The Joy Luck Club has been lavishly praised for its literary techniques One of

The joy luck club has been lavishly praised for its

This preview shows page 114 - 118 out of 147 pages.

The Joy Luck Clubhas been lavishly praised for its literarytechniques. One of the most successful aspects of Tan's techniquesis her use of multiple points of view. Notice how Tan retells eachstory from the mothers' and daughters' points of view. Thisinterweaving of viewpoints underscores the difficulty that themothers and daughters have communicating with one another. Howcouldthey fully understand each other when each is getting only
half the story? Shifting viewpoints also serves to unify the book,develop themes, and heighten reality.This story alludes to Lena St. Clair's "Rice Husband." There, thenarrator is Lena. She opens her story with a description of hermother's ability to see things before they happen. This foreshadowsYing-ying's discovery of Lena's misery. Like Ying-ying, Lena hasbecome a ghost. Both women are suffering from a secret sorrowthesame sorrow. They have made miserable marriages. Ying-ying losther beloved first husband to another woman and was able to loveher second husband only after he died. Lena has subordinated herspirit to her husband and bitterly resents his domination.
Page 62Ying-ying sees her daughter's misery; Lena's husband Harold doesnot. Lena is similarly blind to the reality of her mother. She has noidea of her mother's past. She does not suspect that her mother wasonce married to another man; she has no inkling that her motherhad an abortion. She believes that her father rescued her motherfrom a poor village; she never imagines that her mother was raisedin great wealth. She sees only a frail old lady, not a vigorous, clevertiger. Both stories end the same way; with the poorly balancedtable, a symbol of their lives, crashing to the floor.The symbolism of this story reinforces the theme of appearanceand reality. Lena appears to be happy, but she is miserable. Ying-ying appears to be a frail old lady, but she is really a tiger. The tigeritself is a symbol of duality. The gold and black creature has twosides. The gold side represents its fierce heart; the black side, itscunning and stealth. Like a tiger, Ying-ying appears to be asleepwhen she is awake. She "has one eye asleep, the other open andwatching." Notice how the clever naming of Ying-ying's secondhusband also emphasizes duality. The "St." appears to be a martyr,rescuing his poor wife from a wretched life of misery. Yet it wasYing-ying who decided that it was time to marrynot St. Clair.Even the symbol of the knife and watermelon suggests duality.Ying-ying's first husband plunged the knife into the watermelon tomake a crass joke about her virginity. Later, the same symbolrepresents her abortion.The other primary theme of this section is that strength lies inconfronting the past. That is what Lena has begun to do in "RiceHusband," as she evaluates her life with Harold. She realizes thatshe has sold herself short, that she deserves far better than she has
gotten. Here, Ying-ying determines to gather the threads of her pastand use them as tools to cut her spirit loose. When she has once

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