The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)
"Lena cannot eat ice cream," says my mother.
"So it seems. She’s always on a diet."
"No, she never eat it. She doesn’t like."
"And now Harold smiles and looks at me puzzled, expecting me tot translate what my mother has said.
"It’s true," I say evenly. "I’ve hated ice cream almost all my life."
Harold looks at me, as if I too, were speaking Chinese and he could not understand. (III.1.90)
Here, Lena compares real barriers to comprehension (Harold understood Ying-ying’s English, he just couldn’t wrap his head around it’s veracity) to linguistic barriers to comprehension.
Rich was smiling. "How long does it take to say, Mom, Dad, I’m getting married?"
"You don’t understand. You don’t understand my mother." Rich shook his head. "Whew! You can say that again. Her English was so bad. You know, when she was talking about that dead guy showing up on Dynasty, I thought she was talking about something that happened in China a long time ago." (III.2.111)
Rich doesn’t understand Waverly and Lindo’s communication style from a cultural standpoint, nor does he understand Lindo’s English. Also, is it just us, or is Rich rude? It’s hard to learn a second language. He shouldn’t just go around criticizing Lindo’s English!
"How do you know this?" she asked eagerly.
"You see it on everything. Made in Taiwan."
"Ai!" she cried loudly. "I’m not from Taiwan!"
And just like that, the fragile connection we were starting to build snapped.
"I was born in China, in Taiyuan," she said. "Taiwan is not China."
"Well, I only thought you said ‘Taiwan’ because it sounds the same," I argued, irritated that she was upset by such an unintentional mistake. (III.2.151)
Despite trying to be on the same page, Waverly still misinterprets her mother, causing hurt feelings and a barrier to open conversations in the future.