“All of us like stairs, one step after another. Going up, going down, but always going the same way.” This sentence is from An-Mei. It might not be correct, but in some way, it also illustrates the relationship between the mother and daughter, we are always linked together, the feeling we need each other is so strong. Watching this movie, I felt I saw myself, my mom, and the way we treat each other. Lack of communication might be the most important problem, why people just can’t tell others what they really want, what they really care about. In the film, the four mothers are Chinese immigrants and their daughters are America-raised, the culture’s different between mother and daughter lead to the different values, it might be another problem that we can’t understand each other. So, how to act properly as being daughters and mothers?
The first time I saw the title of the film, the Joy Luck Club, I thought that it would be a film filed with joy, luck and happiness. However, out of my expectation, in the film, I saw many unpleasant things—conflicts, hardship, disappointment, sorrow, hurt, torture etc. Of course there were some moving parts, and fortunately, it was a happy ending. Anyway, I enjoyed it very much. It made me have a penetrating thinking.
This film is talking about four stories of mothers and daughters. As immigrants, all of the four mothers have a tough experience before they come to America, they have A American dream that their daughter can’t understand. The American dream is a belief that life would be better and richer. They just hope their daughter not to experience what they have experienced in China, they hope their daughter can achieve something. But sometimes they express in a wrong way, so there must be a lot conflicts.
The Joy Luck Club tells about the conflicts between Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-raised daughters and their struggling to understand each other. The film shows us these topics: the misunderstanding of love between the mothers and the daughters, the clash between the generations and cultures, and the struggle for the women to fight for equity. Now I am going to show you my understanding of them, emphasizing on the first topic.
Just like Waverly and her mother Lindo, they have a conflict for a long time. They never express their real thoughts so that they misunderstanding each other for so many years. Waverly think Lindo was not satisfied with her. Lindo think Waverly was embarrassing and ashamed to be her daughter, and I think this thought hurt Lindo’s self-esteem so that she always shows she’s not satisfied with her daughter. And, the reason why Lindo would have this thought is that she is a Chinese woman. I think Lindo is an aggressive and very independent woman, Waverly just like her mother. When Lindo was young, she already knew what kind of person she wants to be and what kind of life she really wants, so she can leave her Chinese husband to the United States. She is so brave and intelligent, she’s not often smiling, Waverly is a little afraid of her even though she’s grow up. Lindo didn’t give Waverly enough attention, praise, and affirmation. No matter what Waverly do, she just can’t get her mother’s favour, it hurts Waverly a lot. She is always thinking how to please her mother. But Lindo never know Waverly’s thoughts. Waverly and Lindo never had a good communication until Waverly’s getting married.
In many cases, we and those we love are easy to hurt each other because of the misunderstanding of love, the conflicts in generations and culture background, or unconsciousness.
They never want to hurt each other, but why their act make others misunderstand? Why they do that? It reminds me of the Pygmalion Effect. Praise, trust and expect have a kind of power, it can change people’s behavior, when a person get another person’s trust and praise, he will feel won the social support, so as to enhance the self value, become self-confidence, self-esteem, and achieve a positive power, and try our best to reach the other side of the expect. We influence each other. Pygmalion effect tells us, to a person transfer positive expectations, will make him progress faster and better development. On the other hand, with one transfer negative expectations will make the person giving up, give up efforts. Waverly and Lindo didn’t give each other any positive behavior, so they just can’t get positive response, I think it may be a circulation. If no one gives the first step, the circulation would never stop. In Waverly is still a child, her mother didn’t give enough praise, even though Waverly is growing up, she still feel her mother is against her all the time. What’s more, they don’t communicate too much, they even don’t know each other’s real mind. They both refused to compromise, it results in the conflict be there for so many years.
Take Jingmei and her mother Suyuan as an example. When Suyuan demands the little Jingmei to play piano, Jingmei shouts to her mother, “You can’t make me!” Even Jingmei cried that she wish she isn’t Suyuan’s daughter and Suyuan isn’t her mother, and that she wishes she were the dead like the babies Suyuan abandoned in China. The sad expression on Suyuan’s face indicates that she is hurt deeply by her daughter’s innocent words.
There are full of confusion and misunderstandings in our life, because we always think what we think is right and then do the wrong thing. Sometimes we will feel that we are so strange that we can’t understand each other. But please open heart and open mouth, try to forgive them. We never know what they mean to us until we lose them, and please don’t wait until that time. When people closer, they are easier to hurt each other, I believe even the misunderstanding is still a kind of love. In the film, June never understand her mother even though her mother dead. June said, “I didn’t know anything about her(June’s mother)”.
This reminds me of my similar experience. Once I hurt my mother as Jingmei did. I didn’t mean to hurt her, but those wounding words just slip out of my mouth unconsciously. Often, we hate that why our parents don’t know my feelings, why they like to make us be something and totally unaware that what their children are. While the parents don’t know why all their sacrifices to the children can’t be paid off, even incite hatred. Actually, this is the generation gap that causes the misunderstanding. We don’t know the hardship our parents underwent before. They can’t understand what we are thinking. So misunderstandings appear.
June’s mother is Suyuan. Suyuan hopes June can get the best, be the best, and be the best piano player in China. She thinks June can be anything, anything she wanted. Whether Suyuan’s really think so, but June believes she is thinking and Suyuan had really said so. June doesn’t like piano and she know she doesn’t have the talent, she think her mother never see that what she really is. June wants to prove her mother was wrong, she didn’t have any talent, she is only an ordinary person, as an ordinary person, she also thought she didn’t deserve the best. When she grew up, she would say she is modest, always take care of others. I think Suyuan’s expect must be a big pressure to June, June will feel hurt if she doesn’t meet Suyuan’s expectation, and she doesn’t want to let her mother to be disappointed. For a little girl, Suyuan’s expectation is too hard. June even thought she must be the big disappointment in her mother’s life.
Maybe as a child, Jingmei cannot comprehend what her remarks mean to Suyuan, and just want to show her grudge. But another main reason is the different backgrounds of Suyuan and Jingmei bare. Chinese parents always like to put all their hopes on the next generation for they are the generation full with hardship and pain. All they do just want the children to be better, but they ignore that whether their children can accept or not, not along a child born in America, influenced by the American’s individual freedom and knowing little about Chinese culture. The generation gap and culture conflict cause the misunderstanding of the mother and the daughter.
But absolutely, there’s a misunderstanding. One time, after a quarrel at the dinner, Suyuan told June that she never expect, only hope, only hope the best for June, it’s no wrong to hope. But she never knows every time she hope for something June couldn’t deliver, it hurts June. June said, “And no matter what you hope for, I would never be more what I am, and you never see that what I really am”. Her mother’s hope just likes a big burden, not love.
The other example is Waverly and her mother Lindo. Waverly tries her best to please Lindo in everything. Whether her mother approves or not becomes the master of all her choice. Even Waverly marries a Chinese man because Lindo likes Chinese, while she doesn’t love. Waverly doesn’t understand why Lindo disapprove or criticize whatever she has done. On the other side, Lindo thinks that her daughter is ashamed of her, which is her continual internal injury after Waverly’s winning that chess contest, when Waverly shouted to Lindo if Lindo wanted to show off, won the chest by herself. Every time, Lindo’s disagreement with or indifference to Waverly directly results from the thought that Waverly feels it shameful to be her daughter. Both of them deeply love each other, but in the meantime, they hostile and hurt one another. This is the way them get along with each other. Fortunately, they clear up their misunderstandings and discover themselves by communicating.
Mothers always think their kids should get something what they think is the best, but most of the time, it’s not what the child really want. Mothers never ask, only commands. In Chinese traditional concept, the family not only represents the absolute power of parents, but also means the interdependent relationship between parents and children. But in America, the individualism values encourage people struggle, stressed self realization and independent consciousness.
I am deeply moved by this scene:
In the film, the four mothers try hard to be Americans, to accept American values, but in fact, they still agree with Chinese culture. For their daughters, they didn’t have a clear cognition for china, they even don’t know how to speak Chinese, they agree with American values and way of life. When mother and daughter talking, mother used to say “you Americans blabla ”, and daughters used to say “we Americans blabla ”, they divided each other into different group unconsciously. So there must be a little prejudice between them. I think it may be a reason why June wants to prove her mom is wrong, I still remember when June was a little girl, she ever said to her mother, “I am not your slave, this is not china, you can’t make me”. It’s cute, but it also hurt her mother. Besides, the different values are also the reason why Lindo thinks Waverly must be embarrassing to be her daughter.
Waverly Jong says to Lindo, sobbing,, “You don't know, you don't know the power you have over me. One word from you, one look, and I'm four years old again, crying myself to sleep, because nothing I do can ever, ever please you.” And after a short period of silence, Lindo smiles to Waverly with tears in her eyes, “Now, you make me happy.” Then they laugh heartily, teary-eyed with happiness.
Lucky, in the last two generations have buried the hatchet. Mothers broke the silence and have a communication with their daughter. When daughters meet difficulties and frustration, mothers on their own initiative to help them to analyze and solve problems, and encourage them. On the other hand, as the growth of the age, daughters began to listen to mother’s talk, and gradually understand mother, and thinking the relationship between mother and daughter. They totally understand how they care and love each other.
Seeing the old Lindo bursts out laughing, like a child, and Waverly laughs joyfully, I sincerely feel delighted for them. Love needs communicating, understanding, and tolerance, which is what I learn from them.
This film let us realize the communication problem between mother and daughter, it’s helpful for us to avoid misunderstanding and conflict between mother and daughter. No doubt, it really touch me, it is amazing. Each daughter is mother’s hope. No matter misunderstanding, conflicts, or something else are the performances of love. The more we love, the more we hurt. All we need to do is open our heart, understand them, forgive them, be kind to them, and love them.
Along with above mentioned, the struggle for the women to fight for equity is also brought to the surface. For instance, Ying-ying encourages her daughter Lena to escape an unhappy marriage, not repeating the same mistakes she made in her first marriage. And An-mei tells her daughter Rose to learn to shout at the unfair fate, and express her own will because Rose has lost herself in her marriage. These two cases reveal that the women begin to release themselves from the restrains of being oppressed by the men and the old-fashioned thoughts as well as some Chinese traditional characters. Eventually, the women find their true value and win their own happiness.
View from the whole film, the title, the Joy Luck Club may just be the old generation’s hope of better life for the next generation. On the whole, this is a movie made specifically for women. It is worth our appreciation.