The Joy Luck Club
The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan
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Waverly Jong

Character Analysis

Waverly is really smart (child prodigy at chess) and can also be really snobby. She says to Jing-mei, and we quote: "You’re not a genius like me." At least she also admits to being petty. Ultimately she’s very competitive. This comes out in her chess games, in her relationship with Jing-mei, and you also get the sense that getting her job at Price Waterhouse required a competitive nature. From her relationship with Rich, we see that she likes being the leader of a situation. Unlike Lena and Rose who tend to be submissive to their husbands, Waverly describes Rich as "a dalmatian, panting, loyal, waiting to be petted."

Like her mother, Lindo, Waverly is fiercely independent, stubborn, and capable of being very tricky. In the Episode of the Crabs (that would be the last chapter of Part III), it’s clear that Waverly, like her mother, demands the very best. Waverly is, in a sense, Lindo’s selfish side unmitigated by filial duty or obligation. Yet she is capable of great love and affection, as evidenced by her relationship with Shoshana.

Waverly and Lindo

Waverly, like all of the other daughters in The Joy Luck Club, has a strained relationship with her mother. Waverly, as stated earlier, is independent and likes to assert her independence to her mom. She makes a show of not taking her mother’s advice by saying things like, "Don’t be so old-fashioned, Ma […]. I’m my own person." This woman likes to think that she’s in charge of herself. All the same, she continues to look for her mother’s approval, especially in romantic relationships. She claims that she doesn’t want her mom’s opinions about Rich, but desperately wants her mother to like him. She tends to use her mother as a scapegoat for her own fears and insecurities (i.e., possible fears about marrying Rich).

Waverly also runs into a lot of cultural problems with her mother. Lindo blames this on the fact that Waverly is very American, she says that it’s "too late" for Waverly to be Chinese. Lindo thinks Waverly’s American-ness is partly her own fault for giving Waverly such an American name. On the contrary, Waverly likes to think of herself as Chinese, maybe because it’s "fashionable" right now, maybe it’s because she’s about to marry a white man and is worried about losing a part of her identity. Regardless, even though she wants to think of herself as Chinese, she sure has a tough time understanding her Chinese mom.

Waverly Jong Timeline
Next Page: Rose Hsu Jordan
Previous Page: Jing-mei (June) Woo

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