Symbolism In Joy Luck Club

Topics: Culture

The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Symbolism In Joy Luck Club. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.

Symbolism is defined by the dictionary as “the practice of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships,” which means creating an importance and special meaning in objects that normally would not be important. In The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, a story of four Chinese immigrant women and their four American-born daughters, many symbols are presented.

Throughout the many stories in the novel objects begin to hold significant importance to the women they are attributed to. Objects such as Suyuan Woo’s pendant, Lindo Jong’s red candle, and Lena St.

Clair’s vase become symbolic for the relationships between these women and people and events that are important in their lives. The jade pendant given to Jing-mei “June” by her mother Suyuan Woo is symbolic for the relationship June has with her mother before and after Suyuan’s death.

In the story narrated by June entitled “Best Quality,” she says, “my mother gave me my life’s importance, a jade pendant on a gold chain” (197). June describes it as, “too large, too green, and too garishly ornate” (197), she did not understand the pendant and in the same way she did not understand her mother.

Ying Ying St Clair Character Analysis

At this point it is a symbol of their differences. In the same chapter, June recalls the conversation she had with her mother when June received the pendant, “For a long time, I wanted to give you this necklace.

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See, I wore this on my skin, so when you put this on your skin, then you know my meaning” (208). The meaning she describes is her maternal instincts to guide her daughter, but June is unable to understand this and mistakenly labels it as criticism. Suyuan is trying to tell June that her criticisms are really love and concern, but she cannot express it in words.

In the same conversation Suyuan describes the pendant, “This is young jade. It is a very light color now but if you wear it everyday it will become more green” (209). This description represents June’s naivety towards her mother, the “young jade” being June. After Suyuan’s death, June begins to “wear that pendant every day” (197) as a sign that she is starting to understand her mother and her gestures for what they really were and as a sign that her light color is becoming more green.

Another object that holds an interesting symbolic message is the red marriage candle of Lindo Jong. The red candle of Lindo Jong holds many symbolic messages. When Lindo was first married a special candle was lit. This candle had two ends to light, one end had the name of the bride and the other end had the name of the groom. If neither end of the candle were to extinguish before the next day Chinese customs say that the wedding would be successful. The candle already has a symbolic meaning within the Chinese culture, the success of the marriage.

Within the story it also represents the beliefs, customs, and superstitions behind the marriage. That night after the servant designated to watch the candle had run away, out of fear of the Japanese, Lindo ran into the room and “[her] throat filled with so much hope that it finally burst and blew out [her] husband’s end of the candle” (60). Blowing the candle out symbolizes Lindo taking control of her life. Her newly acquired independence is her way of escaping her marriage without dishonoring her family.

Although the servant relights the candle, Lindo exposes the truth to her mother-in-law that the flame died in the night, without making intervention known. In her plan to escape her marriage, Lindo takes advantage of the Chinese culture and the superstitions of the candle to convince her mother-in-law to annul the wedding. It symbolizes how one’s culture and traditions are used to identify one’s own worth and character. In the story of Lena St. Clair there are two important objects that hold an important meaning to her. The vase owned by Lena St.

Clair is a symbolic representation of her marriage with her husband, Harold Livotny, who built the table the vase rests on. Lena explains to her mother, Ying-Ying St. Clair, “Careful, it’s not too sturdy” (163) when Ying-Ying discovers the wobbly table. “Not too sturdy” can be applied to Lena’s marriage as well as the table; the vase, as well as Lena, is in an unstable position. Lena’s marriage is in danger of falling into ruin. Lena describes the table as “a poorly designed piece that Harold made in his student days” (163).

To make a marriage work both people have to work at it, but Harold is not as supportive as Lena is with him. The table is a symbol of his unaccommodating, unsupportive commitment Harold has with Lena. During the middle of a fight between Lena and Harold, the vase is shattered by Ying-Ying. All Ying-Ying says in her defense is “Fallen down,” (165). Lena responds as she picks up the broken shards, “It doesn’t matter, I knew it would happen” (165). Concerned, her mother asks, “Then why you don’t stop it” (165).

Lena is to blame for the insecurity her marriage and the vase are in, but even with this knowledge she does not take action against the situation. Her mother realizes this and shatters the vase to teach Lena that she cannot just sit idly and watch, but that she should prevent an oncoming disaster if she can. The shattered vase then represents an action taken to change Lena’s submissiveness and grow into a stronger more self-aware person. Each woman’s object is an intricate symbol of the lives surrounding its owner.

Suyuan’s pendant changes its meaning from its first introduction to its closing. It was a symbol of difference and became a symbol of concerned and love, and in this change also signifies learning and understanding. Lindo’s red candle ultimately represents freedom through the understanding of tradition and culture. Lena’s vase when intact represents a shaking marriage while when broken describes the discovery of her own personal worth. The symbolism used in the novel weaves each object with the event and relationship it is associated with perfectly to create a complex, expressive story.

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Symbolism In Joy Luck Club. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Symbolism In Joy Luck Club
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