The Joy Luck Club
Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"So really, we’re equals, except that Harold makes about seven times more than what I make." (III.1.67)
In the most "equal" of relationships, Lena still conforms to a traditional support role. And her husband is her boss AND makes seven times as much as she does.
I know this, because I was raised the Chinese way: I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, to eat my own bitterness.
And even though I taught my daughter the opposite, still she came out the same way! Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl. And I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way. (IV.1.4)
Despite An-mei’s best efforts, her daughter still followed the mold of Chinese women who are voiceless and shoulder all the emotional burdens. An-mei speculates that the long matrilineal line is like a staircase that: although each step is in a new place, they are all going the same direction.
As I walked away from my old life, I wondered if it were true, what my uncle had said, that I was changed and could never lift my head again. So I tried. I lifted it. And I saw my little brother, crying so hard as my auntie held onto his hand. My mother did not dare take my brother. A son can never go to somebody else’s house to live. If he went, he would lose any hope for the future. But I knew he was not thinking this. He was crying, angry and scared, because my mother had not asked him to follow. (IV.1.34)
Only a daughter can leave her ancestral house, because they aren’t worth as much as sons.