The Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck Club Part 2, Prologue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the parable for part two, a woman tells her daughter that she will fall off her bike if she rides around the corner of the house and out of her mother’s view.
As with the parable in part 1, this short story sets up a theme that connects the following four vignettes, namely about daughters who don’t value their mothers’ advice.
Themes
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Storytelling and Tradition Theme Icon
The young daughter doesn’t believe her, but the mother cites The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates, a book that describes twenty-six awful fates of children who travel beyond the protection of their homes. When the daughter demands to see the book, the mother tells her that it’s written in Chinese, so the daughter wouldn’t understand anyway.
Again, a mother uses stories as an indirect way of imparting wisdom and warnings to her daughter, backing up her point with the weight of long-standing tradition. By saying the book is in Chinese, the mother deflects any opportunity for the daughter to understand the morals firsthand (whether the book actually exists or not), but also suggests the difficulty of truly communicating knowledge across the Chinese/English language barrier, which is an extension of the immigrant/American-born barrier.
Themes
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Storytelling and Tradition Theme Icon
Immigration, Language, and Mistranslation Theme Icon
The daughter wants to know what all twenty-six fates are, and when the mother refuses to answer, she gets mad and pedals off on her bike, shouting back “you don’t know anything.” Even before she turns the corner of the house, the daughter falls and hurts herself, as her mother predicted.
The daughter ignores her mother’s attempt to protect her by de-valuing her mother’s knowledge or personal experience. The stubbornness backfires when the girl gets hurt as anticipated.
Themes
Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon