The Joy Luck Club Read-Along: Week 2 Recap

Joy

Welcome to the 2nd weekly recap of The Joy Luck Club read-along!  Below is the schedule.  Each Saturday I’ll post a recap (with clearly marked spoilers for those who get a little behind).  The final review of the book will be on Saturday, October 24th.

  • Sep. 7th – 12th: Chapters “The Joy Luck Club” and “Scar”
  • Sep. 13th – 19th: Chapters “The Red Candle” and “The Moon Lady”
  • Sep. 20th – 26th” Chapters “Rules of the Game”, “The Voice from the Wall”, and “Half and Half”
  • Sep. 27th – Oct. 3rd: Chapters “Two Kinds” and “Rice Husband”
  • Oct. 4th – 10th: Chapters “Four Directions”, “Without the Wood”, and “Best Quality”
  • Oct. 11th – 17th: Chapters “Magpies” and “Waiting Between the Trees”
  • Oct. 18th – 23rd: Chapters “Double Face” and “A Pair of Tickets”

This week, we read two more character, rather than action, driven chapters, “The Red Candle” and “The Moon Lady” of part one.  I’m still certain there isn’t going to be anything that isn’t essential, and in these chapters the author gave us more background and context.  I marked quite a few pages that I felt really drove home the pain and suffering these women have endured.  I asked myself again how does anyone survive what they have?  How did any girl during this time grow up without being irrevocably damaged emotionally?

[Spoilers] Chinese society doesn’t seem to be friendly or supportive of women.  I already knew that from an academic standpoint.  I also understand that it’s a collectivist culture with an emphasis on selflessness and honor, and I don’t think those are bad qualities in themselves.  However, reading the way it plays out through myths, folk tales, and even their religious beliefs is a bit unsettling.  When I read the story of the Moon Lady, I couldn’t help but think of the story of Adam and Eve.  The Moon Lady eats a peach her husband stashed away in a box, and for that she’s punished for all eternity by being trapped on the moon.  The last line she says is, “For woman is yin…the darkness within, where untempered passions lie.  And man is yang, bright truth lighting our minds.”  With a belief like that, it’s no wonder girls are brow beat into subservience and their value broken down to how well they restrain themselves from acting on their desires.  I saw this same sort of reasoning in the previous chapter as Lindo Jong did everything she could to live up to her family’s wishes.  At one point she says, “After a while, I hurt so much I didn’t feel any difference.”  She then goes on to say that she was happiest when everyone else was happy.  Another example is Ying-Ying St. Clair explaining that Amah gave up her child when her husband passed away so that she could be Ying-Ying’s nursemaid.  I’m assuming that this was Amah’s best option, and that breaks my heart.  [End Spoilers]

What do you think of the story so far?  Comment away!  Just be sure to mark clearly any spoilers 🙂

If you’d like to join in, the sign up is open until midnight!

 

6 thoughts on “The Joy Luck Club Read-Along: Week 2 Recap

  1. Though I didn’t mention it I did also immediately think of Adam and Eve with The Moon Lady show. And I’m so glad to know I am not alone in my horror-stricken reactions to these stories. I’m just so very glad I wasn’t a female in this locale at that time. As I mentioned, however, we are all a product of the time and place where we grow up, so who knows? When you are unaware of alternatives, you don’t know..and you are usually intimidated into following the ‘traditions.’ I did appreciate the fact that Lindo’s story included the disclaimer about changes in the marriage arrangement had already occurred within cities/larger urban areas, but in the villages/outlying small towns, the older traditions remained intact. I do believe that is the way social change typically occurs… I do love this book! Having just read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, this is a good companion read.

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