Discussion Questions for Amy Tanís The Joy Luck Club


"American Translation"


1.   Once more, read the opening italicized passage carefully and identify its principal images and thematic concerns.  Be prepared to examine how these images and themes inform the four stories in this section of the novel.









2.   "Rice Husband":  How does this story further our understanding of Ying-Ying's tiger spirit?  How is the novel's concern with the issue of balance further developed in this story?  Explain the full impact of Ying-Ying's question: "Then why don't you stop it?"









3.   "Four Directions":  How is Waverly like her mother?  Which of her behaviors show that her mother is in her bones?  Is Waverly's assessment of her mother's actions and beliefs accurate or misguided?  How do you know?









4.   "Without Wood":  Why is Rose so confused about her own desires and beliefs?  In what way does Rose's situation expose the flaw of the American version of a daughter's proper status?  How does this story further develop the issue of the "mother in your bones"?  Why is An-Mei so against psychiatrists? 









5.   "Best Quality":  Has Jing-Mei correctly understood her mother's attitude toward her before and during the dinner?  What is the significance of the "life's importance"?  Of Jing-Mei's attempt to select the worst crab?  Of the tomcat at the story's end?