The second half of the Joy Luck Club is equally entertaining as the first half was. It ties in all of the stories from the first half. Additionally, it makes a lot of connections to the other members of the Joy Luck Club, which the first half rarely did. I found that I never became bored while reading this book because there are no parts to it which drag on. Each story is "short and sweet." A new chapter begins before one chapter can drag on.
In the second half, Waverly Jong continues her story about playing chess. She winds up quitting the game all together when she loses the support of her mother. She loses confidence and begins to think that her mother is the enemy and not her opponent. This causes her to lose matches because she is so sure her mother is stronger than her. Finally she gives up chess. This reminds me of a quote I think is interesting. The quote is, "If you love something let it go. If it comes back to you its yours. If it doesn't it never was." Waverly never truly regains her skill at chess. It is as though she lost her gift, like Asher, in My Name is Asher Lev, gives up drawing. The difference is that his love came back to him whereas Waverly's did not.
The St. Clair mother and daughter chapters exemplify the differences between Chinese ideals and American ones. Ying-Ying St. Clair is the mother of Lena St. Clair. Ying-Ying describes her daughter's home. She tells how there are many material items but none with practical purposes. For instance, there is a table that is only strong enough to hold up a vase with a single flower. Lena has a contrary opinion to her home. She loves it. This useless table is in the guest bedroom of her house that she likes the most. She perceives her home on appearance, whereas her mother judges it based on practicality. These differing opinions reflect their opposing ideas on values such as marriage.
The book is informative on the Chinese culture. It uses many Chinese words and gives there definitions. It also gave me the opportunity to get rid of many stereotypes I had about China. I learned about customs they have. For instance, I never knew what mah jong was. I also did not realize how much pride Chinese-Americans carry in holding on to their heritage. The book made it seem very important for them to stay in touch with their origins. For instance, Jing-Mei goes to China to meet the twins her mother had lost during a difficult time. Another thing is that I never realized how popular chess was in China. I never perceived it as an international-type game until now.
This book also covers the theme of maturation. All of the members of the Joy Luck Club mature both during the book and in the stories that they share with the reader. The most maturing is seen within Jing-Mei since she has the most to tell. When the book began she had no understanding of her mother. However, at the end she felt connected to her. She learned about her mother's secret past. This enabled her to have greater respect for her mother. By understanding her mother she was able to understand the difference between her two selves: the Chinese side and the American side. This was something she had struggled with understanding her entire life.
This book was a good example of good literature and I am glad I chose to read it because I was able to absorb a lot of facts within this fictional book.