The Joy Luck Club is a representative work reflecting the collision between Chinese and Western cultures. In recent years, with the rapid growth of immigrants, more and more attention has been paid to the problems arising from the cultural collision between China and the West. Previous studies have shown that cultural differences between China and the West have an important impact on immigrants. Recent studies have paid more attention to the similarities and differences between Chinese and Western cultures in the Joy Luck Club and neglected its specific gradual process. Through the changes of the female images’ ideas, relationships and psychology, this paper investigates the process of character growth and self-identity of the female images that represent immigrant Chinese women and native Chinese American women under the multicultural background, and explores the reconstruction of their cultural identity. The results show that it is very long and difficult for them to seek and rebuild their cultural identity in this process, but eventually they find the balance in the cultural gap. The personal experience of female characters in the novel has been sublimated into the process of blending history and culture. Meanwhile, it also conveys the trend that Chinese and Western cultures will move from collision to fusion. The results highlight the development and tortuosity of the process of Chinese female images’ growth and the blending process of Chinese and Western cultures, as well as the practical significance and enlightenment its show.
Key Words: The Joy Luck Club; female images; collision and fusion; self-identity awareness
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Brief introduction of the Joy Luck Club 1
1.2 Literature Review 2
2 The analysis of the changes of the four pairs of mothers and daughters 4
2.1 The change of eduactional views 4
2.2 The change of views on love and marriage 6
2.3 The change of mother-daughter relations 7
3 Cultural collision and fusion with the character growth and self-identity awareness 9
3.1 The famale images with Chinese cultural background 9
3.2 The female images with American cultural background 11
3.3 The pratical significance and enlightenment of the changes of the female images 15
4 Conclusion 17
The Collision and Fusion between Chinese and Western Cultures from the Female Images of the Joy Luck Club
1.1 Brief introduction of the Joy Luck Club
The Joy Luck Club is the first novel written by Amy Tan, a famous Chinese American woman writer. It is also her best-known work. The novel takes the life tracks of four pairs of mothers and daughters as a clue to show the process from contradiction to mutual understanding between them, and also reflects the process from collision, conflict to integration between the two cultures. Amy Tan was born in the United States. Her mother, Tan Daisy, was separated from her three daughters due to the exile of the war. After three unfortunate marriages, she immigrated to the United States. Therefore, it has to be said that the Joy Luck Club seems to be a portrayal of her mother's poor life and is also a part of her real life. (Duan，2016)
The novel describes the struggle of immigrant women and native Chinese American women in the early 20th century with the background of the collision between Chinese and Western cultures. Since the Opium War, the image of China's "sick man of East Asia" has been deeply engraved in the minds of the people of the world. Although the establishment of the Republic of China in the first half of the 20th century improved the weak image of China, due to the years of civil war and the War of Resistance against Japan, China was still in a state of devastation. It can be imagined that the status of Chinese in the hearts of Americans was extremely low in those days. As the first generation of immigrants in the early period, the mothers in the novel were not only faced with the ethnic discrimination, but also faced with enormous cultural conflicts and cultural contradictions with the daughters growing up in the western cultural environment. As a native Chinese American woman, the daughters in the book are trying to find the balance of cultural identity in a foreign environment.（Yang amp; Guo amp; He，2014）
All these cultural collisions are largely caused by the cultural environment of the early 20th century. Under the influence of thousands of years of feudal system in China, the concept of superiority and inferiority has been deeply imprinted in the hearts of Chinese people. In western society, the concept of advocating freedom and equality has gradually developed and become a synonym of Western society. （Zhang，2015）With the progress of society, many Chinese people at that time had gradually changed their ideas and yearned for getting rid of the shackles of traditional ideas. The mothers in the novel are part of them. In addition to the pain left by their native families and marriages, they choose to come to a foreign country to start their own lives and pursue their own rights.
1.2 Literature Review
The Scholars all over the world have made a multi-angle study of the immigrant novel the Joy Luck Club. In recent years, the number of foreign studies on the Joy Luck Club is less than domestic studies but there are still many meaningful ideas in their studies. Among them, some scholars deeply study the continuing influence of the Joy Luck Club(Andrew, 2018) and the gender conflicts of the Joy Luck Club (Chen amp; Xiong, 2015); others propose ‘a possible sharing’ in the Joy Luck Club, namely, ethnicizing mother-daughter romance in Amy Tan's the Joy Luck Club (Heller, 2016). What’s more, the topic of American Rules and Chinese Faces which represents the Games of Amy Tan’s the Joy Luck Club (Fickle, 2014) and the social influence on the Second-Generation Chinese Americâs indentity development depicted in Amy Tanâs the Joy Luck Club has been discussed fiercely (Alfaratna Septi, 2014). At the same time, domestic scholars’ research on it has developed vigorously. In the aspect of role image, the female images of the novel are explored from the cross-cultural perspective (Zhang, 2014). In addition, the research on the theme of ABC female images growth in the Joy Luck Club shows the transformation of female images in the novel in the special cultural context (Yan, 2014). What’s more, due to the background of women's roles in the novel, a number of them study on it from the perspective of post-colonialism and adaptation theory. Sun Ya and Jiang Xiaoyue (2018) analyze their works from the perspective of post-colonialism. Besides, many scholars elaborate on the awakening of feminism in the novel (Wu, 2016). As a literary work reflecting the society, it contains the cultural blending of China and the West from the perspective of ecological criticism (Yu, 2018). Digging into the novel, some researchers focus on the "sisterhood" between female characters and the mother-daughter relationship. The emotional process of four pairs of mothers and daughters from estrangement, confrontation to understanding and tolerance of, reflecting the Chinese and Western culture from conflict to integration (Gao, 2009). More and more researchers focus on mahjong culture, tea culture and orientalism in the novel (Xiang, 2018).
As for this paper, it will explore the collision and fusion of Chinese and Western cultures through the growth process of female roles in the book, and weaken the image of male roles in the process. The purpose of this paper is to emphasize the difficult process of self-perception of female characters that bear the blending and conflict of Chinese and Western cultures, and to analyze the collision and fusion of Chinese and Western cultures from the perspectives of education, marriage, family, mother-daughter relationship, personality growth and cultural identity presented by female characters. The innovation of this paper lies in the analysis of the growth process of female roles in the book and the blending process of Chinese and Western cultures are dynamic, emphasizing the development and tortuosity of these two processes, rather than focusing solely on the similarities and differences between Chinese and Western cultures excavated from these roles. At the same time, the cultural dilemma, cultural identity crisis and the process of reconstruction under the multicultural background are also important parts of the paper.
2 The analysis of the changes of four pairs of mothers and daughters
2.1 The change of educational views
Between a pair of mother and daughter, Lindo Jong and Waverly Jong, a war called love broke out. In daily life, the mother's way of educating her daughter is mostly indoctrination. For example, when the daughter was six years old, the mother told her to learn to use invisible power as her tactics. For another example, when the daughter was crying for candy, the mother loudly scolded her and told the daughter in mature and rigid adult language to learn how to sail with the wind and “Strongest wind can not be seen” (Tan, 1989:89). These are truth that a six-year-old child can not understand in a short time at their age. In the process of her daughter's learning chess, the mother's way of educating her daughter is more to instill truth and support her daughter invisibly with action. For instance, when the daughter was practicing, her mother will habitually stand behind her daughter as if she were her daughter's backing and allied forces. Although the daughter complained a lot, she felt the care and support from the mother in her heart, which virtually gave the daughter the power of self-confidence. When the daughter participated in the championship for the first time, the mother put the chang symbolizing good luck into the daughter's pocket so that the daughter had more courage to face her opponent and won the championship in the competition. It is undeniable that these instructions did help the daughter a lot. The invisible power learned from the mother gave the daughter a great psychological hint in the process of learning, which is even the key to the success of the game.
However, when the daughter was like a duck in water in chess learning, the mother also neglected the trouble and pressure that some of her actions brought to the daughter. After winning the game, the mother asked the daughter to throw less chess pieces. The daughter explained that sometimes she needed to throw away the pieces and compete for the first place. For her daughter's explanation, the mother just repeated her own point of view. For their daughter's outstanding performance in the competition, although the mother also expressed her joy and pride with action, for 10-year-old children, language encouragement and praise will obviously give them more confidence. (This is also due to the difference between high and low context culture to some certain extent) During the practice, the mother did not respond to the complaints of her children in any language, but simply and roughly expressed her dissatisfaction and anger with the noise of pots and pans, which made her daughter feel estrangement and incomprehension from her mother. Besides, the mother often shows off the daughter's achievements in chess, which made the daughter feel shy and embarrassed. Eventually, all these barriers were finally put on the line, “why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off, then why don't you learn to play chess? ”, and connected into a high wall, separating mother and daughter from each other (Tan, 1989:99). To this outbreak, the mother's solution was to ignore it. It was the cold war and “Chinese torture” (Amy Tan, 1989:91).
At first, the daughter overlooked the torture, but soon she was defeated and wanted to regain her mother's attention. In her future life, the daughter has always been like a puppy trying to please her mother and win her favor, just like the pride and joy she brought to her mother when she won the competition in her childhood. Perhaps the passage of time has made their relationship seem to have restored its former harmony, but in fact, the invisible wall has always existed in the daughter's heart. In life, mother’s criticisms in the way of innuendo or critical strikes which hit the mark have prevented the daughter from coming out of the cold war in her childhood. Just as mothers' simple conclusion that the thin-skinned daughter must be embarrassing for being her daughter and that the daughter did not take family into account made the daughter farther and farther away from the mother. Mother's incomprehension and indifference left heavy scars and shadows on her heart. Even in the future, when choosing spouses and disputes arise, because of fear of mother's psychological torture again, the daughter dared not express her thoughts and did not communicate with the mother. Also, because too much care about the mother's happiness and ideas, the daughter ignored her own ideas and was easy to be influenced by the mother's ideas in order to cater to the mother. These are all the legacies of the cold war. The mental torture of childhood caused a series of weaknesses on the daughter's character.
However, the turning point occurred at the moment when her daughter mistook her mother's death. She removed her heart defense and poured out her own words. Finally, the mother overturned the high wall, expressed her thoughts, and exposed her truest face to her daughter. She got off her high horse and threw away the arrogance that had always been in front of her daughter. They communicated freely, and soon they understood each other's ideas, untangled the misunderstood, and reached a consensus. Contradictions and misunderstandings that used to be so irreconcilable seem so simple and smooth now.
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