Study Guide

The Joy Luck Club Part 1, Prologue

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Part 1, Prologue

  • In Shanghai, a woman buys a swan with an incredible story.
  • Though the swan began life as a duck who stretched its neck in the hopes of becoming a goose, it stretched its neck too far and became more than what it had hoped for.
  • The woman sails to America with her swan.
  • She hopes to have a girl in America who’s value will not be judged based on her husband, and who will not have to ignore herself and "swallow sorrow."
  • The woman wants to keep the swan and one day give it to her American daughter (along with, we presume, a better life). Aw.
  • When the woman arrives in America, immigration officials take the swan away, leaving only one feather in the woman’s possession.
  • She fills out immigration paperwork until she forgets why she came to the U.S. in the first place.
  • Now the woman is old and she has an American daughter who speaks only English. The old woman is waiting for the day that she can give her daughter the feather, and tell her the story of the feather in perfect English.

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