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In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan's first novel, short-story-like vignettes alternate back and forth between the lives of four Chinese women in pre- 1949 China and lives of their American-born daughters in California. The book is a mediation on the divided nature of this emigrant life. The novel is narrated horizontally as well as vertically; friendships and rivalries develop among the daughters as well as the mothers. (Matuz 92) As Jing Mei Woo describes, "Auntie Lin and my mother were both best friends and arch-enemies who spent a lifetime comparing their children. I was one month older than Waverly Jong, Auntie Lin's prized daughter. From the time we were babies, our mothers compared the creases in our belly buttons, how shapely our earlobes were, how fast we healed when we scraped our knees, how thick and dark our hair was, how many shoes we wore out in one year, and later, how smart Waverly was at playing chess, how many trophies she had won last month, how many newspapers had printed her name, how many cities she had visited. " (95) In Amy Tan's novel she shows that the bond between a family is the strongest bond between any type of people. Tan has written a novel without a central plot but with characters and events that are as powerful as myth, and which often entangle it.
The stories of the aunties are interspersed with events involving the daughters, so that China and America come together in fantastic and unconnected succession. Tan lets each woman tell her own story; at the center of each tale is the ferocious love between a mother and daughter. (89) " Even though I taught my daughter the opposite, she still came out the same way! Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl. And I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way. " (Tan 92) Born in Oakland, California, in 1952 to a father educated as an engineer in Beijing and a mother raised in a well-to-do Shanghai family, Amy Tan grew up in an American world that was far from the childhood world of her parents. (Matuz 92) When pollsters ask people what is most important to happiness, the overwhelming majority give the same response: a good family life. Most individuals need the care, comfort, and security that a resilient, loving family provides.
Positivity plays a large part in the dynamics of healthy families. This influence, together with the security a family gains from being well loved, is one of the most compelling justifications for the existence of a family. (Time-Life 120) Anthropologists agree that the family is a central, positive institution in every society. (Ryder 23) As we bog down in the drama of daily living, a focus on the world can be hard to hold on to, but the support of a family helps. Supportiveness may be one of the most valuable tools for relationship building in your family. In healthy, functional family groups, individuals contribute to a peaceful and cooperative co-existence. (Bluestein 89) The distinct closeness that many siblings share forms the basis for what can be a rewarding and supportive lifelong connection. (Time-Life 57) As Jing Mei Woo describes her first time meeting her sisters, " And then I see her. Her short hair.
Her small body. And that same look on her face. She has the back of her hand pressed hard against her mouth. And I know it is not my mother, yet it is the same look she had when I was five and had disappeared all afternoon, for such a long time she was convinced I was dead, and when I appeared, sleepy-eyed, crawling from underneath my bed, she wept and laughed, biting the back of her hand to make sure it was true. And then I see her again, two of her, waving, and in one hand there is a photo, the Polaroid I sent them. As soon as I get beyond the gate, we run toward each other, all three of us embracing, all hesitations and expectations forgotten.
Mama, Mama, we all murmur, as if she is among us. My sisters look at me proudly... And now I also see what part of me is Chinese. It is obvious.
It is my family. It is in our blood, after all these years, it can finally be let go. " (Tan 287) Just because two kids live together or are related doesn't mean they have to like each other. Rivalry between siblings in only part of the story. Even more important is sibling loyalty. Sibling loyalty is apparent in the protective concern of brothers and sisters for one another. Many parents have seen a scolded child turn to a sibling for comfort or support-or have been surprised to find a youngster, usually critical of his rival, suddenly leap to his defense, as though some great injustice had been done.
Others have seen an older sibling suddenly grab a younger brother or sister when the smaller child has gotten too close to the top of the stairs. This same protectiveness can extend beyond the home, with the older child backing up the younger one in tense or difficult play situations involving other children. Such moments of solidarity build mutual trust. (Time-Life 76) For younger children, the presence of an older brother or sister also provides a ready role model, a chance to learn from the experience of someone else. Moreover, sibling relationships can lay the groundwork for broader social understanding. Teaching children to respect the feelings of others, to share and compete, to forgive and trust. These are necessary lessons, best learned in childhood.
For all their fighting, siblings more often than not identify with each other. As kin, they learn about the world together. And when shared experiences begin to accumulate, a sense of loyalty emerges that can deepen into a lifelong bond. Studies have shown that the more closely two people are related, the higher the correlation between their IQ's. Biological siblings, for example, usually score closer on IQ tests than do adopted siblings. (26) The vast majority of adults, more than ninety percent, get married. Many people marry out of a desire to share their life together as well as a desire to have children together. (Worth 29) The parent-child bond is one of the strongest.
Exactly when bonding occurs has been the subject of several studies. One theory holds that hormonal changes may make new mothers especially receptive during the first few days of an infants life. It is a fortunate thing that parent-child bonding is not confined to a single magical moment. Otherwise a parent's relationship with a little one might suffer irreparably should the mother and infant have to be separated during the days and weeks following the birth due to illness.
Luckily, for everyone involved, the speed with which bonding occurs does not affect its long-term quality. Once achieved, the parent-child bond deepens as the youngster...
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