Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club"

Amy Tan's famous novel "The Joy Luck Club". Told in a non-linear fashion, in the form of vignettes, the story focuses on four mothers and their daughters. The tension between mothers and daughters brought about by immigration from China to the US has been poetically and poignantly presented in the novel. The first generation of immigrants always struggles in a new land while the second generation can adapt to the land more easily. The same happens here. Mothers still nurture love for China and feel estranged in the US while China is a distant land and Chinese culture is strange for the daughters. The mothers had to face many hardships in China, in the form of cruel patriarchal values, indigence, Japanese occupation and so on. The daughters in America face the precarious relationship problems with their spouses brought about mainly by cultural differences. They also feel that they are oppressed by their mothers, Electra Complex plays a role here. Mothers also feel that their daughters look down upon them for their lack of adaptation to a new culture even after a long time. Thus, there is tension among the characters. The principal female characters have certain amount of agency but they are psychologically scarred. Amy Tan has a good gift of language which makes this novel a pleasing read despite its gloomy ambiance. 
The novel is a landmark in feminist literature in the sense that it brings matrilinear discourse to the fore. Mothers and daughters dominate the narrative. Chinese belief in fables and storytelling with full of supernatural characters also gets space in the story and this challenge to cold rationality of the west pleased me.

No comments: