Discussion Questions for Amy Tanís The Joy Luck Club
"The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates"
1. In what sense does each of these stories present us with malignant gates?
2. In these stories, does punishment after transgression come from the inside or the outside?
3. How do the concept of balance and assimilation operate in each of these stories? Are characters' identities somehow affected by tensions between American and Chinese identities? Between American rules and Chinese rules?
4. What attempts do the mothers make to transmit specific cultural or personal values to their daughters? That is, can we see the mothers as products of the experiences described in the opening four stories? To what extent are the mothers successful in transmitting to their daughters an understanding of the values they learned in China?
5.. How does each story's title direct our attention and interest?
6. Consider the following issues in the relevant stories: invisible strength, American Rules, humility ("The Rules of the Game"); balance, hope, wanting to be found ("The Voice from the Wall"); responsibility, faith, & fate ("Half and Half"); balance, hope, expectations, No Blame ("Two Kinds").