The Joy Luck Club--Rich's Faux Pas.

Essay by bofei February 2008

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In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan explores the different mother-daughter relationships between the characters and the differences between cultures, which are also big parts of understanding the traditional Chinese mothers. Waverly anticipates that Lindo will dislike her fiancé Rich, since his faux pas in the dinner reveals their conflicts on cultural background.

Waverly tries to introduce Rich in the family dinner; however, the dinner goes horribly, as Rich tries to fit in, but fails horribly. Before the dinner, Waverly gets up the courage to tell mother about Rich. Her immediate response is ill spirited and negative: "So many spots on his face”. Waverly tries to turn it around by saying that spots are good luck, but Lindo mentions that when Waverly was young, she got chicken pox, how lucky was she then? Waverly cannot “save Rich in the kitchen”, and cannot save him at the dinner table either.

Rich tries to please Waverly’s parents; unfortunately, he doesn’t know what they appreciate. He has bought a bottle of French wine, what embarrassed is, they don’t even own wineglasses. Last but not least, Rich drinks “two frosted glasses full, while everybody else [has] a half-inch ‘just for taste.’” Innocent Rich doesn’t know that in Chinese traditions, while drinking a cup of tea or wine, they will only taste a little at first instead of drinking “two glasses full”. Further to this, in order to fit in Chinese family, Rich insisted “on using the slippery ivory chopsticks”. What ironic is, he holds them “splayed like the knock-kneed legs of an ostrich while picking up a large chunk of eggplant; on can imagine, the chunk falls and slides into his crotch that makes him be embarrassed in front of fiancé’s family again. Being a white boy who is going to marry into...