FrancesHuang's Blog

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Long Proposal!

In Amy Tan’s novels, several elements of traditional Chinese ideology are vividy depicted to show the readers Chinese mentality and ways of thinking. These elements inculde worshiping ancerstors, the five elements, curse of the dead, and signs of the zodiac. In The Joy Luck Club, Lindo Jong delibrated a plot to convince Huang TaiTai that the family’s ancestors didn’t approve the marriage with her son, then she succesfully escaped from this unhappy marriage. An-Mei Hsu spoke on behave of her dead mother to frighten Wu Tsing and ensure her position in Wu’s family. In The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Luling Young sufferd from the fear of her dead mother’s curse for her entire life and thus she led herself to an unhappy life. These three characters’ lives were influenced and changed by Chinese traditional belief. However, we can exam the psychological reasons for these four elements of Chinese traditional belief and see how they affect the believers’s lives.

This research paper is to fulfill the writing research credits required by Wenzao Ursuline College of Languages.

Literature Review
Halmiton(1999) pointed out that Amy Tan applied three elements of traditional Chinese custom which are astrology, the five elements, and Feng Shui in the Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan, 1989). In this paper, I will narrow astrology to the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. The Chinese zodiac signs and the five elements are the main concerns for the Chinses to decide if couples will have good marriages. In the Bonesetter’s Daughter (Amy Tan, 2001), Luling frequently begged for her dead mother’s forgiveness and the guilt toward the death of her mother drove her to an irrational behavior – asked her daughter to do “ghostwriting”. Xiumei Pu(2006) indicated that Luling sought for the help of her mother’s spirit by “ghostwriting” when she faced the “cirsis” and difficulties in her life. Luling was trapped in her fear and guilt, yet she searched for her mother’s spirit as her psychological comfort. One very impoartant element that has been mentioned yet is the worship of ancestors. Francis Hsu (1948) told us that there were psychological reasons for the Chinese to believe the ancestors were there to protect the family. When members of the family respected ancestors, they would ask the ancestors to decide the family matters for them. The domestic conflicts would decrease, since the family memebers follow the ancestors’ will without insisting their own opionions. Haenel T (1983) defined the term “superstition”, “faith”, and “delusion”. It is interesting that “superstition” is defined as an”narcissistic attempt” for people who are not confident to find a balance for themselves. Giora Keinan (2002) experimented on the relationship of the stress that people suffer and their superstitious behavior, and agreed that people tend to have superstitious behavior to reduce the level of the stress.

Research Method
This paper will analyze the elements in Any Tan’s The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter’s Daughter, focuing on worshiping ancerstors, the five elements, curse of the dead, and signs of the zodiac. I will exam these four elements of traditional Chinese ideology with the episodes of Lindo Jong and An-Mei Hsu in The Joy Luck Club, and the experiences of Luling Young in The Bonesetter’s Daughter. The possible psychological reasons behind these customs will also be explained.


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