The most important familial connection within is this book is obviously the relationship between mothers and daughters. From the perspective of the mothers, a mother passes on her strengths and weaknesses to her daughters. She also has a responsibility toward them – to provide them with a good future, steer them from harm, teach them about life as best as she can, and keep them from making the same mistakes she did. The role of the daughter is to respect, listen to, and learn from their mothers. The mothers in this novel express their love in a variety of (mostly traditional Chinese) ways. The daughters are frequently baffled by their mothers, and the love that the daughters feel is typically late-blooming. The daughters tend to think that the role of the mother is to be unconditionally kind, supportive, and encouraging. Despite their idealized notion of a mother, in reality, they often feel criticized and pressured by their mothers. They also worry that they don’t live up to their mothers’ high expectations. In the end, though, the daughters are seeking a strong and loving connection with their mothers.
By American standards, the way the mothers in The Joy Luck Club express their love is very severe.
With the exception of Jing-mei, each of the daughters in the novel mirrors her mother’s strengths and weaknesses.