The Joy Luck Club
How we cite our quotes:
And he nuzzled my neck and whispered, "I don’t think I’ve ever met another woman, who’s so together…" – and I remember feeling a hiccup of fear upon hearing the words "another woman," because I could imagine dozens, hundreds of adoring women eager to buy Harold breakfast, lunch, and dinner to feel the pleasure of his breath on their skin. (II.4.21)
First of all – together?!?! What a terrible compliment. Second of all, notice that this "compliment" seems to mean more to her than the sex they just had. It’s the second-rate compliment that makes her think Harold might love her, not the sex.
The sexual chemistry was what really surprised me, though. I thought he’d be one of those quiet types who was awkwardly gentle and clumsy, the kind of mild-mannered guy who says, "Am I hurting you?" when I can’t feel a thing. But he was so attuned to my every movement I was sure he was reading my mind. He had no inhibitions, and whatever ones he discovered I had he’d pry away from me like little treasures. He saw all those private aspects of me – and I mean not just my sexual private parts, but my darker side, my meanness, my pettiness, my self-loathing – all the things I kept hidden. So that with him I was completely naked, and when I was feeling the most vulnerable – when the wrong word would have sent me flying out the door forever – he always said the right thing at the right moment. (III.2.78)
Rich has KEEPER written all over him. And, the most important thing about Rich isn’t their sexual chemistry in a physical sense (Waverly had that with her first husband too), but their ability have emotional openness in their sexual relationship.
"As your mother slept soundly in Second Wife’s bed, Second Wife got up in the middle of the night and left the dark room, and Wu Tsing took her place. When you mother awoke to find him touching her beneath her undergarments, she jumped out of bed. He grabbed her by her hair and threw her on the floor, then put his foot on her throat and told her to undress. Your mother did not scream or cry when he fell on her.
"In the early morning, she left in a rickshaw, her hair undone and with tears streaming down her face. She told no one but me what had happened. But Second Wife complained to many people about the shameless widow who had enchanted Wu Tsing into bed. How could a worthless widow accuse a rich woman of lying?
"So when Wu Tsing asked your mother to be his third concubine, to bear him a son, what choice did she have? She was already as low as a prostitute. And when she returned to her brother’s house and kowtowed three times to say good-bye, her brother kicked her, and her own mother banned her from the family house forever." (IV.1.142)
Not only is An-mei’s mother blamed for being raped, she receives no support from her family because she is considered unfaithful to her dead husband. And thus the patriarchal bonds tighten…