American Identity In Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club

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The United States is known to many immigrants as the Land of Opportunity, after all, it was founded by British immigrants in the 18th century. As the United States developed as a nation, the people worked to find an American identity. Following World War II, the U.S. experienced a major cultural shift. Many people tried to conform to the new identity that was laid out for them, but for those who had recently immigrated, they struggled to maintain their own cultural identity, and fit in with the conformity-crazed, 1950s American society. In the novel, The Joy Luck Club, the relationship between four mother-daughter pairs is analyzed through the traditional Chinese beliefs upheld by the mothers and the newly defined American identity that…show more content…
Suyuan’s backstory is explored because the reader is to infer that she truly appreciates everything that she has in the present. Her Chinese beliefs, clash with her American-born, teenage daughter’s when she begs for a radio transmitter. In the 1950s, radio transmitters were a fad, and in order to conform with everyone else, others were encouraged to buy one. However, Jing-mei’s persistence is met with a few sharp words, “Why do you think you are missing something you never had?” (24). Jing-mei and her mother do not quite see eye-to-eye, until after Suyuan’s passing and Jing-mei learns the whole truth about her mother and the daughters she left on the side of the road in Kweilin. Also, Suyuan pressures her daughter to be successful at something, but she is met with great resistance. It is often generalized and in many ways very true, that Chinese mothers are persistent about their children finding success. Suyuan’s traditional belief is likely enhanced, since she lost the opportunity to raise her other daughters back in China. At one point in the story, Jing-mei wishes she were dead, like the babies her mother left behind, after she becomes drained of her mother’s nagging and encouragement to fit a Chinese mold. Little does Jing-mei know, the babies survived, and she would later meet them. Upon returning to China with her father, Jing-mei learns the rest of her mother’s past, and her desperate search for the babies she could no longer carry during her flee. Once Jing-mei has this knowledge, she is filled with a sense of guilt because she wonders if the thought that her mother’s babies might have died ultimately killed her. “So when I said it was too late, that must have put a terrible thought in her head that her daughters might be dead. And I think this

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