Study Guide: The Joy Luck Club

I. Pre-reading Activities

B. Appreciating the Author's "Analogical" Storytelling Style

Amy Tan uses analogies in her narrative. Analogies show comparisons with "like" or "as." Through her analogies, the author gives color to her descriptions, makes the reader see the picture better, and often broadens the reader's consciousness of human and animal behavior, nature, history, social and political movements, and so forth. At the same time, the author shares a vision of her imagination and her world.

The following analogies are in the first chapter of The Joy Luck Club:

  1. “And her friends at the Joy Luck Club said she died like a rabbit: quickly and with unfinished business left behind” (p. 5).
  2. “When the sirens cried out to warn us of bombers, my neighbors and I jumped to our feet and scurried to the caves to hide like wild animals” (p. 9).
  3. “So when the bombing sounds grew farther away, we would come back out like newborn kittens scratching our way back to the city” (p. 9).
  4. “I carried these things until deep grooves grew in my hands. And I finally dropped one bag after the other when my hands began to bleed and became too slippery to hold on to anything. Along the way, I saw others had done the same, gradually given up hope. It was like a pathway inlaid with treasures that grew in value along the way” (pp. 13- 14).
  5. “In those days, before my mother told me her Kweilin story, I imagined Joy Luck was a shameful Chinese custom, like the secret gathering of the Ku Klux Klan or the tom-tom dances of TV Indians preparing for war” (p. 16).
  6. “When I failed to become a concert pianist, or even an accompanist for the church youth choir, she finally explained that I was late-blooming, like Einstein, who everyone thought was retarded until he discovered a bomb” (p. 28).
  7. “‘I will remember everything about her and tell them,’ I say more firmly. And gradually, one by one, they smile and pat my hand. They still look troubled, as if something were out of balance” (p. 32).