AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Adapting Traditional Chinese Culture in Amy Tan´s The Joy Luck Club

by Xinyuan Zhang

Institution: University of Iceland
Year: 2015
Keywords: Enska
Record ID: 1221264
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/21381


Amy Tan's first novel, The Joy Luck Club (1989), is considered to be her most successful work and has received extensive attention from critics. In many ways, she has been seen as representative of Chinese-American authors, perhaps because she uses a large number of Chinese elements in her work while maintaining a perspective that is distinctly American. This paradox is one that Tan both works within and objects to. She once wrote“I would have to say I am a American writer, I believe that what I write is American fiction”(Darraj 66) and yet has persistently populated her novels with Chinese characters and located large sections of them in China. This essay analyzes some of the Chinese elements that appear in The Joy Luck Club in an attempt to evaluate the author from both sides of the above paradox. It opens with a short introduction to Amy Tan and the background to The Joy Luck Club. From there it turns to the contextualization of The Joy Luck Club within traditional China culture. This section, the main body of the essay, is divided into two parts: firstly, Tan's use of Feng Shui, secondly, her understanding of Wu Xing. The essay turns to an examination of Tan's adaptation of a number of traditional Chinese folk tales, showing how she sometimes ingeniously rewrites them to suit an American context. It is therefore possible to conclude that by creatively mainpulating elements of Chinese culture, Tan consciously represents and misrepresents her own Chinese past and that of her characters.