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“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan Essay

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Updated: Oct 2nd, 2021

List the title, author, and main characters (protagonist and/or antagonist) of the book.

Title of the Book: The Joy Luck Club

Author: Amy Tan

Main Characters:

An-Mei Hsu (Protagonist)

Lindo Jong (Protagonist)

Waverly Jong (Protagonist)

Rose Hsu Jordan (Protagonist)

Lena St. Clair (Protagonist)

Ying-Ying St. Clair (Protagonist)

Jing-Mei Woo (Protagonist)

Suyuan Woo (Protagonist)


Mothers & daughters are protagonists in the novel. All are in favor of Chinese culture and members of The Joy Luck Club.


The antagonist is the war that comes in the hurdle of Suyuan and forced her to leave her homeland China and her twin daughters.

What were your feelings after reading the first chapter of this book? Why?

The readers feel sadness, loneliness, hollowness, and nothingness in the life of Chinese women who are living their life in America, San Francisco after war-ravaged in 1949. Jing-Mei is the main role in this book whose mother, Suyuan Woo dies due to a severe attack of cerebral aneurysm. We feel the estrangement between mother-daughter relationships as this is expressed by Jing-Mei Woo herself too. “Over the years, she told me the same story, except for the ending, which grew darker, casting long shadows into her life, and eventually into mine” (Chapter 1, pg. 21).

There is a generation gap between old and new ones as both mothers and daughters are unable to communicate their exact thoughts and feelings to each other plainly. There is also a difference between the two civilizations, western and Chinese, the mothers belonged to Chinese culture and want to be in touch with it but daughters are ignorant of all such cultural perspectives of china. The influences of past stories of their life have been still intact and they couldn’t escape them from these past bitter realities of life that’s why their life is full of sorrows and pains!

Did the book make you laugh? Cry? Cringe? Smile? Cheer? Explain your reaction.

The book has serious thematic concerns of life, provoking our thoughtful ideas about the bitterness of life of the Chinese people who take refuge in an American city, San Francisco. “I wanted my children to have the best combination: American circumstances and Chinese character. How could I know these things do not mix” (Chapter 15, pg. 254)? All characters of the novel are depicted as the embodiment of grief-stricken and alien individuals who don’t find any destination in the American cultural setup. It depicts the deplorable state of mind of the people who still feel alienated in spite of living so long in the American civilized social setup.

What connections are there between the book and your own life? (Please give a general answer)

The book demonstrates the realities of common human life, showing the pain, sorrows, bitterness, hollowness, and helplessness of the individuals who lead a life in foreign lands. It is a life of the postwar generation who still recall their past memories and lifestyle in their beloved country, china.

The origin of birthplace and cultural influences always has deep impacts upon human life and they never get rid of their patriotism and homesickness when they are out of place. “Just as they were divided between American and Chinese culture, Rich, Waverly, and Lindo connect over it. The couple decides to have their honeymoon in China, and they are even considering all going together. Lindo needed to be reassured that the American Rich could fit into her life and that Waverly understood her Chinese heritage. Once they understood this, their differences began to disappear” (chapter 10, China/America 6). The book proves that human blood relations are too strong to break off them and if it happens, there would be painful loneliness and disintegration in the minds of the individuals.

What parts in the book seem most believable? Why? What parts seem unbelievable? Why?

The parts of the book seem unbelievable where the abandoned babies of Suyuan were found by Suyuan and her new husband during the visit to Kweilin. How it is possible that she recognizes the couples to whom she has given her babies in a helpless state during the Japanese invasion. She comes back after so long time from America, having no clues to find out her lost babies. The process of self-recognition and self-identification of Jing-Mei after her mother’s death gives a credible touch to the story of the novel, a vital part of the novel.

Do you like the way the book ended? Why or why not? Do you think there is more to tell? What do you think might happen next or what else would you like to learn?

Jing-Mei departs to her motherly land, china to meet her sisters by saying goodbye to her father’s family at the airport at the end of the book. She realizes the fact that it is impossible to ignore the facts of life by merging both civilizations, western and eastern into each other. She thinks that Chinese culture is better to understand rather than American. She comes into consciousness by seeing all realities with open eyes and it is a highly recommendable process of self-realization and self-identification. Now Jing-Mei can see everything clearly in the light of past and present life happenings after reaching china and now she realizes the true worth of her mother with whom her relation had not to be established in good terms.

The plot construction of the story is fine, having a distinction between all parts of the books, beginning, middle, and ending. Everything is explored obviously and there is nothing left to be explained more and it is the perfect end of the story.


by Amy Tan. 2008. Web.

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