The Joy Luck Club

In Chapter 15 of the Joy Luck Club. What does it mean to put on one's American face?

Chinese face? American face? Symbolism?

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Having a "Double Face," as the chapter title suggests, can mean being isolated from both cultures. But a "double face" also creates an advantage. Just as a tiger's two-colored stripes let it stalk its prey unseen, a person can use her Chinese face in some situations and her American face in others (even if she cannot fully pass as either). Inherent in this idea, though is the negative connotation of "two-faced"; as we have seen, the daughters do view their mothers as deceptive and threatening at times. Even though Lindo and Waverly do not achieve a perfect mutual understanding by the end of the novel, they have a revelation by looking at their two faces, literally, in the mirror. While Waverly often acts ashamed of her mother and the culture she represents, she now sees how much she is like Lindo, flaws and all. Like the daughter in the prologue, Lindo and Waverly look into the mirror and see not only their own faces reflected, but all the past hopes of their mothers and the future hopes of their daughters. Just as Waverly sees her mother's face in her own, when the three sisters watch the Polaroid picture of themselves develop, their images emerge like ghosts from the mist until they form one clear image, that of Suyuan. Ironically, only by examining each other in a superficial, indirect manner-in a mirror or photograph- do the characters finally understand each other. They are looking beyond immediate physical similarities and seeing symbols of intergenerational unities.