The Joy Luck Club
Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
But listening to Auntie Lin tonight reminds me once again: My mother and I never really understood one another. We translated each other’s meanings and I seemed to hear less than what was said, while my mother heard more. (I.1.109)
OK, that quote is pretty self-explanatory. It’s just one of the many reasons Jing-mei feels like she doesn’t know her mother.
I know this is a polite gesture on the Joy Luck aunties’ part – a protest when actually they are just as eager to see me go as I am to leave. "No, I really must go now, thank you, thank you," I say, glad I remembered how the pretense goes.
"But you must stay! We have something important to tell you, from your mother," Auntie Ying blurts out in her too-loud voice. (I.1.116)
Nice job interpreting the aunties’ motives, Jing-mei. That was sarcasm, if you still haven’t figured out that’s our usual M.O. But honestly, the inter-generational communication wasn’t working so well there.
In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds "joy luck" is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation. (I.1.144)
The aunties are afraid of being misunderstood, forgotten, and dismissed due in no small part to ethnic and linguistic barriers.