Sorry!!! I had no updates here for quite some time. I actually haven't started on it yet. But I promise to read this in one day. Hehehehe. I can consider myself a fast reader. Okay to be honest i got distracted by other books. Okay feel free to post your tid bit thoughts on it here. It seems that everybody are also busy reading other books. lol! So mstessagray kindly share your thought on the pages you have read na
Nabasa ko palang yung first part: Feathers From a Thousand Li Away, yung first four chapters!
Each of the four chapters tell the stories of June (the daughter of Suyuan Woo who passed away in the beginning of the story) and the 3 mothers, Auntie An-mei, Auntie Lindo, and Auntie ying-ying. It tells of how their life began, their history and how it has shaped them, and later on, how it will lead them to their current life now.
As i read the introductory story of the first part. It made me ask some questions like, why is this first part entitled Feathers from a Thousand Li Away? Is there more to its meaning than what the story literally says?
First Chapter: The Joy Luck Club (point of view of June) June's mother tells her the story of how she came up with the idea of the Joy Luck Club amidst all the chaos and war against the Japanese Invasion. One day, after June sulked, because her mother had denied to buy her a transistor radio, her mother asks her "Why do you think you are missing something you never had?" and tells her the story of a time when she had to run away from her own home, with two babies on each arm, but reveals that soon, she realized that she could not keep both babies alive and came to the decision, that it was better for someone else to find and care for them, so she left her own babies against her will. The first chapter also tells how her mother passes away and June agrees to take the place of her mom in the Joy Luck Club. When her "aunties", the friends of her mother, tell her about how they have contacted her two long lost sisters and that she must go to them and tell them about her mother, she replies, “What will I say? What can I tell them about my mother? I don’t know anything. She was my mother”. This greatly upsets the aunties. Why do you think this upset them so much? I think because they also see themselves and their daughters in June. They fear that they may not really know their daughters as well or even their daughters may not really know them. They fear that their own daughters are just as ignorant and unmindful as June to the hopes they brought along with them to America and the future that they worked so hard for for their daughters. How does this set the stage for coming chapters in this book? Was June right? That will be your decision to make after reading the book.
Second Chapter: Scar (Auntie An-Mei) Auntie An-Mei tells the story of her childhood and how as she grew up she was taught never to acknowledge her own mother whom her grandmother Popo said was a ghost. Why do you think her grandmother called her own daughter a ghost? When An-Mei was four, her mother was about to enter the house when her uncle and Popo had disowned her and called her a ghost, a shame to the family, because she had become a concubine. An argument ensued and the big pot of hot soup sitting on the dining table spilled all over An-Mei and wounded her, giving her the scar on her throat. Years later, when Popo becomes so sick, her mother comes back to visit. She takes this opportunity to unite again with her own daughter but when An-Mei's mother tries to talk to her and reach out to her, An-Mei puts up a show of not acknowledging her own mother. But really inside she feels like the girl Popo told her about, whose belly had a colorless winter melon because she was so greedy. She was afraid she'd be like the girl in Popo's story whose head burst and brains dribbled out of her ears because she did not listen to her ancestors. What do this tell us? That really inside, despite learning to live without her real mother all her life, despite learning to never say her mother's name, despite all the shame she knew her mother brought, she wanted her back. She wanted her own mother so badly for herself. That despite what Popo told her, despite what Popo taught her, inside, she wanted so badly to fight back.
Third Chapter: The Red Candle (Auntie Lindo) Auntie Lindo tells of her family, of how since she was a baby, she was arranged to mary another baby boy, Tyan-yu, already. She tells of how her family had to move away and leave her behind to the boy's family when they could no longger live in their own home. She lives in her mother-in-law's house and learns her place in the family, her place as the wife to Tyan-Yu, her poor status compared to her family-in-law's rich one. As they grow older, she marries Tyan-Yu as planned. On the day of her marriage, she is so saddened by the fact that she should spend her whole life unhappy for someone else's happiness. Saddened that she should sacrifice all that she has for her husband, to fulfill her parent's promise. And then she realized, she made a promise to herself, that she would always remember her parents' wishes, but she would also never forget herself. But their marriage turns out to be a failure. She fails to bring a grandchild for the family. One day, an idea comes to her and she devises a plan to make her family-in-law get rid of her and think of their marriage contract as invalid. At the end, it does work, and her family sends her away with enough money to go to America. Why does Auntie Lindo narrate this story? How will it come to affect the choices she makes later on? Because of this, she realizes her hopes for herself, and in the time to come, not only for herself but for her children.
Fourth Chapter: The Moon Lady (Auntie Ying-ying) Ying-Ying is born to a rich family, raised by her Amah, and taught to never think of her own needs because it is wrong. She was taught that a girl must not ask and only listen. When Ying-Ying is four years old, her Amah dresses her up in the best clothes Ying-Ying's mother has sown for her, for a ceremony for the Moon Lady whom she says can grant everyone their secret wish. An-Mei, her family and all her relatives, ride a boat to a floating pavilion and spends the rest of the afternoon there. When everyone is taking a nap, An-Mei's Curosity gets the better of her and she ventures out to the back of the boat where she watches some boys catch fish, an old women gut and clean them, and afterwards, watches the heads of two chickens and a turtle cut off. When her Amah find her dirty and muddy with blood, feathers, and bits of fish scales, she's furious, takes her fine but now dirty outer garments and leaves her out at the back of the boat. Ying-ying waits there until suddenly firecrackers explode and she accidentally falls in to the lake. A group of people fish her out of the water and leave her at the dock where she listens and watches the story of the moon lady. And when it is done, she runs after the moon lady and asks for her wish, to be found. Later on, her family finds her. Does her wish mean something more than to be found by her family and not be lost anymore? Does it symbolize something else? Until now, does she still think of that wish?
This series of stories addresses the desire of the Chinese mothers for their daughters to have better lives in America than they had in China. The better life is symbolized in the swan one mother brought with her. Immigration officials took it from her, leaving her with only one feather to remind her of what she had left behind. Even when her daughter’s life fails to live up to her expectations, the mother keeps the one feather and thinks that one day she will use it to explain, in perfect English, all of her good intentions for her daughter.
this whole mother-daughter business i thought was going to be mushy and sentimental in amy tan's hands, but not at all. not at all. i say it's a good book. the names can be confusing sometimes like in a russian novel, but unlike in a russian novel nobody makes a ten-page speech on the meaning of life or the lack thereof. so yeah, good.
(btw thanks to this book of the month thing i got my groove back on)
Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue. -- Eugene O'Neill
@mstessagray...great recounting of the beginning chapters. I believe each story shared have an underlying desire for something for dreams, hope, a better life, to be found, to be love, to find someone who was lost etc.
I love that short story introduction Feathers from A Thousand Li Away. Hmmm...yes i am curious with the title also. It must mean something.
I didn't realize till i reached the part of The Red Candle story of Lindo Jong in that the scene wherein she pretended to have dream an important message from an ancestor in order to escape her marriage situation that i remembered that i have seen this in a movie before. I thought it was a funny and yet somehow a clever way to escape her undesirable husband's family that she was forced to marry into, but at the same time she managed to not break her promise to her parents and shamed her family. I think she is determined that there can be more for her than the life she is having at that time, she does not want to forget her own self worth also.
The stories of their previous lives that have gone long ago were very rich and colorful and even tragic that left a long lasting impression in their current lives. It was not an easy life, there are so many strict and restricted rules and the times then were very different and yet their hopes and dreams then they still wish to carry onto their children in a foreign land.
I am currently @ Half and Half story of Rose Hsu Jordan
latest update: read the ff: Chapters: Half and Half...Rose cannot decide on her own, like she have no personal opinion how can her husband stand it? My previous pet dogs are more opinionated.
Two Kinds...poor Jing Mei Woo, she tries so hard to be a certain kind of prodigy. I can understand the amount of pressure of trying to be really good amazing even at something just to please your parents but when expectations are not met there is the inevitable resentment. Her mother only wants obedient daughter and this grated Jing ultimately.
Rice Husband... Lena's mother have some strong Chinese beliefs that greatly affected Lena's personal relationships esp. w/ her husband...a marriage based on balance sheets. I can't imagine this concept it felt too impersonal and no matter how tactless her mother can be, she sense what is really going on.
Four Directions ... i think Waverly does place so much thought on her mother's approval of everything she do. For her everything that her mother says is a criticism against her that she will never do anything right since chess playing days. It just took a very long time for her to realize that her mother is just waiting for her to reach out and invite her once again to be a part of her life.
Without Wood...most of the time mother knows best and i love that Rose's mother made her realize that she needs to stand up for herself in the midst of her divorce.
Best Quality...i find it annoying that Jing plays into her insecurities. Chinese mother's are not always and rarely even show public affection to their children but they do express them in their own stern way.
ang pinakapaborito ko si june, yung "loser' na naevict sa apartment. yun yung pinakanatatatandaan ko sa kanya. i guess i can relate or something. pinakaayaw ko si waverly. i liked her at first kasi she's a chess prodigy and then she fought with her mom and then she lost the gift. you're given a gift you don't throw it away. or maybe she didn't throw it away. anyhow she wasn't "good enough" for it. tapos she ended up a tax attorney and she's mean to june. and that dinner scene that almost ended up in them bitch slapping one another to the ming dynasty. oh, june should have had a snarky comeback and shown her. obnoxious na homophobic pa.
yung wood chapter, i remember, i guess it was one of the mothers telling her daughter, "when you don't have enough wood, you easily bend to other people, you listen to them too much." or something like that. very true.
now that i've had a few days to step back and think about the book (the initial emotional rush was a bit overwhelming), i think the chinese symbolisms-- the numerology and stuff- can be a little too much sometimes, no? i guess the chinese have an explanation for everything. and i mean everything.
Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue. -- Eugene O'Neill
my latest updates for this book: Magpies (An-Mei Hsu)..."i was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people's misery, to eat my own bitterness" i sometimes think this encompass how Chinese people are generally like this. so sad story about her mother being a concubine but it was against her will in the first place and because of her situation she cannot do anything about it
Waiting Between the Trees (Ying-Ying St. Clair)...it prompted me to wonder of how my mother was like before she was married. I only knew her as the mother she was my entire life. Now that she is gone I wish i knew more about her. **" her daughter's wisdom is like a bottomless pond" what a sad observation and yet true.
Double Face (Lindo Jong)...funny things about the fortune cookies ** she wanted to have her children to have the best combination an American circumstances and Chinese character...this is very true for other foreigners who have migrated to America i think.
will speed up my reading before i get distracted again since the end of the month is just a few days away na.