Studying the Hyphen: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Selected Works by Amy Tan

Adcock, Nicola Claire (2007) Studying the Hyphen: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Selected Works by Amy Tan. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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It has been said "to be hyphenated is to be American" (Barber 614); however,
the hyphen presents many different issues. For Chinese-Americans, what part of a
person is Chinese, and what part American? Maxine Hong Kingston raises these ideas
in her novel The Woman Warrior, where on one hand her protagonist embraces her
Chinese heritage, and refers to herself as a "Chinese girl" (Kingston 25), yet she
dismisses certain parts of Chinese tradition: "And I don't want to go to Chinese
school anymore. I want to run for office in an American school..." (Kingston 180).
This cultural difference is best exemplified using the theme of mother-daughter
relations. Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck Club explores the relationships between
four generations of women: the grandmothers, the mothers, the daughters and the
grand-daughters. Each generation considers Chinese-American life differently; this
leads to conflict and resolutions in various relationships. This thesis aims to explore
these relationships in light of feminist criticism, to provide a close reading of the
novel focusing on the themes of conception, language and reflections and mirrors.

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