Study Guide

The Joy Luck Club Sex

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Sex in The Joy Luck Club is one means of differentiating the lives of the mothers and daughters. The mothers experience sex primarily as a means of producing the next generation, as the obligation of a wife and daughter-in-law, or else as a means of male dominance. For the mothers, sex is can be seen as violent, demeaning, or as biological "business."

The daughters, on the other hand, experience it with pleasure and as indicative of their relationship with the man. Yet even though sex is pleasurable for the daughters, it’s still really not about sex as much as who they’re having it with.

But here’s the real takeaway: as with many, many other aspects of life, the mothers and daughters in this novel experience and view sex in radically different ways.

Questions About Sex

  1. How do the sexual relationships between couples reflect the emotional relationships they have?
  2. Why do you think Tan doesn’t tell us anything about Jing-mei’s love life?
  3. Why do you think Amy Tan chose to have the daughters pursue relationships with white men?
  4. Is sex presented positively in this novel? Negatively? Neutral? For whom?

Chew on This

For both the mothers and the daughters, sex binds them to the man they are having it with.

Overall, sex in The Joy Luck Club is presented as a means of producing the next generation.

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