Joy Luck Club and American Movie Review

Pages: 4 (1471 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Waverly lives with a white boyfriend who her mother Lindo despises and distrusts, and subtly mocks. If America today is a country that values diversity and pluralism, these have never been present in China, which places more emphasis on uniformity (Datesman, p. 28). Even when Rich tries to show good manners at dinner, he never quite gets it right. In Confucian culture, humility is highly valued, not boasting, so he should have learned to praise her cooking when she always insisted that it was of poor quality. Yet when Waverly was a young girl and got her picture in a magazine as a child genius chess player, her mother showed to everyone in the street and mentioned that she had taught her the strategy of the game -- and strategy is very highly valued in Confucian culture. Little Waverly became angry and shouted "if you want to show off, why don't you learn to play chess?" This was a grave insult, humiliation and loss of public face for her mother, who never mentioned chess again. Even when Waverly attempted to play the game later, she found that she had lost all her talent and "could feel myself becoming so ordinary." At the Joy Luck Club, Lindo comments disparagingly one day that "American girls have no strategy."

America has the self-mage of being an open, tolerant, democratic society what promises equal opportunity for all and welcomes immigrants. It also values self-reliance, individualism and hard work, and the American Dream idea of being about to move into the middle class. Of course, the historical reality has been very different since blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans hardly had equal rights or opportunities for most of American history. Indeed, Asians and other 'non-Nordic' immigrants were excluded from, the country by laws like the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1883 and the National Origins Act of 1924. All the mothers and daughters in the film have certainly experienced racism and discrimination, even though it is usually downplayed in mass market movies like these. Unlike China, though, the U.S. is a society of immigrants and only 11% of Americans could even imagine living elsewhere (Datesman, p. 33). Americans do tend to believe that with hard work they can enter the middle class, and the Asian women portrayed in this film have indeed worked hard all their lives, and at least have hopes that their daughters will end up doing even better. Hard work, duty and diligence are also a very important part of the Confucian culture that produced them, even though it most definitely does not value individualism, equal opportunity or self-reliance like American culture. According to public opinion polls, most Americans still believe that "each individual should have an equal chance for success," although obviously they realize that some are born with inherited wealth and power, or that others are held back by color, age or ethnicity (Datesman 31).

Section three (1-2 paragraph interpretation, synthesis): Explain and discuss what you learned from this movie concerning American Culture. For example, maybe you learned that even though Americans tend to be individualistic, some parents still try to influence their children's lives and the children decide to do what is best for the family instead of themselves. Also, discuss anything that was confusing for you or seemed strange.

I understand something about Confucian culture in East Asia and how very different it is from the individualism and pluralism of the West, so the behavior of the Chinese mothers is not particularly mysterious to me. Their core values are collectivist and group-oriented rather than individualistic, and they value honor, duty, diligence, obedience and hierarchy rather than personal freedom, success or happiness. Nor do they assume that women are equal to men, but rather that they are subordinate to fathers and husbands and have certain duties in the family. Their daughters are Americanized and Westernized, and sometimes even have white boyfriends or husbands, as does Ying-ying, the weakest and most passive of the older generation characters. Their children do place far more value on freedom, independence, self-reliance and individual happiness, and often have great difficulty comprehending the culture of their mothers, such as their Confucian discipline and self-control or the concealment of emotions and personal desires.

REFERENCES

Datesman, M.K. et al. (2005). American Ways: An Introduction to American Culture, 3rd Edition. Pearson… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Joy Luck Club and American.  (2012, April 15).  Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/joy-luck-club-american/3842982

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"Joy Luck Club and American."  Essaytown.com.  April 15, 2012.  Accessed February 17, 2019.
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