Joy Luck Club And Society Of the many novels written in recent history, perhaps two of the most of these society expectant novels are Amy Tans The Joy Luck Club, and Mark Twains The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. These book present the views of society very well, yet at the same time, differentiating very much from each other. In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, a boy takes an incredible voyage down the river, representing of course lifes journey. This voyage takes Huck Finn through many places, and demands him to keep good moral decisions along the way, regardless of what society thinks. In the process of the story, Huck Finn learns that although society is usually correct in his eyes, he must learn to make and keep decisions that he knows deviate from societies, yet he also learns to know his decisions to be morally correct.
In a different perspective, The Joy Luck Club sheds an indefinitely different light on societies expectations, partly because of the different ethnicities involved in these two stories. The societal demands on the characters in the Joy Luck Club are very different from the ones expressed in Twains novel. While the characters in The Joy Luck Club are Chinese immigrants, the characters involved in Twains novel are White Americans, with the exception of Jim, the Black slave Huck learns to befriend. In critiquing these two novels, one notices that these two novels are in fact very different from each other, especially so in the aspects of societal expectations. In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, the main conflict that comes up is that of the issue of slavery.
The society in this novel does not even consider slavery to be wrong, while Huck Finn continues to shun slavery more and more, as the book unfolds. This very belief Huck Finn beholds is evident, with his ever growing friendship with Jim, a slave in the novel. While society sees Jim as property, Huck can discriminate, and sees past the societal ploy for ethical mistreat on another human being, more specifically on an entire race. In this same novel, other societal expectation are present, and noticeable. This is evident through Hucks education. Society expects him to be educated, while Huck resents this all the while (Twain 20,21).
In this expectation of Huck by society, there can be found no wrong. In fact, this is beneficial for Huck, seeing how without an education, he would most likely follow in the path of his poorly educated drunken father. One can deduce, however that Huck eventually begins to adapt to school life, and gradually learn to live with it. Huck states, At first I hated school, but by and by I got to where I could stand it. (Twain 20) This shows Hucks true feelings about his education.
In The Joy Luck Club, the expectations imposed on the Chinese immigrants by society differ from those previously seen in novels such as The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. As new immigrants to the United States, the Chinese women in the book , more specifically the daughters named in this book, are expected by their fellow ethnic members to excel, regardless of language and cultural differences. This is evident by the way the mothers are always pressuring their daughters to excel, sometimes in areas that their daughters lack talent in. Such is the case with June, or Jing-Mei. Her mother, believing that America has plenty of opportunity for all, placed her in piano lessons, and expected something to come of it (Tan 132).
June, on the other hand, realizes what her mother is trying to do, and reacts, stating, Im not a genius! I cant play the piano. (Tan 136) After her mother sacrifices much to obtain piano lessons for June, the daughter realizes it is all in vain, for she lacks both the talent and the motivation to ever become a child prodigy on the piano. Junes mother expects her daughter to be a piano prodigy partly because of Waverly Jongs excellent success at the game of chess. Just as Waverly is a child chess prodigy, June is expected to be a prodigy of the piano. However, as Waverlys mother continues to drive her daughter to be better, Waverly continues to grow more and more frustrated, until one day she cant hold back any more, and runs away, so to speak. Waverlys mother has expected her to become a prodigy of chess, and that she did. However, as Waverly started to get recognition for this on many local and national levels, her mother began to show Waverly off, and this upset Waverly.
This is evident when the situation comes to a head as the two are in the alley, and Waverly tells her mother her feelings, before running away. (Tan 94-100) These two novels are very elaborately written, with different styles evident in each one, to convey the societal expectations thought to exist on the characters, by the authors. Twain is quite covert in expressing the societal expectations on Huck, while Tan, on the contrary, is rather direct. Twain uses his novel as a mask of sorts, to convey his message, without any of it resting on his shoulders. Tan, goes about it in a different manner, and states directly in her novel, how the characters dont desire to meet the demands placed on them, and specifies on the societal demands.
From reading both of these books, one can get an overview of the societal demands involved in them, and perhaps see some of the same demands evident in their own life.