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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Transformation

In The Joy Luck Club, most of the transformations are accomplished through hope, understanding, and life circumstances. Hope, for example, allows people and objects to become more than they really...

Friendship

In The Joy Luck Club, friendship is critical, rocky, competitive, but always loyal. The women by turns seem to hate each other and can’t seem to live without each other. Friends are definitel...

Language and Communication

In The Joy Luck Club, linguistic barriers are an extremely important reason the mothers and daughters continually misunderstand each other. The daughters were all born in the U.S. while their mothe...

Visions of America

The four older women in the novel have very firm notions about America – some positive, some negative. For the most part, the mothers appreciate the female independence which America allows for....

Foreignness and 'The Other'

The novel is anchored firmly in this Chinese-American world, where the daughters are too American for their mothers, and the mothers are too Chinese for their daughters. What this boils down to, in...

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Much of the actions and the decisions made in the book are based on looking forward into the future. The four mothers immigrate to America in a large part because they have a vision of their childr...

Sex

Sex in The Joy Luck Club is one means of differentiating the lives of the mothers and daughters. The mothers experience sex primarily as a means of producing the next generation, as the obligation...

Women and Femininity

For the mothers in this novel, and the mothers of the mothers, life as a woman was extremely restrictive in China. The model wife and daughter-in-law is an obedient, filial woman who works hard, be...

Family

The most important familial connection within is this book is obviously the relationship between mothers and daughters. From the perspective of the mothers, a mother passes on her strengths and wea...

Identity

The idea of identity in The Joy Luck Club is strongly linked to a specific quote in the book: "I asked myself, What is true about a person? Would I change in the same way the river changes color bu...
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