The mother's voice: a folkloric analysis of Amy Tan's the joy luck club
Despite the desire of some critics for ethnic accountability and cultural accuracy in modern fictional writings concerning the Asian culture, Amy Tan's novel has been received with enthusiasm by much of the American public. The success of her novel is due in part to the universality of the conflicts found within the mother-daughter relationships that she explores. Tan's superb narrative ability becomes apparent as she poignantly illustrates the relational dynamics occurring within four Chinese immigrant families. She uses personal narrative, vivid imagery, linguistical humor and situational tragedy to present the folkloric richness of her Chinese heritage.
The purpose of this paper is to examine Tan's literary use of the oral tradition along with selected folkloric devices and symbolism which enhance her storytelling. A clear understanding of these elements is important in comprehending the complexity of the depicted familial relationships and the ensuing conflicts, and in the development of appreciation for the underlying structure of her novel.