Study Guide

The Joy Luck Club Friendship

By Amy Tan

Friendship

Part 1, Chapter 1
Jing-mei (June) Woo

And then we get to the room in the back, which was once shared by the three Hsu girls. We were all childhood friends. And now they’ve all grown and married and I’m here to play in their room again. Except for the smell of camphor, it feels the same – as if Rose, Ruth, and Janice might soon walk in with their hair rolled up in big orange-juice cans and plop down on their identical narrow beds. (I.1.72)

Jing-mei’s memories and early life are inextricably bound to the Hsu family.

So now I know Auntie Ying’s daughter, Lena, told her about my being evicted from my apartment on lower Russian Hill. Even though Lena and I are still friends, we have grown naturally cautious about telling each other too much. (I.1.114)

Though they grew up together, friendship is not free and easy between the daughters of the Joy Luck Club.

And I am embarrassed by the end-of-the-year-banquet lie my aunties have told to mask their generosity. I am crying now, sobbing and laughing at the same time, seeing but not understanding this loyalty to my mother. (I.1.130)

When it matters, the Joy Luck Club will step up to take care of its own.

"Auntie, Uncle," I say, repeatedly, nodding to each person there. I have always called these old family friends Auntie and Uncle. And then I walk over and stand next to my father. (I.1.38)

Calling them "Auntie" and "Uncle" signifies their positions as more than simply friends, but something close to family.

Auntie Lin and my mother were both best friends and arch enemies who spent a lifetime comparing their children. I was one month older than Waverly Jong, Auntie Lin’s prized daughter. From the time we were babies, our mothers compared the creases in our belly buttons, how shapely our earlobes were, how fast we healed…and later, how smart Waverly was at playing chess, how many trophies she had won last month, how many newspapers had printed her name, how many cities she had visited.

I know my mother resented listening to Auntie Lin talk about Waverly when she had nothing to come back with. (I.1.110)

This is not hunky-dory friendship, but rather a fiercely competitive friendship.

Part 3, Chapter 2

And in the afternoon, she sat in a char in my room, knitting me a pink sweater while telling me about a sweater that Auntie Suyuan had knit for her daughter June, and it was most unattractive and of the worst yarn. (III.2.60)

Being friends doesn’t exclude the possibility of competition between the women of the Joy Luck Club. Although Lindo and Suyuan are best friends, they constantly criticize and attempt to one-up each other.

Part 3, Chapter 3
Rose Hsu Jordan

I had been talking to too many people, my friends, everybody it seems, except Ted. (III.3.36)

Friends can be easier to talk to than significant others.