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The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan

The Red Candle

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The red candle with two ends for lighting (one representing Lindo and one representing her husband) is a symbol of marriage in China, "[…] a marriage bond that was worth more than a Catholic promise not to divorce." The marriage bond can’t be broken by a divorce or by death; a widow could not remarry. If the two ends of the candle remained burning during the entire marriage night, the marriage was bond was complete. That’s why there was supposed to be a servant guarding the candle all night. But Lindo blew the candle out, asserting herself for the first time, and deciding for herself that she was not permanently married. When Lindo later revealed to her mother-in-law that the candle went out, that was another indicator to Huang Taitai that the marriage wasn’t a true one.

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