The Joy Luck Club
Visions of America Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"This American rules," she concluded at last. "Every time people come out from foreign country, must know rules. You not know, judge say, Too bad, go back. They not telling you why so you can use their way go forward. They say, Don’t know why, you find out yourself. But they knowing all the time. Better you take it, find out why yourself." She tossed her head back with a satisfied smile." (II.1.27)
Lindo obviously believes in America as a land of arbitrary rules that decide your fate – so she argues that you have to study and know the rules so you won’t be held back or taken advantage of by people that want to keep you down.
My mother believed you could be anything you wanted in America. You could open a restaurant. You could work for the government and get good retirement. You could buy a house with almost no money down. You could become rich. You could become instantly famous. (II.4.1)
Suyuan believes in America as the land of opportunity. Despite not liking many Americans’ personal characteristics, she likes American circumstances.
And then she pointed her crab leg toward her future son-in-law, Rich, and said, "See how this one doesn’t know how to eat Chinese food."
"Crab isn’t Chinese," said Waverly in her complaining voice…
Auntie Lindo looked at her daughter with exasperation. "How do you know what Is Chinese, what is not Chinese?" And then she turned to Rich and said with much authority, "Why you are not eating the best part?"
And I saw Rich smiling back, with amusement, and not humility, showing in his face. He had the same coloring as the crab on his plate: reddish hair, pale cream skin, and large dots of orange freckles. While he smirked, Auntie Lindo demonstrated the proper technique, poking her chopstick into the orange spongy part: "You have to dig in here, get this out. The brain is the most tastiest, you try."
Waverly and Rich grimaced at each other, united in disgust. (III.4.40)
Rich is a stand-in for the average American here. Jing-mei doesn’t view Rich favorably because he doesn’t show a proper amount of respect, while Auntie Lindo wonders, quite reasonably, why Rich doesn’t eat the best part of his crab.