The Joy Luck Club
How we cite our quotes:
I saw what I had been fighting for: It was for me, a scared child, who had run away long ago to what I had imagined was a safer place. And hiding in this place, behind my invisible barriers, I knew what lay on the other side: Her side attacks. Her secret weapons. Her uncanny ability to find my weakest spots. But in the brief instant that I had peered over the barriers I could finally see what was there: an old woman, a wok for her armor, a knitting needle for her sword, getting a little crabby as she waited patiently for her daughter to invite her in. (III.2.164)
Waverly finally realizes that the enemy she has been fighting all her life is hardly an enemy, but a mother who simply cares for her daughter.
"A mother is best. A mother knows what is inside you," she said above the singing voices. "A psyche-atricks will only make you hulihudu, make you see heimongmong." (III.3.33)
An-mei firmly believes that mothers are able to understand their daughters better than fancy psychiatrists can.
I know this, because I was raised the Chinese way: I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, to eat my own bitterness.
And even though I taught my daughter the opposite, still she came out the same way! Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl. And I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way. (IV.1.4)
Despite An-mei’s best efforts, her daughter still followed in the footsteps of voiceless Chinese practice women who shoulder all the emotional burdens. An-mei speculates that the long matrilineal line is like a staircase that: although each step is in a new place, they are all going the same direction.