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The Joy Luck Club

Amy Tan
Writing Help

Suggested Essay Topics

Writing Help Suggested Essay Topics

1. Jing-mei fears that she cannot tell Suyuan’s story to her half-sisters because she feels that she did not know her mother well enough. Considering her doubts, what is symbolically significant about her agreement to fill Suyuan’s place in the Joy Luck Club? What hints do we receive over the course of the book that her fears may be unfounded?

2. Consider some of the cyclical elements in the narratives of the joy luck club. What are some possible reasons for the cyclical nature of the novel?

3. When Jing-mei tells the story of her childhood conflict with Suyuan over piano lessons, how does her perspective of herself and of her relationship with Suyuan change? How does their conflict represent the conflicts between the other mothers and daughters in the book?

4. How are the daughters in joy luck club American “translations” of their mothers?

5. Over the course of joy luck club, the mothers find themselves learning as much from their daughters as their daughters are learning from them. Discuss what lessons the mothers might have to learn from their daughters. How might the very activity of narrating their stories lead them not just to the sharing of insights but the discovery of new ones?