The Joy luck club is a film that presents the lives of four Chinese women who have migrated to America and their daughters who are born in America. The film depicts the women’s differences in how they view the world and their stands on the Chinese culture. The daughters have their own view of life and they want their mothers to adapt to this system. The Joy Luck club is a film that coins its name from a club that was formed in China by one of the mother’s called Suyuan Woo. The club was continued when Suyuan moved to the US so that she could bring back the joy and hope for the family and friends of the Chinese. The four women who act in this film are Kieu Chinh real name Suyuan Woo, Tsai Chin whose real name is Lindo, France Nuyen whose name is Ying Ying and Lisa Lu whose real name is An Mei (Smith, 2003). There are other actors also in the film but who are part of the film but the significant part of it involves the four women.
In the beginning to the end of the film, Suyuan Woo tells the story of the Joy Luck Club and says that the memories of her mother make her remember the perilous times in China. She says ‘We laughed and feasted, played games and won or lost at times depending on our luck…we had the hope of being lucky’ (12). Chinese daughters were raised never to forget their way of life and she says that the desire to eat other people’s bitterness and swallow other people’s miseries should not be desired by a Chinese daughters. These four old women regualarly meet to play and tell stories about how they were brought up in china. They are currently living in San Fransisco and they have daughters who are Chinese-American. This film explores the themes of cultural conflicts and the battle for identity as is evident between the daughters and their mother.
This film exhibits several themes that were highlighted by Amy Tan in her novel “the Joy Luck Club” and is a novel has discussed so much on the relationship between a mother and a daughter who happen to have their origin from China and they are settling in America. Gender roles and stratification is very evident this film. The women are perceived to be the key people who influence the behaviours of children in the society.
Throughout this film the male has been perceived as a being whose role is only to reproduce but the roles of coming up with the child depends upon the mother. Since the daughters are young enough and are curious to learn what is good about the American culture, they keep on demanding their mothers to be allowed the freedom to explore and learn the American culture by doing what they feel is right for them. They no longer want to be followed and dictated in their ways just as the American girl is treated. Contrary to their requests, the mothers decline and tell their daughters that the only thing that they allow is to be obedient in the homesteads and not to do their own things. This form of restriction is based on the fact that the mother knows the child will develop some other norms that are not desirable. The daughters battle with their mothers with this issue but when they realize that it’s for their own good they appreciate and thank their mothers for upholding their Chinese culture which they term it as good and desirable for them.
Another theme that is evident in this film is search for identity. The characters are in a constant look for their identity. Issues of cultural diversity are so evident, causing conflicts between the characters in the film. Lindo Jong in this film who is forced to an earlier marriage swears not to forget her roots because of the trauma that he gets from the family she is forced to. Ying ying almost became insane because of the betrayal and loss that she gets in her life. Many individuals often do not know who they are until when they have seen the negative impacts of the direction they want to take. Without the guidance of the elders and leaders in the society and also the parents, it would be so difficult to know the identity of a person. The clash in the values often arise when an individual has visited another country and ha or she feels that his origin does not matter anymore. Often the identity of an individual may fade away by being absorbed by the new changes in the new environment.
The case is the same in this film. The writer of the script describes the battle for identity by a girl from the Chinese origin who lives in America. He argues that there are numerous conditions that shape the lives of individuals to be the way they are. The family’s surroundings and relationships really matter in determing the identity of an individual. In this film the characters are said to be from the same origin i.e. they are all from china and therefore they all have the same problem of identity in the United States. The daughters of Chinese in America are battling with the issues of identity crisis so much. They are on an ongoing discovery for discovery of who they are and in the process they want to adopt the culture and the identity of the Americans because they feel that there identity are more favourable.
The theme of Global stratification is also so evident in the film of the Joy Luck Club. The problem of cultural diversity and search for identity seem to be issues that affected all across the world. The problems therefore face every individual who comes from a certain background and have gone to another country or state. June and her mother for example are not the only affected people in the play but the entire population of Chinese women in America are affected by this issue. Regardless of their migration to America, the Chinese women value their culture so much. The film has the connotation that the daughters are ignorant and are unmindful of hopes and truths that they brought to America. The women are know very well that they cannot manage their daughters but they try to find ways that they can resolve this issue. This film is just a reflection what people feel when they go to a native land and they get there children there, there is ought to be a gulf between such families. The Chinese children in this film want to become Americanized yet there are a set of their elders interest in which they need to follow, this implies following their root culture and avoiding conflicts with their parents.
The daughters do not know who they are and what they represent. In the quest for knowing therefore they keep on insisting to their mothers that they want to be like the Americans to which they are refused. The basic reason is that the mother’s belief that the issues of identity are very important and need to be preserved. Later on however when the girls have grown they realize that their roots are very important and that what the mothers were simply arguing for is important and since it defines their identity and who they are. The mothers are however bewildered and they struggle with their daughters to instill their own cultures because they know that they will be misled if they do not follow them. The mothers having in mind that the culture affects the youth today are so worried that their daughters will be badly influenced by the American culture. The film best describes the American culture as stereotyped and has sinister thoughts for a person.
Communication and cultural differences between the daughters and mothers is the Joy Luck Club. The cultural values and issues of ethnocentrism are widely depicted where the daughters are reflected to have been swayed by the customs and the values of the Americans. The surrounding perhaps is what has made the daughters change and the relationship in which they involve themselves in is what makes them feel like their Chinese culture is what is making them feel superior (Chow, 1998). Communication is also an issue that goes with culture and is one of the important factors in every community. In this film, the theme of cultural values has been descried to have made the daughters from china to even change their language. The significance of their Chinese language has gone away and they no longer value it. The women are therefore concerned because they know, communication especially in one’s own mother language is important because it’s a vessel of communication. The daughters even laugh at their mothers when the talk in broken English, a language that the feel is not their own. They learn later that their language is also important like any other language. Communication is seen as a barrier that hinders communication and thus development of a particular group of individuals. In this film the author describes how the issue of communication barriers can be disastrous especially for the new Chinese families in America. The daughters of the Chinese women perceive their mothers to be stupid since they speak in broken English. The mothers on the other had are so concerned because they fear that the generation of the grandchildren will not be connected from one generation to another.
The Joy Luck Club is one good example of the conflicts that an individual portrays as regards his identity development. Structural functionalists often hold that the individuals own understanding of the world and the decisions they make cannot be easily changed. The behaviour of an individual is therefore dependent on the personal decisions that he or she makes. In this film, the women portray a situation in which they stand on their own principles and cannot be swayed regardless of their new rules and customs. They therefore represent the structural functionalists. The daughters on the other hand are the vice versa because they want to follow what the world if offering them (Rollins, 2004). This issue complies well with the symbolic integrationists who described the process of formation of identity as a combination of several factors in the immediate environment.
The other members of the population of America have influenced the girl as from Chinese and they feel that they should be part of the culture that is good for them. This is normally a misleading fact especially if the identity that one is taking is not the desired one. On the other hand social conflict occurs when the individual battles with his views while the society is expecting something different. The battle between the individuals stand on his identity and the influence on the environmental and other factors is said to give a common stand at the end of the day. The girls in this film later come down and thank their mothers for their insisting on the cultures of their roots since they value it more than the American ways.