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张在新

John Zaixin Zhang

 
 
 

日志

 
 

Naming, Displacement, Male/Female Power in The Joy Luck Club  

2008-11-02 11:07:07|  分类: +小说阅读 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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 Zhang, John Zaixin. Notes on The Joy Luck Club

 Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club (1989). London: Vintage, 1998.

 

“Fathers from a Thousand Li away” – Jing-mei Woo (June)

18     Swan feather – “comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.”

      Perfect American English

      Forgot why she had come and what she had left behind.

22      My mother to be nowhere. Neither inside nor outside.

24     No English word for hongmu.

36     Auntie An-mei despised Chinese relatives. Greedy. Auntie An-mei’s pain.

39     A lifetime of waiting to find the babies in Kweillin (what she left behind); mother and daughter who never really understand each other (what she had come for), p. 18. Other implications?

40     Mother in your bones. Mother-daughter gap, English.     Core of mother/daughter, female bonding. In the end, she finds her mother in herself, and her half sisters, p. 288 (“Together we look like our mother”).

“Scar” – An-mei Hsu

43     Painting of father watching. Male-power present at all times (in its absence). (Past condensed into an image in the present as omnipresent power).

43, 44      Painting of father – Foucault – the panopticon.

46      Pain in skin’s memory.

47      No more memory of mother in 2 years. – The way with a wound, which is closed.

48     Flesh vs. bones. (p. 40. Mother in your bones). – Forget the pain of the flesh (pain in my neck, pain in mother’s arm)     Love the mother caring for her mother (“shou” – cutting her own flesh for Popo), not the mother of my memory (mother as ghost, described by Popo) – core of mother/daughter relationship – female bonding. Ideal female images (caring, nurturing, submissive).

"The Red Candle” – Lindo Jong

54-6     Obedient wife. Don’t disgrace us.

58      Power of the wind. Female power. Parents’ wishes, never forget about myself.

59      Red candle to seal me.

63      All elements. Too balanced to have babies.   “Escape marriage without breaking my promise to my family.”

64      “Candle seals her good/bad fate” – wind to blow out candle – make up a story about a dream to fight back. Painting of grandfather – power/resistance. Power struggle within language (telling the story).

49, 66     Balance between inside/outside.  24-K gold, promise – “pure inside and out” – true to herself, and to her parents’ wishes.

"The Moon Lady” – Ying-ying St. Clair

67     Invisible. Memory – earliest recollection: tell the Moon Lady my secret wish.

68      Daughter being seen (present in space) and the foolishness of her life (present in time) as source of certainty to measure clarity of memory (past in time).

70      Wrong to think of your own needs. A girl can never ask, only listen.

72      A boy can run – nature. A girl – stands still. My shadow – dark side of me – same restless nature – blurring boy/girl binary.

72, 76      Stand still, and no one would notice this change. But Ahma found her (did notice her) – the child’s way to catch Ahma contradicting herself.

78      People not worth seeing are worthy of praise.

79     Seeing nobody who cared that I was missing, not being seen (invisible). Lost forever.

80      Moon, sun, spatial relation – “Never seeing one another.”

81      The Moon Lady stealing the Peach of everlasting life – punished to make her everlasting life a living hell – stay lost on the moon. Yin/yang, dark/light – “We had both lost the world, and there was no way to get it back.”     Woman – darkness in the presence of light (man) – woman invisible – darkness to highlight the importance of light, “bright truth” of men.

82      “A wish granted that could not be trusted – “an illusion” – telling a tired male actor (playing the Moon Lady) my secret wish.

83      Wished to be found – her identity as woman, her visibility to be re-claimed.

 “The Twenty-six Malignant Gates”

“The Voice from the Wall” – Lena St. Clair

87      Outside the protection of the house. (Home, home, sweet home?)   26 malignant gates - dangers

89      Strongest wind, invisible strength.

96      Wind – secrets only I could hear.

97      Wind – my own breath.    Reversal of gender roles – dishes – boys. New American rules.

      Chess grand master as if not a woman, national champion.

99      Clash between two cultures. Pride of family vs. pride of individual.

100     No escape routes in life with mother. Nowhere to go – strongest wind, mother – can’t beat her, strong invisible hold on daughter.

104      Name changed – “displaced person”

105      Seeing danger even in other Chinese people.

106      Put words in her mouth – learning English, put sth in your mind.

      Chinese, mistranslation on purpose.

107      Move up to a place – moving up in the world.

      He is American – white standard

109      For mother, nothing is in the right place. Feng Sui?

111      For once, no words to be put in mother’s mouth.

112     Baby died. What drives mother mad?

113     Silence here, noise next door.

114     Silence of our unhappy house.

115     Pain of not being seen – both mother and daughter - in her imagination saves mother from pain, from displacement that partly caused her trauma and psychosis (besides the death of the baby) – daughter’s pain too.   Wish to go to the other side of the wall (to a healthy mother-daughter relationship). (Protection of the house? Displacement, unhomeliness)

 “Half and Half” – Rose Hsu Jordan

118-9      Man vs. woman – decision making.

120      Dangerous chasm separating them.

121     Faith vs. fate.

122     Chinese acting like American.

124     26 malignant gates - dangers

131    Fate shaped half by expectation (for sth good) and half by inattention (to sth bad, the signs in Ted). Inscribes her son’s death in the Bible.

 "Two Kinds” – Jing-mei Woo

132     America – Mother’s hopes

133     Picture this prodigy part of me.

136     Mother wants her to be the best – go the extra mile – class, race.

141     Negative about China. Greedy relatives.

142    Two kinds: obedient and independent daughters, hope for sth too large.

144     “Pleading Child” “Perfectly Contented” - Two halves of the same song – two phases of her life

 "American Translation”

“Rice Husband” – Lena St. Clair

154     Doubtful cause.

155     Unfair relationship with Harold to begin with. Half/half – equal in man/woman, half the space?

158     He made it happen, but it was my idea.

159     Inequality.

161    Can’t share the cost of ice cream.

162     Mother – Lena cannot eat ice cream. Harold misses her point about Lena.

165     Marble end table collapses, structure off balance – family structure tilts to the male end – “poorly designed by Harold”

170     Four directions – You blow from the N, S, E, W – Other people don’t know which way to run – confused, disoriented.

177-8    (Waverly’s boyfriend) Rich’s “bad” table manners (cultural differences)

179     Rich so blind to cultural differences.

180     Mother – queen able to move in all directions.

180-1     Powerless in front of mother.

184     Leaving differences behind – moving West to reach the East

185     Words – true meaning from up high.

189     Dream of castrating Ted.

191     Mother confused. Won’t follow mother’s advice – independent.

192     Husband stops paying attention to the garden; thinking about pulling up roots.

193     Living in Ted’s shadow; dreaming of falling into a dark space

195    Weeds – power.

196     Husband – confused. Weeds everywhere.

197     Symbolic meaning of the pendant. Best quality in mom.

199     Cat vs. mother.

201     Boiling crab.

204     Homophobia - AIDS

208     Best quality – both good and bad. Considerate. Essence of mother handed down to me. Cat vs. me.

209    In mother’s position now, to face the cat, something unpleasant or harsh in life

 "Queen Mother of the Western Skies”

215      Mother/daughter bonding.

217     Tears feed someone else’s joy.

219     Boy vs. girl – Drag a girl down to mom’s own level, OK, but not OK for a boy. Double standards.

227     With all the comforts in her new life, no longer comfortable.

228     Fifth wife – decoration for his new car.

231     Easy to lose oneself to sth false

      Mother deserved her own household from Wu Tsing

239     Mother’s death as a weapon.

240     Death for position of First Wife, protection of children.

      Yuansyau – festive celebration with bitter poison inside

241     Silence broken.

242     Tell stories to save daughter. – Mother’s past to get daughter back (time over space), (past as a lesson to tell the sad truth of invisibility in the present)   Tiger lady – gold and black – gold (fierce heart), black (cunning, hiding its gold between trees, seeing and not being seen)

243     Daughter’s house for looking only

244-5     Kai gwa – taking a girl’s virginity

247     To stay outside and inside the marriage

248     Woman abandoned goods. Tiger waiting between trees.

249     Waiting in the house, with one eye open

251     Married, no longer waiting between the trees. Unseen spirit – tiger ghost, invisible, present.

252     Waiting between the trees to give spirit to daughter.

254     American circumstances and Chinese character don’t mix. Daughter ashamed of her.

258     Changing circumstances: marry American, have a baby.

264     Words: intentions. Words: instructions. Put those ideas in his mind (words). Language = thoughts.

      “A house is not home when a spouse is not at home.”

265     Naming – wishes within other signifiers or a place. Arbitrary in naming a person as in naming a place – can’t fix meaning once and for all.

265     Waverly belonging to the street (Waverly Street)? Face as a signifier also arbitrary meaning.

266     Chinese face in the US, foreign face in China – belonging nowhere.

267     Chinese in blood, a syndrome, a mutation.

272     Two faces. One with make-up in picture (US), the other plain in China.

280-1     Names – meaning unstable (opposites), or stable given as a convention

280, 288    Meaning of the name Suyuan: Long-cherished wish realized; long-held grudge dissolved.

288    Together we look like our mother.

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