The Joy Luck Club

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The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club
By Amy Tan
Is it fair to judge someone by their sex? In traditional Chinese culture, many
judgments were made about a person just by observing their sex. The woman was looked
upon as an inferior being. They had little or no status in society, and little was expected
from them. They were discriminated against when they tried to stand up for themselves.
Chinese culture was customarily male dominated. The male was expected to do most of
the work, and the woman was expected to stay at home with their mouth shut. This
custom leaves an unwelcome feeling in a woman’s heart. They feel like no one cares, and
it makes it much harder to live with an optimistic view on life. In the novel, The Joy Luck
Club, by Amy Tan, reviews the lives of three Chinese women, Ann-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jong,
and Ying Ying St. Clair. These women grow up in traditional Chinese homes, where
there is sexism. They deal with serious problems that corrupt their lives. Through
perseverance and the passing of time their lives return to normal. Ann-Mei, Lindo, and
Ying Ying are subjugated by males because of their sex, and Chinese tradition.
Ann-Mei was oppressed in many ways. Her mother was invited to spend time at
the home of a wealthy merchant named Wu Tsing. At night he would come into
Ann-Mei’s mother’s room and rape her. Despite emotionally scaring Ann-Mei this
demonstrates the lack of respect for a women in China. Ann-Mei’s mother is forced into
concubinage because of her lack of power as a women. She becomes the third wife. As a
third wife she maintains very little status in the home of Wu Tsing. Ann-Mei’s family
disowns her mother because by becoming a third wife she has brought shame to her
family. “When I was a young girl in China, my grandmother told me my mother was a
ghost”. Ann-Mei is told to forget about her mother and move on in her life. The fact that
Ann-Mei is told to forget her mother because she has become something she could not
control, is preposterous. She was raped and forced into concubinage. The lack of
appreciation for a female causes this feeling of shame for the Mei family. Since rape and
polygamy is accepted in China, it makes it appear that what Ann-Mei’s mother has done is
wrong, and what Wu Tsing did was right and normal. Ann-Mei’s daughter Rose, reaps the
disadvantages of being a woman because she feels that she can’t make decisions. “...Ted
decided where we went on vacation. He decided what new furniture we should buy...We
used to discuss some of these matters, but we both knew the question would boil down to
my saying, ‘Ted, you decide.’” This illustrates Rose’s disability to be assertive, and her
dependence on a male. The life of Ann-Mei demonstrated how women were undervalued
in society.
The story of Lindo Jong allegorizes how women were discriminated against. At
the very young age of twelve, Lindo is betrothed to Tyan-yu. This is an example of the
insignificance of a female’s feelings. Nobody wants to have an arranged marriage.
Marriage is sacred, and is supposed to be exercised by two people who are in love with
each other. This is an act of extreme unfairness to Lindo. This shows how an accepted
Chinese practice is in actuality hurtful toward the female sex. “I [Lindo] once sacrificed
my life to keep my parents’ promise”. Here, Lindo is talking about her arranged, loveless
marriage. Chinese tradition is restricting Lindo from being her own person, and living her
own life. She is unable to make her own decisions. Lindo is so willing to sacrifice her life
in order to preserve the honor of her parents. There is no honor in forcing someone to be
unhappy. On another note, Lindo was quickly blamed for not having children. Actually,
their lack of offspring resulted from Tyan-yu’s lack of interaction with Lindo. It was
impossible for Lindo to stand up for herself because no matter what, the male would be
believed over the female. Lindo is a perfect example of how Chinese tradition prohibited
the female

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