother-daughter relationships, about Chinese immigrant women. There are similarities in the plot of these three novels in different aspects which portray the experiential feelings of Amy Tan about Daisy, her mother about the love for her children. In the novel “The Joy Luck Club”, the story focused on four Chinese immigrant families in San Francisco. Here it is shown that these families plays the famous Chinese game called Mahjong for money. In the first section of this novel “Feathers from a Thousand Li Away” introduced Jing-Mei Woo, whose mother founded the club. It revealed how her mother Suyuan who was the wife of an officer during the World War II, was forced to flee from the Chinese province of Kweilin and abandoned her two daughters and moved to America. The other three mothers in the Joy Luck Club also revealed their stories of how their mothers left them early in their childhood, for getting married under various constraints and reasons. In the second novel “The Kitchen God’s Wife”, the story centers on Winnie, who was a Chinese in origin and was married to an American-Chinese. Pearl was the daughter of Winnie and was invited by Winnie to attend an engagement party of her cousin in San Francisco. The story portrayed the early life of Winnie in China. Winnie was abandoned by her mother in her childhood and disappeared from Winnie’s life. She was left to the mercy of her uncle and aunts. As she grew up, she got married to Weng-Fu, who was destined to marry Peanut (her cousin). However, Weng-Fu learned about Winnie’s wealth, and he decided to marry her. After their marriage, Winnie suffered physical and mental assaults from her husband and was forced to flee to the United States with Jimmy Louie, with whom she fell in love. In the novel “The Bonesetter’s Daughter”, once again the relation of the daughter-mother relationship was reflected. In this story, Ruth and her mother’s relationship are depicted. Lu Ling, the mother of Ruth, has been shown to suffer from Dementia. Ruth is a ghostwriter and was struggling to manage her mother’s sickness. Lu Ling believed that Ruth could connect to the spiritual world and made her weird requests. The novel also leads to Lu ling’s story in her childhood days. She was reared by Precious Auntie, who was the mother of Lu Ling. However, Lu Ling learned about that relationship after the death of her mother. The story narrated how Lu Ling was married to a person called Fu Nan, because their family believed in some supernatural things and if Lu Ling were married to Fu Nan, then their objective could be fulfilled. However, Precious Aunty vehemently protested against such superstitious marriage. Although she could not openly protest the marriage, she wrote the reasons for discouraging such marriage, which unfortunately was not read to its end by Lu Ling. In all these three novels, the author narrated the struggle faced by Chinese women with their marriages, and they were forced to immigrate to the United States. However, they had their love and affection for their daughters whom they left in China, due to their broken marriages. The author used narrative elements nicely, to bring about the life of Chinese immigrant women in China and how there life changed with compassion from their American better halves. The persuasive techniques were used quite well as in each of the novels, the characters of Chinese men were revealed. These individuals were shown to be brutal, abusive, superstitious and jealous and did not show any form of respect to their wives. This was the primary reason such women fled to the United States for a better life. They did struggle, which was clearly portrayed in the Joy Stick Club. However, they kept aside their past and was looking for a decent living in the United States, which they missed so much back in China.
Each novel selected in this article portrayed Amy tan’s views on Daisy. She meticulously brought out the struggle faced by Chinese women and abandoned their children of their first marriage back at China. However, they did not forget their children. Being mothers, these women always had their concerns regarding their children back at China. Thus, even after they started a decent living in the United States and had a secured life, they searched for their children. As in the original life of Amy Tan too, she and Daisy traveled to China in search for their siblings. Therefore, the works of Amy Tan clearly portrayed the empathy of a mother to their child, under different contexts. Yes, it is true that they left their children in China, but they were forced to do that because of the Chinese societal norms and their limited say in the society. Hence, they had to leave China to save themselves. However, once they settled in the States, they had a strong attachment to their forsaken children back at China. It was clearly reflected in all the 3 novels and also in the personal life of Amy Tan, that when such women were secure and settled in the United States, they ventured in finding their children in China.
Tan, Amy. “The Joy Luck Club”. 1989
Tan, Amy. “The Bonesetters Daughter”. 2000
Tan, Amy. “The Kitchen God’s Wife”. 1991