The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
In the novel, The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates is a Chinese book detailing all of the dangers that could befall a child. So the book symbolizes a mother’s desire to protect her children against any and all dangers they face. The mother in the parable starting off Part II is worried that her daughter will fall while bike riding. Later, we learn that An-mei reads The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates in hope of protecting her children from all possible hazards. But, by identifying the dangers, does it help a mother save her children, or does it make her paranoid, possibly bringing about the mother’s worst fears?
This parable also points out that there are perils that children can’t always see, so you have to trust their mother, as exemplified by the fact that The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates is in Chinese, so the daughter can’t read it.