The Joy Luck Club

In the Joy Luck Club, how are the notions of balance (yin and yang) and energy flow (feng shui) an important theme in the novel?

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Surroundings and settings represent the state of things in the characters' lives. The first example of this pattern is the caves of Kweilin. When life is peaceful, they are breathtaking and wondrous, but during wartime they represent terror. While the caves protect the citizens of Kweilin, they make them all the more aware of their confinement and lack of freedom. Ying-ying sees this dichotomy in Lena's house. Signs of an unhappy marriage are reflected in the fact that the architecture and decoration are pretty but lack function. The irony, of course, is that both husband and wife work in architecture. They have all the skills to build a strong house and a strong marriage, but they cannot seem to use them. The unstable table represents the whole house and whole marriage. Like Harold and Lena's marriage, it has sentimental value and once seemed like the best table ever built. Now its flaws are all too obvious. Like the luxuries in the Huang household, those in Harold and Lena's house are just a cover for how things have gone rotten from the inside out. There is similar symbolism in Ted and Rose's garden. The house again represents marital unhappiness. It is as though when a couple does not address their flaws, the problems seep into their homes. Rose is like the garden she lets go to ruin; she is tired of having her hopes and self-worth pruned back by Ted. She must be like the weeds that creep into the stonework and eventually tear down the house and all it represents.