Welcome to The Writer's Terrace - a haven for writers.

The Writer's Terrace (formerly known as The Written Word) is a haven for writers to come and share the expression of their hearts in our little "terraced garden" of women and friends. We don't have deadlines or assignments, just the opportunity to share the things we write.

We would love to have you join us and share your writing. Feel free to speak and write from the heart in whatever form you desire, but please no offensive language. Stories, poetry, free-write, letters, whimsical - anything that takes your fancy.

If you would like to join us please go to The Writer's Terrace Yahoo Group and fill out the application.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Joy Luck Club by Debra

The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (September 21, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0143038095

I fell in love with The Joy Luck Club on the very first page; it resonated with me on many levels. For one, it cried out deep truths that touched my woman's soul.

In The Joy Luck Club four mothers and daughters are profiled. Each mother’s life story is told, as a lesson, in reference to her daughter’s current life.

"Yesterday my daughter said to me, ‘My marriage is falling apart.’

“And now all she can do is watch it falling. She lies down on a psychiatrist couch, squeezing tears out about this shame. And, I think, she will lie there until there is nothing more to fall, nothing left to cry about, everything dry.

“She cried, ‘No Choice! No Choice!’ She doesn't know. If she doesn't speak, she is making a choice. If she doesn't try, she can lose her chance forever.

“I know this, because I was raised the Chinese way: I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people's misery, to eat my own bitterness."

How true for women, and sometimes men, everywhere. But especially women who are taught, "The woman is the soul of the home. She is the creator of harmony," and "Apply your lip liner so that the ends of your mouth appear to go up and you are always wearing a smile." Translation, "Remember to desire nothing, to take responsibility for other's troubles, to never voice your own disappointments."

But then, she teaches us her lesson: she teaches us that we do not have to desire nothing, to swallow other people's misery, to eat our own bitterness, in this passage from the day her mother died:

"And on that day, I showed Second Wife the fake pearl necklace she had given me and crushed it under my foot.

“And on that day, Second Wife's hair began to turn white.

“And on that day, I learned to shout."

This passage moved me profoundly in a way few books have. "I learned to Shout!"

Each of the mother's in this novel teach their daughters truths to live by. "Do not undervalue your love and assume that it is less worthy than another's," "Trust in yourself and your worth," "Demand that you be treated with respect" and "Do not crush your own desires, do not take responsibility for others misery, do not eat your own bitterness. Speak up - shout if you must!"

Not only did this novel reach me on the level of profound truth and soul-enriching lessons, but the sheer poetry of the writing was a delight to my inner ear. So much so that I found myself reading passages out loud:

"A psychiatrist does not want you to wake up. He tells you to dream some more, to find the pond and pour more tears into it. And really, he is just another bird drinking from your misery."

It actually scans:

A psychiatrist does not want
You to wake up.
He tells you to dream some more,
To find the pond and pour
More tears into it.

And really, he
Is just another bird,
Drinking from
Your misery.

And another:

"I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. The pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hold that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter's tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose. She will fight me, because that is the nature of two tigers. But I will win and give her my spirit, because that is the way a mother loves her Daughter.

"I hear my daughter speaking to her husband downstairs. They say words that mean nothing. They sit in a room with no life in it.

"I know a thing before it happens. She will hear the vase and table crashing to the floor. She will come up the stairs and into my room. Her eyes will see nothing in the darkness, where I am waiting between the trees.”

How incredibly beautiful the last passage is - my favorite in the book. The imagery, the magic of the words, the poetry. This passage is literally saturated with a mother's love for her daughter to a point where it is almost unbearable to read! As translated in the movie The Joy Luck Club, "I am waiting like a tiger in the trees, ready to leap out and cut my daughter's spirit loose."

The Joy Luck Club is a mandatory read for any woman. I've now read it six times, and will do so again.

© Debra Shiveley Welch

No comments:

Post a Comment