Childhood is the foundation of who we become when we’ve grown. In Amy Tan’s novel “The Joy Luck Club” we see the journey to adulthood in the lives of four mothers and their daughters. These women all made sacrifices. Some earlier on in life, and some later. One woman, for the honor of her family, was betrothed at the age of two to a wealthier, more important family, more important at least in society. Because of her loyalty to her family she endured much emotional and psychological suffering and in turn became a stronger woman. Not strong in body, but in character. This woman is Lindo Jong.
When she was but two years old, the village matchmaker came to her home and Lindo was pledged to marry a boy who was only a year old. She was twelve years old when the Fen River flooded and destroyed her village and her home. This natural disaster forced her family to move to a nearby village, but Lindo stayed behind. She was to move in with her future in-laws, the Huangs. When she arrived at her new home, the place where she would start her new future, she could see by the outside of the house that the Huangs were much higher in society than her family was. Once she stepped inside, however, she sees that the house is uncomfortable and imposing. Lindo was not welcomed warmly as a new member of the family. Instead she was shown to the servants’ quarters which gave her a good idea about her position in this household. Her sole purpose of being the bride of Tyan-yu was to provide grandsons for Huang Taitai, her mother-in-law-to-be.
Lindo was determined to honor her parents and worked hard to become a good wife, learning how to sew, cook and clean. She had promised her family she would learn to be a good wife and a good daughter-in-law as well. This kind of honor is common in Chinese families but culturally not as common in the American household. Promises are easily broken in the American family but it is a matter of honor when the same happens in a Chinese home.
When Lindo finally does marry Tyan-yu he is afraid of her and afraid of sexual intercourse. They are still not even teenagers and this duty of marriage is expected of them. Tyan-yu does not even let Lindo lie in the bed with him but forces her to sleep on the cold floor with only a pillow. When Lindo’s mother-in-law sees that she is not producing babies she confines her to bed so the seeds of her son wont fall out. Little does she know that Tyan-yu hasnt planted any seeds into Lindos womb. She also takes away all the gold jewelry from Lindo received as wedding gifts because she feels that the weight is partly responsible for Lindo not conceiving any grandchildren, grandsons to be exact, Lindo tries, against her desires, to make some progress with Tyan-yu. She desperately wants to please Huang Taitai because she made the promise to her parents. After no response, she realizes that no matter how much control her new family has over her actions they can never capture her soul. Lindo remembers that on the night of their marriage she crept downstairs and blew out Tyan-yu’s end of the traditional, double-ended marriage candle, meaning her marriage was not consummated. Through planning and patience Lindo found a way to trick her mother-in-law and divorce her husband without having her parents lose face. She was faithful to her parents and to herself. And as a reminder of what she has conquered she buys a new piece of jewelry, always twenty-four carat, whenever she can. And once a year she takes off all her gold and thinks of how she stayed true to herself.
Lindos character is to be admired. Not many people would make the sacrifices she had to save the good name of her family and literally give up the life that she knew. Honor is a serious matter in Chinese culture and not nearly as important in America. As a result of the sacrifices she did make Lindo was able to start a new life, come to America, meet and marry her husband by choice and have children. She is a woman of strength and dignity and she is filled with joy and luck. Through the trials that try the soul she remained faithful to herself and realized her worth.