The Joy Luck Club
The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
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The Joy Luck Club Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

  • Waverly takes her mother out to lunch. Her mother complains the entire time: Waverly’s haircut is ugly, the restaurant chopsticks are greasy, the soup isn’t hot enough, etc.
  • Waverly gives up on the idea of telling her mother an important bit of news: that she plans on marrying Rich Schields.
  • Waverly’s mom has never met Rich, and every time Waverly tries to talk to her mother about him, her mother changes the subject.
  • After lunch, Waverly takes her mom to her apartment, where Waverly lives with her daughter, Shoshana. It’s clear that Rich has moved in. She wants her mom to realize the relationship is serious.
  • Waverly shows her mom a mink coat that Rich bought her for Christmas – a really extravagant gift that Waverly seems really proud of.
  • Her mother points out the coat’s flaws.
  • Waverly is hurt, but at the same time she sees the truth in her mother’s comments.
  • Waverly’s mom jabs her again. Waverly asks if her mom is going to say anything about the apartment (i.e., Rich living there), and her mom just comments on the apartment being a mess.
  • We flash back to the first time Waverly was seriously hurt by her mother.
  • Waverly is ten-years-old and sick of her mom boasting about her chess skills and taking all the credit for Waverly’s clever chess strategies.
  • In a crowd of people, Waverly yells at her mom to stop showing off and basically tells her that she knows nothing about chess.
  • Waverly’s mom is mad and gives her daughter the silent treatment for the next few days.
  • Waverly decides not to respond with anger; she ignores her mom right back and quits playing chess for a few days in order to spite her mother. Basically, Waverly’s trying to make her mom so mad that she has to talk to her.
  • Waverly decides to skip a tournament, but even this elicits no response from her mother.
  • After a week, she announces that she’s ready to begin playing again, hoping she’ll get a positive reaction out of her mom. But her mother tells her that it’s not so easy, just because Waverly is smart and can pick things up quickly doesn’t mean she should be so fickle.
  • Waverly contracts chicken pox, and her mother looks after her, ending their silent battle.
  • Waverly is convinced that her mother is back to her usual self, but when it comes to Waverly’s chess playing, her mother no longer seems to care. She longer polishes her daughter’s trophies, cuts out newspaper clips about Waverly, or hovers over Waverly as she practices.
  • Waverly loses her next tournament, saying that she felt as though she had lost a magic armor, leaving her completely vulnerable to her opponents. Waverly’s mom even seems to smile a bit when she loses the game.
  • The game stops coming so easily to Waverly. She has to fight hard to win, and the losses are hard on her.
  • After a spell of time, Waverly stops playing altogether.
  • We return from the flashback to the present.
  • Waverly is on the phone with her friend, Marlene, explaining the incident with her mom and the mink coat.
  • Marlene wants to know why Waverly gets so hurt by her mom, why doesn’t she just tell her mom to shut up and deal with the fact that she’s with Rich?
  • Waverly describes her mother as having all these little sneaky attacks. And, you just can’t tell Chinese moms to shut up.
  • Waverly’s afraid that amidst all her mother’s criticisms, some truth will stick and alter all of her perceptions of Rich, the man she currently adores.
  • Waverly says that’s what happened with her first husband, Marvin Chen.
  • Marvin was like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. He got a full scholarship to Stanford, played tennis, actually had chest hair, was funny, and was creative with sex.
  • However, all of Waverly’s mother’s criticisms of Marvin rang true, and he turned out to be kind of a jerk with an eye for other ladies. Waverly’s not sure if her mom actually did poison her marriage, but she ended up feeling mere apathy towards Marvin.
  • Waverly found out she was pregnant just as her marriage turned sour. She considered aborting the baby, but ended up keeping her. Waverly’s daughter, Shoshana, is now four-years-old, and Waverly adores her.
  • Waverly compares Rich’s love for her with her own love for Shoshana– unequivocal and without needing anything in return.
  • Rich is super sweet, really romantic, and great in bed, but Waverly is still worried about how her mom will criticize him.
  • Finally, Waverly engineers a way for Rich to meet her mother.
  • Waverly and Rich eat dinner at Auntie Suyuan and Uncle Canning’s house. In her thank-you card, Waverly writes that Rich thought it was the best Chinese food he had ever eaten.
  • Shortly after, a dinner invitation comes from Waverly’s mother. This was exactly what Waverly predicted because her mom is so competitive with Suyuan cooking skill.
  • Waverly hangs out in the kitchen while her mother prepares the meal. Already her mom’s pointing out how she’s a better cook that Suyuan.
  • Waverly builds up the courage to ask for her mom’s first impression of Rich. Waverly’s really nervous because Rich is an average-looking, kind of short, red-headed guy with freckles.
  • Her mom says he has a lot of spots on his face and doesn’t buy it when Waverly insists that freckles are good luck.
  • By Waverly’s standards, the dinner goes terribly. Let’s call it White Boy in Chinese House.
  • Rich brings a fancy French wine. Waverly’s parents don’t even own wine glasses.
  • Rich then drinks two glasses when everyone else has three sips.
  • Rich insists on using chopsticks, then drops almost everything he tries to eat in his lap, making Shoshana laugh hysterically.
  • Rich helps himself to big portions – before anyone else gets a chance.
  • Rich thinks he’s being polite by refusing to eat seconds, even though Waverly’s father sets the right example by taking four helpings, insisting the food is so delicious he can’t resist.
  • And the coup de grâce is when Waverly’s mother criticizes the main dish (cue for everyone to pronounce it the best food they’ve ever tasted!), and Rich says it just needs a little soy sauce, and proceeds to drench his food.
  • When Rich says goodnight, he uses butchered versions of her parents’ first names: Linda and Tim (instead of Lindo and Tin).
  • At the end of this debacle, Rich looks pathetic in Waverly’s eyes. He doesn’t even have any sense of how badly the whole dinner went.
  • The next morning when Waverly wakes up mad and decides to go give her mother a piece of her mind.
  • When she arrives at her parents’ house, Waverly finds her mother sleeping on the sofa, and for a terrible moment is afraid she’s died.
  • As she wakes her mom up, Waverly instantly starts crying. She then tells her mother that she’s marrying Rich.
  • To her surprise, her mom says, that’s old news. Just because Waverly didn’t tell her doesn’t mean she didn’t know.
  • Waverly says she knows her mom hates Rich.
  • Her mom is becomes kind of angry-sad, realizing her daughter thinks "I am this bad." Really she had just said things about his freckles and the mink coat because they were true, not because she wanted to be mean.
  • Waverly just wants to go home because she says she doesn’t know what she’s feeling, what’s "inside of me right now."
  • Her mom lets her know what’s inside of her: half is from father – the Jongs – and half is from her mother – the Suns. The people from the Sun clan are "smart people, very strong, tricky, and famous for winning wars."
  • Waverly feels comforted by having a semblance of a normal conversation with her mother.
  • Finally, instead of a crabby old woman hell-bent on ruining her daughter’s life, Waverly sees her mother as an old woman who simply cares about her daughter.
  • The chapter ends with the definite possibility that Rich, Waverly, and Waverly’s mother will all visit China after the wedding. Waverly’s mom says she doesn’t want to go with them, but really she’s dying for them to invite her. That’s pretty cute.

Next Page: Part 3, Chapter 3
Previous Page: Part 3, Chapter 1

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