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The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Literature Analysis Essay


Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club illustrates the experiences of Chinese families, especially the conflict between mothers and daughters. The screen adaption of this literary work also enables the viewers to understand the nature of this conflict. This paper is aimed at comparing and contrasting the novel and its film adaptation. One should focus on two aspects the main themes explored in both works and the way in which characters are developed.

Overall, it is possible to argue that in both cases, much attention should be paid to the nature of cultural and generational conflict between Chinese mothers and their American-born daughters. Nevertheless, there are some important distinctions that should not be overlooked; in particular, the film does not fully explain the motives and experiences of some characters, especially those mothers who need to adjust to a new environment. On the whole, in both case, the audience can learn more about the difficulties encountered by people living in immigrant households, moreover, the audience can empathize for the characters. This is the main thesis that should be examined more closely.

It is possible to mention that the book and the film show that the parental style of Chinese immigrants may differ from that one of Western parents. Moreover, in many cases, the children of immigrants may have conflicts with their parents. For instance, Suyuan wants her daughter June to be trained as a pianist, even though she fails her performance during the concert (Tan 38). In turn, June believes that her mother is too controlling and authoritative. Being too angry with her mother, June says that she wishes to die just like other daughters of Suyuan (The Joy Luck Club).

To a great extent, such a statement can be described as June’s rejection of her mother. This character knows that other parents give more freedom to their children. To a great extent, this disagreement between June and Suyuan illustrate the conflict between Chinese and American cultures. Suyuan represents such values as diligence and respect for parents, whereas June stands for self-sufficiency and equality (Igeleke et al. 238). Thus, one can say that the issues related to cultural conflict is explored in the novel and in the film. In both cases, the authors show how worldviews of children and parents differ from one another. This is one of the details that can be singled out.

However, there is a significant difference in the treatment of the major themes. It should be noted that Amy Tan’s novel lays stress on the importance of story-telling as a means of educating children or establishing a bond between parents and children. Ying-ying chooses to speak about the past in order to warn her daughter Lena about possible pitfalls that she may eventually encounter (Tan 248). In particular, she wants to demonstrate that a woman should not live with an authoritative husband. In contrast, this issue is not sufficiently explored in the movie.

In particular, the screen adaptation does not show how by narrating the stories of their lives, mothers try to establish a stronger bond with their daughters (Wood 83). It should be noted that the daughters depicted Amy Tan do not fully understand why their mothers want to speak about their life in China. This is one of the main details that should not be overlooked.

Additionally, it is necessary to speak about the ways in which the characters are represented in the book and the movie. For instance, one can mention that that June Woo is a person who is in deep conflict with mother. In particular, it seems to her that Suyuan’s criticism implies lack of affection. However, she tacitly admits that she does not know much about the inner world of her mother. In order to illustrate her inner monologue, one can look at the following quote, “What will I say? What can I tell them about my mother? I don’t know anything” (Tan 40).

Moreover, she does not understand why her mother chose to join this club (Tan 40). In turn, the movie also demonstrates that June is estranged from her mother. Moreover, she continuously misinterprets her mother’s intentions and motives. Thus, in both cases, daughters gradually learn more about their mothers. This approach is critical for character development. These are some of the similarities that can be identified.

However, there are some important distinctions that should not be overlooked. In particular, the film does not fully explain the motives of some characters. For instance, one should speak about Ying-Ying’s decision to perform an abortion. The novel tells us that Ying-Ying learns about her husband’s adultery. Nevertheless, this decision is very difficult for her. In turn, the movie does not fully explain her motives and her experiences after this event

Moreover, the film does not fully explain the cultural differences between Chinese women and their American-born daughters. This difference is important for explaining why the representatives of two generations do not fully understand each other. For instance, the book shows that immigrant parents often rely on “Chinese fairy tales” as a method of education (Tan 25). In turn, their children perceive these tales as something alien to them. In their opinion, these narratives are not relevant to the modern-day society.

This is why they do not understand why their mothers attach importance to folk narratives. This aspect is important for showing that the characters have different backgrounds. This is one of the details that should not be overlooked. In contrast, the film does not throw light on this issue. This limitation should be taken into account because the viewers cannot accurately appreciate the differences in the value systems of mothers and their daughters. Thus, the nature of their conflicts or disagreements may not be fully understood.

On the whole, this discussion indicates the novel and the film throw light on the cultural conflict which is typical of many immigrant families. Both works show that the representative of different generations cannot easily reconcile the values of different cultures. Moreover, the movie and the book show how America-born daughters eventually discover the inner world of their mothers.

Nevertheless, there are some important distinctions that should not be overlooked. In particular, the screen adaptation of the novel does not highlight the importance of story-telling as a method of education and persuasion. Furthermore, the movie does not fully explain the differences in the worldviews and perceptions of two generations. Nevertheless, both works throw light on the experiences of immigrant families, especially conflicts that affect such households. Moreover, they prompt the viewers to empathize with the major characters. These are the main arguments that can be put forward.

Works Cited

Igeleke, Ebony, Marie Maya, Kristina Huddleston, and Stephen Five. “Movie Reviews. The Joy Luck Club.” Journal Of Feminist Family Therapy 22.3 (2010): 236-241. CINAHL Complete. Web.

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club, New York: Penguin Books, 2006. Print.

The Joy Luck Club. Ex. Prod. Patrick Markey. Los Angeles: Hollywood Pictures, 1993. DVD.

Wood, Michelle. “Negotiating The Geography Of Mother-Daughter Relationships In Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club..” Midwest Quarterly 54.1 (2012): 82-96. Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 July 2014.

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IvyPanda. (2020, March 30). The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Literature Analysis. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-joy-luck-club-by-amy-tan-literature-analysis/

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"The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Literature Analysis." IvyPanda, 30 Mar. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-joy-luck-club-by-amy-tan-literature-analysis/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Literature Analysis." March 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-joy-luck-club-by-amy-tan-literature-analysis/.


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IvyPanda. "The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Literature Analysis." March 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-joy-luck-club-by-amy-tan-literature-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Literature Analysis." March 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-joy-luck-club-by-amy-tan-literature-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Literature Analysis'. 30 March.

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