Study Guide

The Joy Luck Club Narrator Point of View

By Amy Tan

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Narrator Point of View

First Person; Third Person (Limited) In The Prologues

In mah-jong, the magic number is "four" (there are four sides, and you need four players). And since the O.G. Joy Luck Club was created with the purpose of mah-jong playing, The Joy Luck Club takes the power of four to heart: the book is divided into four sections with four stories each.

These stories are told in the first person: we get the voices of the voices of the mah-jong players and their daughters. (Only Suyuan's voice is absent, because she's dead from the beginning of the novel.) This gives us access to the minds and the stories of two generations of women. By using the first-person, Tan allows us a kind of intimacy with the characters.

However, each of the four sections of this novel is preceded with a prologue. The purpose of these prologues is to give us an overview of Chinese cultural values and to illuminate some of the struggles that most, if not all, immigrants face—and so, in the service of these universal messages, the prologues are written in the third-person.

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