Introduction to the Joy Luck Club

Disclaimer: If this post seems a little out of sorts with my other posts it is because I’m going to use it to teach my class about previewing text. Hopefully they’ll learn that there are a number of things one can learn about a text before it is actually read.

Before I can even get started with this one, I have to mention that I hear Joy Luck Club and I automatically think Ming Na. How many actors play characters with the same name? I remember watching this movie with my mother multiple times, and never from the beginning long before I found out it was a book. I think I finally made the connection in college; we read either “Two Kinds” or “Rules of the Game” in one of my many literature classes. More than likely it was “Rules of the Game”; I remember something about Waverly and chess. These stories take me back.

In previewing the text (or looking at the table of contents), we find that it’s broken up into four parts, each having four stories told by four different people. On the title page we find that there are four mothers and four daughters who are telling these stories, but one name is missing from the narrative. Suyuan Woo doesn’t tell any of the stories. Instead, we find that Jing-mei tells stories in all four parts, whereas each of the others (both mothers and daughters) tell two stories each. I can infer from there that something has happened to Jing-mei’s mother that caused Jing-mei to take her place.

I wonder in what way Jing-mei has to take the place of her mother.
What is the Joy Luck Club?
What happened to Jing-mei’s mom that required Jing-mei to take her place?

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