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Assimilation: The Joy Luck Club

Assimilation: The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club is a film based on a novel by Amy Tan that portrays the theme of assimilation. The film takes place in different time frames including childhood days in China, youthful adult times of mothers during daughters’ immigration to the United States, and adult times of daughters who interact with aging mothers. The theme of assimilation become vivid when the Chinese mothers work hard in order to install a strong understanding of heritage in their daughters born in America. They also try to save their daughters from the pain that they experienced as females when growing up in China. Assimilation has been perceived differently by their daughters that overlook it as hypercritical meddling towards understanding the American culture (Tan, 1993). They respond by trying to increase their mother’s assimilation. Most importantly, both mothers and their daughters face difficulties with their identities as mothers strive to reconcile with their past lives in China to the American life in the present times. On the other hand, their daughters are trying to find a balance between loyalty and independence of their heritage.

The theme of assimilation is evident in the entire film. In this case, the mothers desire that their daughters have privileges that they could not have before. However, they are disappointed that their daughters may end up with less understanding of them. Assimilation continues to change from one generation to another. Mothers have been striving to provide success and privileges for their daughters whilst their daughters are looking for the opportunities to do all that they want. Most importantly, the Americanness of the daughters has been reflected in their relations with men. Moreover, Ted, Rich, and Harold have a strong representation of the American part of the wives that for their mothers appears to be disconnected from thinking of the Chinese. Assimilation is strongly evident when Suyuan desires that Jing-Mei becomes a perfect girl from America just like Shirley Temple. However, this is followed by resentment at the way Jing-Mei understands the Chinese culture in order to be assimilated in the same. Assimilation into a different culture can be a difficult task in case one lacks proper knowledge of that culture. These are the dangers of double-dealing with cultures. In this case, being fit in one place is a clear evidence of not fitting in another (Tan, 1993). The challenge for the Chinese-American women is in finding their way in balancing and honoring both cultures.

The film brings to the light the interactions between the Chinese and American cultures. It happens through marriages or communication. In this case, the only love existing in the film is that between a mother and a daughter. Otherwise, other loves seem to be fading away due to cultural as well as generational diversities. Language is also another common factor in assimilation. The mothers are Chinese speakers meaning that interacting with the Americans that speak English can be hard. This way, assimilation requires every individual to learn the language of the majority. Mothers seem to be uneducated whenever they speak English since they are unable to properly pronounce some of the English words. Cultural space seems to be significant in explaining the differences between the two cultures. The differences exist in terms of language, values, and beliefs among other aspects that are evident in the film. There is a vital difference in terms of the way every individual from the Chinese culture thinks about those from the American culture; the same applies to the Americans and their perceptions of the Chinese culture. Cultural space plays a significant role in bringing out the differences of the two cultures.

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