The character list is divided into four sections, according
to the mother-daughter pairs who narrate The Joy Luck Club’s
sixteen stories. Each family’s list includes family members along
with other characters associated with the family or who appear exclusively
in the family’s stories.
Jing-mei (June) Woo
Jing-mei Woo is the newest member of the Joy Luck
Club, having taken her mother Suyuan’s place after her death. The
other members of the Joy Luck Club give her money to travel to China
so that she can find her mother’s long-lost twin daughters, Chwun
Yu and Chwun Hwa, and tell them Suyuan’s story, but Jing-mei fears
that she is not up to the task. See “Analysis of Major Characters.”
in-depth analysis of Jing-mei (June) Woo.
Woo was Jing-mei’s mother and the founder of the Joy Luck Club,
a group of women who come together once weekly to play mahjong.
She started the club in China, in the early days of her first marriage. During
her flight from a war-torn area of China, Suyuan lost her twin daughters,
Chwun Yu and Chwun Hwa. In San Francisco, Suyuan revived the Joy
Luck Club with Lindo, An-mei, and Ying-ying. See “Analysis of Major
in-depth analysis of Suyuan Woo.
Woo is Suyuan’s second husband and father of her daughter Jing-mei.
He met Suyuan in the hospital in Chungking, where she recovered
from her flight from Kweilin. After Suyuan’s death, he travels to China
with Jing-mei to meet her children.
Wang Chwun Yu and Wang Chwun Hwa Chwun
Yu and Chwun Hwa are Suyuan’s twin daughters by
her first husband, Wang Fuchi; they are the half-sisters of Jing-mei.
When an officer warned Suyuan to go to Chungking with her daughters
to be with Wang Fuchi, Suyuan knew the Japanese were going to invade Kweilin.
After many hardships and the onset of dysentery, Suyuan was forced
to leave the twins by the side of the road, but Jing-mei and Canning
are reunited with them at the end of the novel and tell them their mother’s
is a member of the Joy Luck Club. She teaches the power of invisible
strength to her daughter Waverly, instilling in her the skills that
contribute to Waverly’s talent in chess. She fears that in trying
to give Waverly American opportunities, she may have undermined
her daughter’s Chinese identity; Lindo also fears that she herself
may have become too assimilated. See “Analysis of Major Characters.”
in-depth analysis of Lindo Jong.
is the youngest of Lindo and Tin Jong’s children. She has always
been a model of success, winning chess tournaments as a child and
eventually building a lucrative career as an attorney. Jing-mei
has always felt a rivalry with her, somewhat imposed by their competitive
mothers. Much of Waverly’s talent in chess stemmed from her ability
to hide her thoughts and channel invisible powers. Waverly fears
what her mother will say about her white fiancé, Rich. See “Analysis
of Major Characters.”
in-depth analysis of Waverly Jong.
is Lindo’s second husband. He is the father of her three children:
Vincent, Waverly, and Winston.
is Lindo and Tin Jong’s second child. When he received a secondhand
chess set at a church-sponsored Christmas party, his sister Waverly discovered
her interest and talent in chess.
was Lindo and Tin Jong first child. He was killed in a car accident
at the age of sixteen.
was Lindo Jong’s first husband, in China. His mother was Huang Taitai.
When Tyan-yu and Lindo were one and two, respectively, a matchmaker
arranged for their marriage. Pampered and self-centered, Tyan-yu
makes Lindo’s life extremely unpleasant when she comes to live with
his family at the age of twelve. When Lindo is sixteen, they get married,
but Tyan-yu remains very much a boy. He has no desire for Lindo,
but he is too afraid to admit it.
Taitai was Tyan-yu’s mother. When Lindo came to live in her household
at the age of twelve, Taitai trained her to be the epitome of the
obedient wife. Domineering and tyrannical, Taitai made Lindo’s life
miserable and ignorantly blamed her for the fact that Lindo and
Tyan-yu had no children.
was Waverly’s first husband and is the father of her daughter, Shoshana.
Waverly’s mother Lindo was very critical of Marvin, always pointing
out his faults. Soon Waverly could see nothing but his shortcomings,
and consequently divorced him. Waverly fears that the same thing
will happen when she marries Rich.
is Waverly’s four-year-old daughter. Waverly’s unconditional love
for Shoshana teaches her about maternal devotion.
Lindo was engaged at the age of two, Lindo’s mother began to talk
about Lindo as if she were already her mother-in-law Huang Taitai’s
daughter. Lindo knows that her mother did so only because she wanted
to keep herself from feeling too attached to the daughter she loved
so dearly but had already given away.
is Waverly’s white fiancé. Waverly wants to tell her mother Lindo
about their engagement, but she is afraid that Lindo will criticize
him to the point that she will be unable to see anything but his
faults. Rich loves Waverly unconditionally, but Waverly fears that
a bad first impression will unleash a flood of criticism from Lindo.
is one of the members of the Joy Luck Club. She has learned important
lessons about the dangers of passivity and the necessity of speaking
up for herself, but, she notes with pain, she has not passed on
these lessons to her daughter Rose. Although she has lost most of
her faith in God, An-mei maintains a certain faith in the human
power of will and effort. See “Analysis of Major Characters.”
in-depth analysis of An-mei Hsu.
is the youngest of An-mei and George Hsu’s three daughters. She
married Ted Jordan, despite protests from both An-mei and Mrs. Jordan.
She has always allowed Ted to make all the decisions, but when Ted asks
her to take on some of the responsibility, Rose’s relationship with
Ted disintegrates. An-mei helps Rose understand that she needs to
assert herself. See “Analysis of Major Characters.”
in-depth analysis of Rose Hsu.
was the youngest of An-mei’s and George Hsu’s seven children. When
Bing was four years old, the entire Hsu family took a trip to the
beach, and Bing drowned. Rose, rather irrationally, blames herself
for the death. An-mei had faith that God and her nengkan,
her belief in her power to control her fate, would help her find
Bing, but the boy never turned up.
is An-mei’s husband and Rose’s father.
An-mei’s mother was a strong but sorrowful woman
who, after being widowed while still young, was tricked into becoming
the fourth wife of Wu Tsing. She went to live in his household in
the city of Tientsin. When An-mei’s grandmother, Popo, dies, An-mei
goes to live with her mother in the city. Eventually, An-mei’s mother
commits suicide so that An-mei will not live a life of shame and
unhappiness. An-mei’s mother teaches her daughter to sacrifice herself
for her family, to swallow her tears, to mask her pain, and to beware of
people who seem too kind or generous.
was An-mei’s maternal grandmother. When An-mei’s mother married
Wu Tsing, Popo disowned her. According to traditional Chinese values,
it was a disgrace that her widowed daughter had not only remarried
but had re-married as a third concubine. Five years after leaving,
An-mei’s mother returned because Popo had fallen terminally ill
and, according to superstitious healing methods, sliced off a piece
of her flesh to put in a broth for Popo.
Tsing was a wealthy Chinese merchant who took An-mei’s mother as
his third concubine, or “Fourth Wife.” He was easily manipulated
by Second Wife and was, at root, a coward. When An-mei’s mother commits
suicide, he fears the vengeance of her ghost and thus promises to
raise An-mei in wealth and status.
Wife was Wu Tsing’s first concubine. She entirely dominates the
household in Tientsin, providing an example of extreme female power
in a patriarchal society. Yet hers is a cruel power: she is deceptive
and manipulative. She banks on her husband’s fear of ghosts by faking
suicides so that he will give her what she wants, and she trapped
An-mei’s mother into marrying Wu Tsing so as to fulfill his wish
for heirs without losing her authority. At first, Second Wife manipulates
An-mei into liking her by giving her a pearl necklace, but An-mei’s
mother shows An-mei the deceptiveness of appearances by shattering
one of the “pearls” with her foot in order to prove that it is actually
glass. An-mei repeats this action after her mother’s suicide, and
Second Wife is the first figure against whom An-mei learns to assert
her own strength.
was the son of An-mei’s mother and her second husband, Wu-Tsing,
but Second Wife took him as her own. An-mei learned that he was
her brother through Yan Chang, her mother’s servant.
Jordan is Rose’s estranged husband. When they were dating, he made
all the decisions. Later, he asks for a divorce and is surprised
when Rose stands up for herself.
St. Clair Family
Ying-ying St. Clair
Ying-ying is a member of the Joy Luck Club. As a
child, Ying-ying was headstrong and independent. Yet she slowly
develops a fatalism and passivity; rarely speaking her mind, she
allows her American husband, Clifford St. Clair, to translate incorrectly
her feelings and thoughts. Once she realizes that her daughter Lena exhibits
the same qualities in her own marriage, Ying-ying recognizes her
weakness and resolves to tell Lena her story. See “Analysis of Major
in-depth analysis of Ying-ying St. Clair.
Lena St. Clair
is the only child of Ying-ying and Clifford St. Clair. When she
married Harold Livotny, Lena unwittingly began to follow Ying-ying’s
passive example, believing herself incapable of control in her marriage
and her career. See “Analysis of Major Characters.”
in-depth analysis of Lena St. Clair.
Clifford St. Clair
Clifford St. Clair is Ying-ying’s second husband.
He never learned to speak Chinese fluently, and she never learned
to speak English fluently. Clifford often puts words into his wife’s
Ying-ying’s Amah was her childhood nursemaid. She
loved Ying-ying as if she were her own child and tried to instill
traditional Chinese feminine values in her—values that Ying-ying
will later regret having adopted.
Harold is Lena St. Clair’s husband. Since the beginning
of their relationship, he has insisted that they split the cost
of everything they share. He says that keeping their finances separate
makes their love purer. However, what he believes will keep them
independent and equal in fact renders Lena rather powerless.