The Joy Luck Club

Intergenerational Relations in “Rules of the Game”

Intergenerational relations between mothers and daughters are further complicated in The Joy Luck Club as cultural differences come into play for the first generation Chinese immigrant mother and her Americanized daughter. This is clearly brought out when Lindo Jong shows off her daughter at the market, announcing “to whoever looked her way” that “this is [her] daughter Wave-ly Jong” (90), but her behavior is only met with resentment from Waverly as she wished her mother “wouldn’t do that” (91) and sees accompanying her to the market as a “duty [she] couldn’t avoid” (90). Using this scene, Tan plays out the mother-daughter tension, as Lindo’s older generation Chinese mindset that a child’s success is a reflection of good parenting comes clashes with Waverly’s Americanized thinking that one’s success belongs to one alone. The daughter’s struggle for a separate identity from her mother brings forth the idea that the older generation views a mother and daughter as one entity, but through young Waverly’s western perspective, this is a threat to her individuality, apparent when she retorts to Lindo “if you want to show off, then why don’t you learn to play chess” (91). The distance between the pair is two-fold, as not only is Lindo...

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