Amy Tan and Lena Essay

Submitted By mayale
Words: 1012
Pages: 5

Maya Ley
AP English Lang.
Mr. Ramsey
5 March, 2015
The Struggles of Immigrant Mothers Mother-daughter relationships are almost never perfect. They can be especially complicated if each has a complete different mind and view on life. Being raised in different countries can contribute to this conflict, such as the reoccurring issues that arise between the four mother-daughter pairs in The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. The mothers have all been raised in China and suffered greatly as oppressed beings, until escaping to America and facing entirely different problems, including raising their Americanized daughters. The daughters struggle to fully understand their mothers’ intentions and reasons. The language hurdles, cultural barriers, and desire to belong create conflict in communication between the mothers and daughters in the novel. Considering the fact that the mothers struggle with their English while their daughters are uncomfortable with Chinese creates language and communication hurdles. For example, Ying-Ying being married to an American man caused Lena to “make up lies to prevent bad things from happening in the future. [She] often lied when [she] had to translate for [Ying-Ying], the endless forms, instructions, notices from school, telephone calls” (109). Because her mother does not understand or speak English, Lena takes it to her advantage when she translates. However, it backfires because Lena keeps her mother locked away from the truth. Ying-Ying is only aware of what her daughter tells her and Lena is in control of what she wants her mother to know. With such a limited understanding of the truths, the linguistic barrier halts their relationship from developing sufficiently. Likewise, Jingmei Woo could “never remember things [she] didn’t understand in the first place…But listening to Auntie Lin reminded [her] once again: [Suyuan Woo] and [Jing-mei] never really understood one another. [They] translated each other’s meanings and [Jing-mei] seemed to hear less than what she said, while [Suyuan] heard more” (109). Even after her mother’s death, Jing-mei does not know who her mother truly was. The language barrier between them caused them to misunderstand each other’s meanings and twist words into what was easier to comprehend. Therefore, Jing-mei failed to realize her mother’s true meaning and Suyuan did not live to be successful in communicating with her daughter. Clearly, the language barriers resulted in further distance between the moms and daughters. Being raised in two different cultures (American and Chinese) creates a barrier in understanding why they all lead such different lives. For example, “what [Waverly] initially found attractive in Ted were precisely the things that made him different from [her] brothers and Chinese boys…the fact that his parents immigrated from Tarrytown, New York, not Tienstin, China” (123). Waverly, unlike her mother, is not proud of her Chinese culture because she was not raised in China. Instead, she grew up surrounded by white culture while her mother kept her Chinese identity close. This causes her to be unattracted to Chinese boys, and she chooses to lead an American lifestyle with an American husband. Her mother is obviously disapproving of this so they fail to understand each other’s reasons behind decisions. In another scene in the novel “ ‘This is the guest bedroom,’ Lena says in her proud American way. [Ying-Ying] smiles. But to Chinese ways of thinking, the guest bedroom is the best bedroom…[She] do not tell her this” (274). Lena has become more American due to being raised there, to the disappointment of her Chinese mother. Her lifestyle and even manners are American and she has distanced from Chinese culture. This is significant because it has caused her to distance from her mother as well, who has entirely different ideals and values. The fact that they all come from different background, time, and country brings a clash of cultures and minds.
Finally, the feeling…