The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
Rose Hsu Jordan
Rose is very passive. She liked playing victim to her husband’s hero, but then her husband got tired of their roles and asked for a divorce. She refuses to take any responsibility or make any major decisions, because making decisions confuses her. She lacks wood in her character, and it’s not until her mother was proven right about Rose’s husband, Ted, doing "monkey business" with someone else that Rose finally asserts herself. She demands the house and essentially tells Ted that she’s going to put up a fight.
Why on earth is Rose so averse to making decisions? It seems to date back to her brother Bing drowning when Rose was supposed to be watching him. She seems to worry about the results of her actions and whether or not she will be blamed. She feels like there are too many options available to her, and therefore too many opportunities to make the wrong decision. In her mind, making no decision at all is better than making a bad decision.
By the end of her story, however, Rose has somehow found herself and asserts herself to Ted. This transformation seemed to happen overnight and is a bit unrealistic. Maybe it’s just that her mom’s advice has finally sunk in. Regardless, you get the feeling that Rose’s life is going to be a lot better from here on out, and that she’s learned that she can speak the truth about a situation instead of just shy away from it.
Rose and An-mei
Rose doesn’t have a hostile relationship with her mother, An-mei, but instead a rather avoidant one. When Rose knows that her mother will try to convince her to fight for her marriage, Rose attempts to avoid her mother. When her mother calls and gives her the advice to stand up for herself, Rose just gets off the phone as quickly as possible. In their relationship, An-mei sees the problems that Rose faces and wants to help, but Rose pushes her away. She’d rather talk to a psychiatrist than her mother.
By the end of Rose’s story, her thinking with regards to her mom seems to change. After Rose asserts herself to Ted, saying she wants to keep the house after the divorce, she dreams that her mom is helping her landscaping the garden by planting weeds. This is pretty important because Ted loved a tidy garden, but Rose decides she likes it overgrown. So in her dream, her mother is actually helping her make the garden chaotic. In Rose’s mind, she now sees her mom as helping her in the direction of her goals.