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The Chinese-American Background of Amy Tan Has Influenced Her Works

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 07:14 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 64.6 
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An author's cultural background can play a large part in the authors writing. Amy Tan, a Chinese-American woman, uses the cultural values of Chinese women in American culture in her novel, The Joy Luck Club. These cultural values shape the outcome of The Joy Luck Club. The two cultural value systems create conflict between the characters.

In The Joy Luck Club, the chapter "Waiting Between the Trees" illustrates major concerns facing Chinese-American women. Chinese culture is a male dominated culture that leaves women little freedom. Their only job is to make their male spouses content. Living with their traditional culture in American society, Chinese-American women suffer a conflict of culture. While their American husbands are active and assertive, they are passive and place their happiness entirely on the goodness of their spouses. In many cases, this passiveness can be seen as a weakness (Chinese-American Women 1-2) . By looking at two characters from the novel, Ying-Ying and Lena St. Clair, a Chinese mother and a half-Chinese daughter, one can see this conflict more clearly.

Ying-Ying was born to a rich family. She was very pretty when she was a young girl. She was educated like every Chinese woman used to be: To be obedient, to honor one's parents, one's husband and to try to please him and his family. Ying-Ying was not taught to use her own digression and make her own way through life.

The result of this education was a disaster due to the differences in values between the two cultures. Ying-Ying realized that her marriage was a mistake when her husband left her for another woman. Her love for him turned to hate and she killed her unborn baby. She felt great remorse for this and considered herself a murderer. She later remarried a gentleman by the name of St. Clair. With St. Clair she had a daughter. After her second son, which was her third child, died at birth, Ying-Ying had a mental breakdown. She saw his...


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