Feathers from a Thousand Li Away

Before the stories of the first part begin, there is an anecdote about a woman and a swan and their travels from China to America. She wants to give the swan to her American-born daughter and with it “all [her] good intentions” (18). Her daughter will speak perfect American English and will not be looked down upon and measured by the worth of the man she’s attached to.

With “all my good intentions” (18) comes a hope that her child will have a better life than the one she had. I grew up with my father telling me the same thing. Yes, you have to work twice as hard to get half as much, but I want your life to be better than mine. That’s what all parents should want for their children.

Unfortunately, such is not the case. During the school year I see so many children whose parents couldn’t care less about them. Or I see children who view their parents’ lives as satisfactory, so they place no value in their education. These are the children who say that they’re only in school because “it’s the law.” It pains me that there is no hope of better in these children. That’s what’s hard at the end of the day. The parents who have given up on their children, the parents who have not instilled a want for better in their children, the parents who allow their children to settle for what’s already in front of them rather than striving to be something more.

To these children I give my hope. It has come from afar and with it comes all my good intentions. May it be a light to one in darkness who wants to find their way.

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1989.

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