Free The Joy Luck Club Essay Sample

  1. The scene in which June takes her deceased mother’s seat at the table of the Joy Luck Club depicts generational differences in acculturation between the characters.  While sitting with her mother’s life-long friends, June’s observations are being recorded through the camera lens.  Her not being too familiar with the traditional Chinese game is the first difference as she grew up as an American girl and is familiar with American games and her comment about having Jewish and American college friends shows that she went outside her Chinese social boundaries.  Furthermore, Linda’s comment about the Jewish version of the game shows how she distinguishes and takes pride in the Chinese culture- separated from others.  She also points out that Americanized girls like June cannot tell the cultural differences between the games since it is not important for them.  The older women see their own daughters in June and realize that their daughters do not realize the sacrifices they made to come to America along with the aspirations they brought.  When the older women speak Chinese, June cannot understand them and this shows another acculturation example where the younger generation is the newer Americanized version of their mothers.

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  1. The “Best Quality” scene, the one in which June confronts her mother about always wanting her to be the best highlights two different cultural contexts.  The first context is the argument between Waverly and June which shows how them arguing over work issues, dealing with the American work environment.  The other context is when June confronts her mother about insulting her in front of June and from this confrontation, she pours out her feelings about how she always felt in competition with Waverly because of her mother’s pressure on her to do perfectly in everything even though she could not.  Both women view this claim in varying contexts and both understand the other’s view for the first time.  June discovers that her mother realizes who she is and says that it is what makes June the best (her best quality heart) and different.  Her mother also realizes that June felt pressurized and through this communication, they were able to bridge the cultural gap.  The cultural contexts had affected the characters differently since June was afraid of disappointing her mother and her mother never expressed her appreciation for June.  This led to the large gap between mother and daughter which kept them reserved from each other for a long time. 
  2. The piano scene shows varying communication styles among individuals and cultures.  Mr. Chong is physically unable to communicate well because he is partially deaf; June’s mother and Linda have heavy accents while Waverly and June are fluent in English yet unable to speak Chinese.  These communication differences correspond with cultural ones.  The styles vary as well as the two older women brag their daughters’ successes as a means of increasing their own self-worth and their poor English shows they are having a hard time assimilating into American culture.  June’s style of communication shows her defiance to her heritage, to her mother’s demands and also her Americanization.  By yelling and talking back to her mom, she is showing that she wants to be independent unlike her mother’s demand for her to be obedient.  Her style also distanced her more from her mother since her mother could not handle this strange new reaction well. 
  3. The scene in which Rose meets Ted’s parents at their party depicts gender roles very well.  After meeting Rose, Ted’s mother tries to warn her about the racism involved in Ted’s life- by others.  She displays cultural ignorance by calling Rose Vietnamese and pretty much tells her that people Ted associates with (ex: business partners, elite class) will not approve Ted dating/marrying someone who is not Caucasian.  This says a lot about her role as a woman since woman are generally depicted as the ones who need to do the “dirty work” or be social.  As for Ted, he carries out the male role of rescuer who comes to the woman’s aid in times of distress.  Rose is another typical presentation of how gender roles may play out since she is timid and cannot stand up for her without Ted’s help.  Throughout the story, this affects Rose as she gets buried even further into this gender role and is quiet passive, always following the man’s lead. 
  4. A scene showing different cultural customs and expectations is when Waverly’s boyfriend, Richard, has dinner with Waverly’s family.  Waverly did not educate Richard well beforehand and because of this lack of communication, he was unaware of how he was breaking important etiquette rules.  For instance, he drank more than what was considered polite, falsely bragged about being able to eat with chopsticks, took a lot of the best dish before others had had a serving and ended up unintentionally insulting Linda’s cooking.  Waverly’s family was shocked, especially since they did not fully approve him being Waverly’s boyfriend in the first place.  Even though he was unaware of the various customs, Waverly had been expected to give him the knowledge.  Since Waverly grew up as an American, she had a careless attitude towards such customs and would have pardoned them.  However, the older generation considered these customs to be valuable and therefore could not understand why they were not respected, by both Richard and Waverly (since she did not feel they were important enough to let Richard know ahead of time). 

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