Reading Club: The Joy Luck Club 2

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Grant: Hello everyone, I am grant, the host of the club, and let’s welcome our guests today, Bill and Alex. Hello, Bill hello, Alex!

Bill and Alex: Hello, grant!
Bill: Hey guys,today we are going to share a book called ‘the joy luck club’ with you. Hope you will fall in love with it after our sharing!
Grant: Yes, This famous book written by Amy Tan, who is an outstanding American female writer born in 1952, tells the story about two generations of females who came to America during WW2 from China and who were born in American by their Chinese mothers. The conflict between the conservative Chinese culture and the active and trendy American culture is reflected by the plot of the book; the hard life that the female immigrants endured with the strong support they gave to each other and the daily contradiction between these immigrants are also depicted in detail in this book. As you read the book, you would definitely be touched by the vivid description of the life of the characters as well as the fancy frame and organization of the book.
Bill: Yes, the book is absolutely fantastic and attractive. It is also very informative for its detailed discussion on its multiple themes such as the marriage failure, the influence of the feudalism rules on Chinese women, the importance of the origin and the motherland of a person and so on.
Grant: Let’s have a talk on these main subjects that the book discusses. Bill, which subject attracts you the most?
Bill:One of the themes that attracts me the most is the marriage failure, which occurs on both the first generation and the second generation. The second part of the book mainly talks about the marriage failure or misunderstanding in marriage of the second generation, which are representative reflections and examples of the conflicting marriage between Chinese woman and foreign men such as Americans or European immigrants in the US. They marriage failure is no doubt the result of the conflict between the western and the Chinese culture. However, the fight for freedom and independence of the Chinese wives or the wisdom of the first generation which finally solved the problem in the marriage crisis always follow the depiction of the conflict, which effectively points the way of being strong in front of others’ control or under the background of the cultural weakness.
 Grant: Well, I am not quite sure about your point, could you give us some specific examples about it?
 Bill:OK. Well, for example, one of the daughters of the first generation held an embarrassing meet between her boyfriend and her mother, who is a tough and outspoken old Chinese woman. At first her mother would always change the topic whenever the character talked about her boyfriend, which rendered the character unsure about her mother’s attitude, and then during the dinner, her boyfriend did a lot of things that violate the character’s parents’ favor while she told him how to behave during the dinner. This made the character very intense an unhappy with her boyfriend, but when she met her mother in the second day, her mother just told her that she actually cared more about more important events in her own family rather than the character’s boyfriend, and she didn’t mean that the boy was not fit her favor. It is in fact the cultural and Chinese conventional restrains within the character’s mind that made her uneasy and created that misunderstanding. This crisis finally was solved by the negotiation of two different values. In another example, another character got married to an American man whose personality was tough and mean, and after many years she finally decided to divorce with her husband because of the conflict between her husband and herself.   At that time, she found her husband leave a 10-thousand-dollar bill to her, and her husband was about to sweep her out of their house with the temptation of the bill. At first, she had no idea how to deal with this tangled problem because her husband was determined and she loved their house very much. Her mother told her to be strong and to fight for her own interest and well being. Finally, when her husband commanded her to go out, she said that she had found her new house, while the new house was exactly their house, and she also announced to him that neither she would leave the house, nor she would obey his unreasonable commanding any more. Her husband’s majesty and unreasonable commanding were destroyed by the character’s change. Finally, she won the fighting and retrieved her deserving benefit and dignity from her husband.
 Grant: So, in your opinion, the examples basically reveal the struggle of Chinese women in face of inequality in marriage, right?
 Bill: Yes. These vivid example show the growth of the second generation and the wisdom of the traditional Chinese women, which reminds us a way of being independent and fighting for women’s interest in the marriage with women’s wisdom, a Chinese style, and a neutral but determined attitude. This could also encourage women readers to fight for their own interest, and these examples actually teach a lesson to men who are about to get marriage and who have been married, which tells them how to correctly communicate with their wives or girlfriends to avoid a marriage crisis or misunderstanding.
Grant: Thank you, Bill. Alex, do you have something to share with us?
Alex: Yes. In the joy luck club, the main purpose, which extended from the beginning to the last is the unhappiness of the women.
 Bill: You mean they are not happy even if they migrate?
 Alex: They are, somehow happy, at least happier than at their homeland, China. However, some misfortune they could have avoid, such as marrying someone she did not love that much, and others are carried with them, no matter where they are. Among these, the tradition of old Chinese culture had the worst effect on them. They had faced their daily lives the same as they were in China, as they were spectated by someone else, or perhaps some families as well. They could avoid these things and live a new life, however, those who settled there as the pioneers also carried their bias there, which is corresponding with Chinese culture but just in contrast with the American ones.
These tradition of following the ancient rules in one culture is favorable only if they did not migrate. However, if they were in another culture but could not get rid of their original style, they would not blend in the newer environment and lives a miserable life. They could live their peace and end their life like that. However, their offspring could not do so. Those among the second generation tend to accept both the American values as well as the Chinese ones. They were not that mature to balance the two cultures inside themselves -they also needed to pursue their mothers! They tend to have confliction deep in their mind, whether to follow the old instruction or to find their won way. That is why the secondary immigrants, the women could not find their happiness.
Grant: Whether the phenomenon is just a plot, or is it general among all the immigrants?
 Alex: In my opinion, the answer depends. Civilization and civilization are different, while different people from different civilization would more divert the answer. In general, the more the civilization holds their tradition and worship their ancestors, the harder for them to emigrant. The more the person is obeying and stubborn, the less he would accept the newer things. Some people tend to practice such predictions, and Chinese are among them. Chinese people tend to have language, which is different than Latin and all that generate from Latin. Then, Chinese people worship their ancestors and have the tradition to honor their tombs. Finally, Chinese society is highly coherent, in which one’s surrounding plays an important role in them. The other that is very similar is the Jewish people. The difference is that Jewish people have their Bible, but Chinese people do not use so precise religion to bind one to their culture.
That is why the joy luck club is representative. It represents a bunch of people, not only some Chinese families but merely half the world.
Bill: Wow Alex, you have a more comprehensive understanding than I do, I think that you could blend your broad knowledge to your understanding to the book! That’s what I should study more!
Alex: Oh thank you! I think your analysis is also very representative
Grant: Yeah,I agree with you bill! It could actually help a lot for looking into the pages rather than just memorizing the plot
Grant: Thank you Alex, thank you guys for listening carefully. after your sharing, I felt that my understanding of this book was deepened a lot. All in all, the joy luck club was an excellent book, and the special value it reflects is particularly important for readers nowadays. Next time, there would be more masterpieces shared by our club, remember to read with us and learn together at this reading club!

Grant, Alex, and Bill: See you!

 

编者按
上期读书会是四位女生,本期是三个大男孩,继续讨论谭恩美的《喜福会》,男孩的理解与女孩有所不同,他们更多的是探讨了中西文化冲突下二代移民婚姻失败的原因、中国传统思想对女性的束缚,以及寻根等话题。毕竟都是高中生,理解上受年龄的限制,但是也正是我们的读书会的特色,高中生谈文学,欢迎大家收听。

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