The Joy Luck Club
Language and Communication Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
"I don’t believe you. Let me see the book."
"It is written in Chinese. You cannot understand it. That is why you must listen to me." (II.Prologue.6-7)
The daughter’s lack of Chinese knowledge means that the mother holds all the power as the mediator between Chinese culture and her daughter.
"Aii-ya. So shame be with mother?" She grasped my hand even tighter as she glared at me.
I looked down. "It’s not that, it’s just so obvious. It’s just so embarrassing."
"Embarrass you be my daughter?" Her voice was cracking with anger.
"That’s not what I meant. That’s not what I said." (II.1.59)
Linguistic misunderstandings can escalate arguments and hurt feelings.
My father, who spoke only a few canned Chinese expressions, insisted my mother learn English. So with him, she spoke in moods and gestures, looks and silences, and sometimes a combination of English punctuated by hesitations and Chinese frustration: "Shwo buchulai" – Words cannot come out. So my father would put words in her mouth. "I think Mom is trying to say she’s tired," he would whisper when my mother became moody. (II.2.21)
Clifford St. Clair and Ying-ying don’t exactly have the most understanding marriage. He doesn’t know what she’s really trying to communicate so makes assumptions.