The Joy Luck Club


Amy Tan

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Popo is An-mei’s maternal grandmother, who raises her from ages four to nine. She warns An-mei to never speak of An-mei’s mother, and tells her frightening bedtime stories that scare her into obedience. When An-mei turns nine, Popo becomes deathly ill and An-mei’s mother returns home to care for her, even going so far as to slice off some of her arm in an effort to make a healing brew. Unfortunately, the attempts to nurse Popo back to health aren’t enough, and Popo dies without ever reconciling with An-mei’s mother.

Popo Quotes in The Joy Luck Club

The The Joy Luck Club quotes below are all either spoken by Popo or refer to Popo. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Joy Luck Club published in 2006.
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

My mother took her flesh and put it in the soup. She cooked magic in the ancient tradition to try to cure her mother this one last time. She opened Popo’s mouth, already too tight from trying to keep her spirit in. She fed her this soup, but that night Popo flew away with her illness. Even though I was young, I could see the pain of the flesh and the worth of the pain.

Related Characters: An-mei Hsu (speaker), Popo, An-mei’s mother
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Joy Luck Club LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Joy Luck Club PDF

Popo Character Timeline in The Joy Luck Club

The timeline below shows where the character Popo appears in The Joy Luck Club. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2: Scar
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
...recalls her childhood in China, when she lived with her grandmother rather than her mother. Popo, Chinese for ‘grandma,’ would regularly frighten her by saying An-mei’s mother was a ghost; in... (full context)
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Storytelling and Tradition Theme Icon
Popo becomes ill and bedridden in 1923, when An-mei is nine years old. Popo continues to... (full context)
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Storytelling and Tradition Theme Icon
Sexism and Power Theme Icon
...shameful that the family exiled her, calling her a traitor to their ancestors. An-mei realizes Popo’s stories were meant as warnings against her mother’s bad behavior, and disappointedly imagines her mother... (full context)
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Soon after that revelation, a pretty woman arrives at Popo’s house to nurse Popo back to health, and An-mei immediately knows it’s her mother even... (full context)
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
An-mei’s mother had begged An-mei to leave with her that night, but Popo refused to let her go, arguing that An-mei’s mother was a disgrace, and that the... (full context)
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Sacrifice Theme Icon
Right before Popo dies, An-mei discovers her mother cutting off a piece of her arm and cooking it... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 1: Magpies
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Storytelling and Tradition Theme Icon
...choice by not speaking up. This reminds her of when her mother leaves again, following Popo’s death in “Scar.” An-mei cries at the impending abandonment, but An-mei’s mother tells her a... (full context)