Marriage in “Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan

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In the novels The Joy-Luck Club, we learn about the customs and traditions of the engagement and marriage of the parents of the protagonists. Community used matchmakers to help find their children’s spouses. In both Asia and Eastern Europe, it was customary for the bride’s family to present the groom’s family with a dowry. What was in the dowry was used to measure the respectability of the bride’s family beyond the bride herself. An interesting difference between the two cultures is that in Asia, the mother would choose the bride for her son, while in Eastern Europe, it was the father who worked with the matchmaker to choose a husband for his daughter.

When these families immigrated to America many things began to change. As they assimilated into American culture matchmakers were no longer part of the marriage process and dowries also became a thing of the past. Spouses were found outside of the family circles and began to be based on love, not formulas. The image of marriage as an institution from the standpoint of the female characters changed.

In The Joy-Luck Club you can see the differences between marriage as an institution from the standpoint of the female characters back in China and see them evolve in present day America. Women are now able to choose who they marry and are allowed to have an opinion in the process. Even divorces are now possible for the women. The Chinese mothers always stand by to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

In the novel The Joy-Luck Club the marriages in America were different. Women now had a voice and could fight back. This can be seen in the marriage between Rose and Ted. When Ted first comes to get Rose from the house, her mom says, “He is American,” as if I had been too blind to notice…. “I’m American too,” I said. “And it’s not like I’m going to marry him or something. (Tan, Joy Luck Club, 177)” The mother is not very happy that Ted is American and not of Chinese descent. Even though the parents were in America, they hoped that their children would marry other Chinese people and not Americans.

When Ted’s mother is talking to Rose about Ted, “she assured me she had nothing whatsoever against minorities; she and her husband, who owned a chain of office supply stores, personally knew many fine people who were Oriental, Spanish, and even Black. (Tan, Joy Luck Club, 118)” The Americans were pretty clear that they did not want their son to marry a girl who is not white and American like them. Rose and Ted did not follow their parents’ wishes and in the end, they got married. After they were married, “Ted decided where they went on vacation. He decided what new furniture to buy.”

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Marriage in “Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan. (2021, Nov 13). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/marriage-in-joy-luck-club-by-amy-tan/

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