The Joy Luck Club

What Lesson Does The Story Of The Swan Teach?

Feathers From A Thousand Li Away

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Jing-mei's and An-mei's stories show how part of the burden of being a woman is enduring pain for the sake of others, especially one's mother and daughters. The mother is like the duck, but with the help of guidance and privilege, the daughter could become the swan that she could not. In having such high hopes for her daughter, the mother unknowingly places a heavy burden on her. Now the daughter must become "more than was hoped for" or have failed her mother...All she has to guide her are her mother's memories. They are only small parts of her mother's experience, just as the swan feather is a small part of the swan. The feather represents the swan, but one cannot possibly understand a swan by examining a single feather. This pattern creates tension between the generations, because neither can understand the other fully.

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