In the Joy luck club, Amy Tan tells a story about a second generation chinese girl that was born in San Francisco who is struggling to remember her culture while living in America. The only Chinese culture Jing Mei receives is what her mother is holding on to in America. Jing mei is so busy absorbing American beliefs and practices even if those beliefs may be negative views of her own race. With no doubt, the hardest challenge for the Jing Mei will be to remember her identity while trying to find some merging between the two different cultures in her life.
Amy Tan shows us through Jing Mei that it is always important to remember one’s own cultural identity and heritage. We can see the jing mei’s struggles to merge the her chinese culture and the american culture in the chapter “two kinds” when she and her mother, suyuan, are arguing about becoming a prodigy. Suyuan wants jing mei to become really good at something like the prodigies on television, At first, jing mei is on board.
She likes the idea of being a star. Suyuan wanted for jing mei to become a chinese version of shirley temple, but when that didn’t work out, her mother told her that she would be attending piano lessons. But jing mei didn’t like this idea and she felt like she was being forced into doing something she didn’t like, so she said “why don’t you like me the way I am?… I am not a genius! I can’t play the piano.
And even if I could, I wouldn’t go on tv if you paid me a million dollars.” Suyuan responded by saying “ who ask you be genius? Only ask you be you best… so ungrateful” This argument with her mother shows jing mei’s struggles to merges her mothers chinese culture of raising a smart child and wanting the best for them and and more independent american culture. In the chapter “a pair of tickets”, Jing-mei and her father travel through many different cities in China, visiting family and looking for her long lost sisters. As she is traveling, she thinks back to times spent with her mother and how her mother had always told her that “Once you are born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and think Chinese”.
After her mother dies, and only after she begins this adventure does she begin to realize what her mother meant by those words. Her mother seems to know that Jing-mei will one day open her eyes and realize what it truly means to be Chinese. Jing-mei has never really felt Chinese, being born and raised in the United States of America. She has never really identified with her family’s culture. It is only after she meets her sister that she realizes what part of her is chinese and says “ it is so obvious, it is my family. It is in our blood. After all these years, it can finally be let go. In conclusion, Jing-mei goes through internal conflict over her bi-cultural background. She has denied her Chinese culture for most of her life. She understood that she was Chinese, but never really had the opportunity to embrace it. Her parents tried to express their culture to her since she was a child, but she never showed an interest. It wasn’t until “a pair of tickets” that she fully understand and trusted in her true culture. She opened up to not only new family members that she never knew, but she was also able to embrace a whole new, culture, that she is able to just trust in, even without knowing the full value of their culture.