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THINGS TO BRING

Shifra Kie Alyssa Siana Teddy All

White rice Moon pies Tea Clementines Strawberry Dumplings


ice cream

Grapefruit Soy sauce Red Mini Seven- Mahjong tiles Tiger


slices envelopes up/Coke cans decorations

Red candles Chess set Fortune


cookies

Can of soup

SCRIPT

Shifra: We read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It is about four mothers who immigrated from
China, as well as their Chinese-American daughters. The books tells each of their stories through
a first-person perspective, and highlights the large changes they experience over the course of
their lives. The mothers in the story are all part of a Joy Luck Club, where they regularly share
Chinese traditions and reminisce about their experiences. This is our classroom interpretation of
the Joy Luck Club. Everything we have here represents an important event somewhere in the
book.
Teddy: The book opens with Jing-Mei Woo attending her first meeting of the Joy Luck Club
with her mothers friends. Her mother recently died, so Jing-Mei is there to take her place. Food
is an important part of the Joy Luck Club, so we brought dumplings. Amy Tan writes, Im
drawn first to to a large assortment of what Ive always called finger goodies - thin skinned
pastries filled with chopped pork, beef, shrimp, and unknown stuffings that my mother used to
describe as nutritious things.
Kie: At every meeting of the Joy Luck Club, the mothers also play mahjong. Amy Tan writes
from the perspective of Jing-Meis mother, Chinese mah jong, you must play using your head,
very tricky. You must watch what everybody else throws away and keep that in your head as
well. Were not teaching you how to play mahjong today because that would take too long, but
we brought in mahjong tiles to represent this important aspect of the book.
Alyssa: In the next section, the story of An-Meis childhood is told. When she badly burned
herself as a child, her grandmother took care of her by pouring cool water on her burn with a
hollowed grapefruit. Amy Tan writes, Every night, Popo would pour cool water over my neck
from the hollowed cup of a large grapefruit. Thats why we have grapefruit.
Siana: You can see a red candle on this table. In traditional Chinese weddings, theres a
superstition surrounding red candles. After the couple gets married, they light a red candle. If the
candle goes out overnight, its bad sign for their marriage. Lindo Jong, one of the mothers in the
book, gets married against her will as a young woman, and in order to escape her misery, she
purposely blows out her red candle in the middle of the night. Amy Tan writes, I saw the
matchmaker place the lighted red candle in a gold holder and then hand it to a servant. This
servant was supposed to watch the candle all night to make sure neither end went out.
Shifra: Next, the author tells a story of Ying-Ying, one of the mothers, as a child. She and her
family are celebrating the Moon Festival, a large Chinese holiday in the fall. Mooncakes are a
staple food during the Moon Festival. Amy Tan writes, Amah finally noticed me and gave me a
mooncake in the shape of a rabbit. However, Mooncakes are not available this time of year, so
we brought moonpies instead, since thats the closest thing we could find. Moonpies taste better
anyways.
Teddy: This chapter is about Waverly Jongs childhood. Waverly grew up in San Francisco and
was a chess prodigy. She was her familys pride and joy, as well as a celebrity in the Chinese
community. Amy Tan writes from Waverlys point of view, I loved the secrets I found within the
sixty-four black and white squares. I carefully drew a handmade chessboard and pinned it to the
wall next to my bed, where at night I would stare for hours at imaginary battles. We have a
chess set to represent a big part of Waverlys childhood.
Kie: Next, the author tells the story of Rose Hsu, one of the daughters. When Rose was a child,
her brother Bing got lost during a family trip to the beach and drowned. Roses mother was
desperate to find him, and following a Chinese superstition, decided to throw tea into the ocean
to try and summon Bing. Amy Tan writes, We must sweeten the temper of the Coiling Dragon
who lives in the sea My mother poured out tea sweetened with sugar into the teacup, and
threw this into the sea. Thats why we have tea.
Alyssa: Next, the story goes back to Jing-Meis life, and talks about the piano lessons she took as
a child. Jing-Meis mother wanted her to be a prodigy, but Jing-Mei eventually quit the piano and
disappointed her family. Later, when she was older, she went back and tried to play two piano
pieces called Pleading Child and Perfectly Contented. Amy Tan writes, After I played
[Pleading Child and Perfectly Contented] a few times, I realized they were two halves of the
same song. Later, were going to play the recordings of these songs.
Siana: Lena St. Clairs mother, Ying-Ying, was very superstitious, and told her that if she wasted
food, her future husband would be unhealthy and ugly. Lena, afraid of having to marry her next-
door neighbor who she considered ugly, stopped eating altogether in hopes of killing him. Two of
the foods she did not eat were rice and strawberry ice-cream. Later, as an adult, when she tried to
eat these foods, she could not, because they brought back bad memories. Amy Tan writes, Aii,
Lena she had said after that dinner so many years ago, your future husband have one pock mark
for every rice you not finish. We have strawberry ice cream and rice to represent this important
event.
Shifra: The book tells the story of Waverly Jongs adulthood. She marries an white man, and her
husbands American customs clash with her parents traditional Chinese ones. Once, Waverlys
husband, Rich, accidentally insults her mother Lindo. He pours soy sauce on her cooking,
indicating that it isnt salty enough. Amy Tan writes, Ai! This dish not salty enough, no flavor,
she complained This was our familys cue to eat some and proclaim it the best she had ever
made. But before we could do so, Rich said, You know, all it needs is a little soy sauce. The
soy sauce we brought represents the divide between Chinese and American tradition in this book.
Teddy: The next section describes Rose Hsus toxic marriage, and talks about how she struggles
after getting divorced. In the days after her divorce, she will only eat chicken noodle soup, which
symbolizes a low point in her life. Amy Tan writes, I stayed in bed for three days, getting up
only to go to the bathroom or to heat up another can of chicken noodle soup. We brought in a
can of soup to symbolize this important aspect of the book.
Kie: The book then goes on to talk about the Lunar New Year, which the Joy Luck families
celebrate together. During their celebration, the tension between the families is heightened
because traditions and superstitions are disregarded and awkward conversations occur. Red
envelopes are a large Chinese tradition during the Lunar New Year usually, they have money
in them, but were not giving you money. Were actually going to show you how to make your
own red envelopes in a few minutes. Oranges are also considered a sign of prosperity, so they are
eaten during the Lunar New Year. Amy Tan writes, My mother went to the kitchen and returned
with a plate of oranges sliced into wedges.
Alyssa: The book discusses Ying-Ying St. Clairs childhood in detail. She was born in the year
of the Tiger, and everything she experienced was connected to her headstrong, determined spirit.
Amy Tan writes, I was born in the year of the Tiger [My mother] told me why a tiger is gold
and black. It has two ways. The gold side leaps with its fierce heart. The black side stands still
with cunning, hiding its gold between trees, seeing and not being seen, waiting patiently for
things to come. I did not learn to use my black side until [later.] That is why we have tiger
decorations around the room.
Siana: The book discusses Lindo Jongs young adulthood, shortly after she immigrated to San
Francisco. Lindo worked in a fortune cookie factory, and while she did not like her job, thats
how she met her husband and Joy Luck Club friends and slowly learned about American customs
and culture. Amy Tan writes, This job in the cookie factory was one of the worst. Big black
machines worked all day and night pouring little pancakes onto moving round griddles. The
other women and I sat on high stools, and as the little pancakes went by, we had to grab them off
the hot griddle just as they turned golden. We have fortune cookies to represent Lindos
transition from Chinese life to American life.
Kie: In the very last chapter of the book, Jing-Mei Woo goes to China to visit her mothers
family and reconnect with her roots. She is looking forward to having an authentic experience,
since she is starting to accept her Chinese side. However, in her hotels bar, she finds American
drinks. The soda that we brought is representative of the fact that Jing-Mei struggles to fully
accept her Chinese identity, and is restrained by her American lifestyle and customs. Amy Tan
writes, I find a built in wet bar with a small refrigerator stocked with Heineken beer, Coke
Classic, and Seven-up And again I say out loud, This is communist China?
Teddy: One of the biggest themes of The Joy Luck Club, as you can see from the various things
we brought in, is that while tradition is difficult to keep, it is an extremely important part of ones
life.
Shifra: Another theme is that ones heritage will always be a part of his/her identity, as seen in
the lives of the daughters in the book.
Alyssa: Now that you know a little bit about The Joy Luck Club, were going to have our own
version of the Joy Luck Club!