Throughout the novel, valuable jewelry is passed from mothers to daughters, symbolizing inheritance and sacrifice. Almost all the main characters grow up in impoverished families without many luxuries. Owning a single piece of jewelry speaks to the hard work it took to earn it, and to the preciousness of the material possession. In Chinese tradition, jewelry has additional significance; they’re often worn as protection charms from harm. In The Joy Luck Club however, the initial owner never keeps jewelry for herself, but gives it to her daughter. Lindo’s mother’s jade pendant is her only prized possession, but she presents it to Lindo on their last day together, hoping it brings her daughter good fortune and protection. Material sacrifice, no matter how great, doesn’t matter if it protects her daughter. Lindo continues the legacy by giving the same pendant to her daughter Waverly before Waverly’s first chess competition. Similar gifts are given to June by Suyuan, and to An-mei by An-mei’s mother. More than just an inherited object, the jewelry represents a mother’s constant love and a daughter’s priceless value.
Jewelry Symbol Timeline in The Joy Luck Club
The timeline below shows where the symbol Jewelry appears in The Joy Luck Club. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 3: The Red Candle
...enough to go to Huang Taitai’s. Before leaving, Lindo’s mother gives Lindo her precious jade necklace for good luck. Once in Huang Taitai’s home, Lindo is treated like a lowly servant,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1: Rules of the Game
...her up for neighborhood chess tournaments. At the first tournament, Lindo gives Waverly her jade pendant, the same piece of jewelry Lindo’s mother gave young Lindo for good luck; Waverly easily... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3: Half and Half
...bible and calls out to God, asking for mercy. She also sacrifices a valuable sapphire ring to the ancient ocean gods—throwing the ring into the water—asking in return for Bing’s body.... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4: Best Quality
Part 4, Chapter 1: Magpies
...actually glass. In exchange for the fake pearls, An-mei’s mother gives An-mei a beautiful sapphire ring so An-mei can “recognize what is true.” At the same time, An-mei notices that Second... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 4: A Pair of Tickets