Amy Tan, a Chinese-American novelist, was born in Oakland California on 19th February 1952. Amy grew up in the northern part of California but later moved to Europe together with her younger brother and mother following the death of her older brother and father due to a brain tumor. Amy Tan disliked her Chinese heritage and appearance being the only Chinese girl in class as early as her third grade till her graduation from high school. Amy parents; especially her mother expected a lot from her daughter. Daisy, Amy’s mother, wanted her to a neurosurgeon and a part-time concert pianist she believed that Amy could become anything she wanted in America. Amy Tan’s mother expected her to have the Chinese culture of obedience though she had not realized Amy’s rebellious nature. Amy Tan had interest in wring novels especially after she won a contest on essay writing at eight years of age\. Amy had dreams of writing short stories and novels in her life. Amy’s life experience, the people she interacted with and the western culture led her to write her Joy Luck Club bestselling novel in 1989 in which the Two Kinds highlights the generational differences and a mother’s different expectations from a daughter’s leading to a conflict of interests.  A Pair of Tickets, however, reveals Amy Tan’s reunion and slow appreciation of her Chinese Culture.



Amy Tan, her Chinese who in Chinese is An-Mei which means American blessing was born in Oakland California in 1952 to her parents Daisy and John after immigrating to America in 1940’s when they escaped from the Japanese invasion of China in 1940. Amy grew up in the northern part of California but later moved to Europe together with her younger brother and mother following the death of her older brother and father due to a brain tumor.

While in Europe, Amy attended her high school in Monteux in Switzerland. After high school, Amy returned to further her studies in United States’ college, attending Oregon’s Linfield College, later the San Jose city college. After college, Amy attended San Jose State University and proceeded to the University of California at St. Cruz and finally the Berkeley University of California.

Upon completing her college, Amy worked as a consultant in language development and a freelance writer for corporate. Amy wrote the story on “Rules of the Game” for a workshop, forming the foundation of the Joy Luck Club, her first novel (Tan, Amy).

Following the publication of the book that explored the relationship between the Chinese women and their American-Chinese daughters in 1989, the book becomes the most extended bestseller that ran through the New York Times in 1989.  Amy Tan had two sons, John and Peter. Peter was born in 1950, and four years later, Amy gave birth to John in 1954.

The joy luck club won lots of awards such as the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The Joy Luck Club, Amy’s oldest work has received over twenty-five translations globally into different languages such as Chinese. In China, a co-writer who used the motion picture of the Joy Luck Club to write the screenplay (Tan, Amy).

Amy Tan’s other two books include the Hundred Secret Senses in she wrote in 1995 and her other 1991 Kitchen God’s Wife have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Amy’s latest novel The Bonesetter’s daughter received publication in 2001 (Tan, Amy). Amy’s children’s books include the 1992 Moon Lady and the 1994 Chinese Siamese Cat. Amy and Lou DeMattei, her husband for over twenty years both live in San Francisco and New York.


Amy based her work during the period of racial and cultural differences during the 1980’s. Amy grew up in America despite being of Chinese origin. Amy was the only Asian student in a class hence she learned to adapt and appreciate the western culture more than the Chinese culture. Amy Tan, because of the people and western culture, based her work on critical racial stereotyping, which when she recalls, she negatively depicts the Chinese cultural heritage due to the influence of western American citizens.

In 1989 during a Los Angeles Times with an interview Elaine Woo, Amy revealed that John and Daisy rarely tried preventing her from interacting with American citizens as they wanted her to develop Chinese culture but have American circumstances, Amy defied her parents and did her best to adopt the American culture. The western culture and American citizens in influenced Amy Tan’s work during 1989 when she authored her.

Primary Work

Two Kinds

Two Kinds is one is one of Amy Tans; Joy Luck Club bestselling novel (Tan, Amy). Tan’s “Two Kinds” story is a story that seeks to illustrate two central themes which include the generational differences among immigrant Chinese-American families and complicated relationship between a mother (Suyuan Woo) and her daughter (Jing-Mei Woo).

The Two Kinds reveals the conflict between a daughter and her mother as the mother wants to make her daughter into what a daughter does not wish to. The dispute remains unresolved for many years. Suyuan forces her to attend piano lessons, but June’s fails her recital performances.

Suyuan wants her daughter to be an extraordinary child, and she tutors her on Geography and Mathematics as a way of trying to determine her daughter’s talents and geniuses (Cahill, Susan, and Julia Alvarez). Suyuan attended The Ed Sullivan Show, and when she saw how a Chinese girl was playing piano, Suyuan immediately plans for her daughter to take the piano lesson. Jing-Mei Woo’s teacher is however deaf and she did not efficiently learn (Tan, Amy).

Jing-Mei Woo purposely does her piano recital wrongly as she though failing in concert would make her drop her piano lessons. However, that was not the case as she is forced to continue with her experiences which frustrate her until she wishes she had died just like her twin sisters her mother, Suyuan had to abandon in China.

Secondary sources

A Pair of Tickets

A Pair of Tickets in the last story in a series of short stories that form the more substantial Amy Tan’s 1989 famous novel “The Joy Luck Club.” The Pair of Tickets involves the traveling of Jing-Mei Woo, the thirty-six-year-old woman in China in the company of her old father Canning Woo after the recent death of her mother, Suyuan Woo. Both Jing-Mei Woo and Canning Woo have returned to China from San Francisco to visit their relatives (Igeleke, Ebony, et al.).

Jing-Mei Woo reflects on her Chinese heritage, a conversation she once had with her mother whom she told how she did not have much feeling for Chinese as her heritage. Instead, Jing-Mei Woo’s California’s lifestyle has little or no connection with her homeland Chinese heritage.  Suyuan had told her daughter that one day she would reconnect with her Chinese heritage (“Chinese Americans: The History and Culture of the People”).

Jing-Mei Woo was fearful concerning their second journey. After visiting her paternal grandparents, Jing-Mei Woo and her father plan to go and attend Jing-Mei Woo’s twin half-sisters whom they had left for dead in China when the Japanese forces invaded China in the 1940s and since then Jing-Mei Woo has never met them again (Xijun, Lu). Jing-Mei Woo’s mother Suyuan always hoped for a reunion with her twin daughters even after reuniting with her husband Canning Woo, Jing-Mei Woo’s father who had also moved to the United States.

The twin sisters sent a letter to Jing-Mei Woo’s family when they learned of the death of their mother, Suyuan. Jing-Mei Woo and her father started planning for a journey for a reunion with the twin half-sisters, a trip that later turned to be one of spiritual pilgrimage to China (Igeleke, Ebony, et al.).

The Two Tickets is a story of reunion and self-discovery for -Mei and her true identity as a Chinese girl (“Chinese Americans: The History and Culture of a People”). Jing-Mei learned a lot of her family history and identity during their visit at their relatives, and she develops a stronger sense of her history and connection with Chinese culture as her roots (“Chinese Americans: The History and Culture of a People”).

During a talk with her father one night, Canning Woo tells her daughter Jing-Mei about the historical past of her mother. Through Canning, Jing-Mei learns that her mother Suyuan was married to a military officer. The Japanese invasion forced Suyuan, together with her two little twin daughters to flee, trekking miles as they escape (Xijun, Lu).

Suyuan was suffering from dysentery and due to exhaustion; left her two little twin daughters along the road. Suyuan strapped valuables and her remaining money to the clothes of the children and a note with her family’s address. The address had her family details and an offer for a reward for any person who found and took care of her children. Suyuan hoped that a person would take care of the twins and eventually return them to their family and would reunite with them someday.

Canning Woo revealed to her daughter Jing-Mei Woo that her two half twin sisters were Chwun Hwa (‘Spring Flower) and Chwun Yu (Spring Rain). Mei’s name Jing shares a connection with her twin half-sisters as it means pure essence or excellent while Mei means little sister. Jing-Mei realized that her mother through her Suyuan had stronger connections with her Chinese roots and her mother’s past than Jing-Mei ever thought.

As Jing-Mei prepared to meet her stepsisters, she was worried they would blame her for Suyuan, their mother’s death or that she did not love or appreciate her more than she should. However, when Jing-Mei meets her half-sisters, she felt a sense of kinship and recognition, and immediately her fears faded away, and she became at ease with her sisters (Igeleke, Ebony, et al.).

At that moment, the sisters embraced each other and reunited despite their past. Jing-Mei was joyful at the reunion and that her half-sisters were not bitter with her.  Jing-Mei took a picture with her sisters and realized how they resembled their mother. Indeed, the pair of a ticket was a symbol of a journey of two people back to their motherland that would result in a family reunion (Igeleke, Ebony, et al.).


Jing-Mei “June” Woo, a young Chinese American woman recalls her mother’s sadness for living her twin daughters in 1949 when they both left China, the memory that follows June’s mother’s death. June has used her mother’s regret as strength to overcome the challenges in America (Tan, Amy). Generational differences cause June and her mother to disagree bitterly over her mother’s expectations and what June wanted, a scene that indicates a common struggle for individual differences and preferences between a daughter and her mother in a foreign country.

The action of both Jing-Mei “June” and her mother Suyuan highlights cultural differences between a Chinese immigrant and her Asian-American daughter in America. The discordant sound of June’s piano symbolizes the Chinese and American cultural differences and conflicts that occur throughout the short story.

Suyuan wants her daughter Jing-Mei Woo to be a prodigy child in America, and she envisions her living through her daughter. Suyuan holds the American view that anybody can achieve any goal they want; Suyuan begins coaching her daughter to become a Shirley Temple Chinese girl. Jing-Mei Woo acknowledges her mother’s dreams of her becoming perfect (Cahill, Susan, and Julia Alvarez).

Suyuan and her daughter work as household cleaners as an extra income source. Soon, the mother and her daughter start to search through the American latest magazines such as Readers’ Digest and Good Housekeeping for stories regarding child porgies (Cahill, Susan, and Julia Alvarez). Each evening, Suyuan tirelessly tests her daughter’s intellectual capability such as her daughter’s general knowledge and multiplication of large numbers off-head.

Unfortunately, Jing-Mei “June” becomes resentful when she realizes she is a disappointment as she cannot live up to her mother’s high expectations and that is when their conflict began (Cahill, Susan, and Julia Alvarez). June’s self-discovery makes her resolve to follow her dream without trying to please her mother. Despite June’s mother planning for her to attend an old and deaf Mr. Chong’s piano lessons in exchange for weekly cleanings.

Sycuan’s pride in her daughter makes her invite her Joy Luck Club friends to attend June’s talent show to display her talent. However, June was not prepared well for the performance and fails the recital, disappointing her parent and friends. Mr. Chong, though deaf is the only person who applauded her unsatisfactory performance as June reads the last piece of Robert Schumann “Pleading Child.”

Jing-Mei “June” Woo thought that following her poor performance; her mother would let go of her dream for her daughter to become a pianist. Surprising, Suyuan reminded her it was time for her piano practice while was watching television. Jing-Mei “June” Woo, in anger, tells her mother that she will never be the daughter she wants or the genius she wants her to be (Bloom, Harold). In response, Suyuan tells her daughter that there are only two types of daughters.

The first type is those who obey their parents and the second type are those who disobey their parents and those who follow their minds and do according to their own will. Wholly angered, Jing-Mei “June” Woo tells her mother how she wished she would die, just like her twin sisters. Suyuan had left her twin daughters to die in China while fleeing from war in China which made her an immigrant in America. Jing-Mei “June” Woo’s comment hurts her mother, Suyuan who was doing all she could for her daughter’s success (Xijun, Lu).

Jing-Mei “June” Woo remembers their encounter painfully and sees it as an unresolved conflict that has continued affecting her even when she is an adult. That was the moment Jing-Mei “June” Woo realized that her mother had given up on trying hard seeing her only daughter successful in America. Suyuan gave her daughter the piano on her thirtieth birthday before she died. Jing-Mei “June” Woo accepted the gift as a sign of peace to resolve their past intergenerational conflict.

Person response

Amy based her The Joy Luck Club novel on her own experiences and choosing to center her book on friendship and the lives of four Chinese women playing mahjong together. The Joy Luck Club tends to have a unifying plot as observed in the “A Pair of Ticket.” The last chapter of the book, she organized her work into series of standalone stories also called vignettes.

The stories illustrate crucial aspects of each of her characters’ unique personalities and relationships. Examples of such books include Two Kinds and The Pair of Tickets. Amy uses different themes to express her ideas in the Joy Luck Club which included generational differences as well as how to handle relationships.

In Two Kinds, Amy highlights the main differences and conflicts that arise due to generational differences in personality. However, an essential aspect that Amy puts across is a mother’s love, determination, and sacrifice to enable their children to succeed even in a foreign land. Worth noting is also the painful sacrifices a mother makes for the sake of their children (Igeleke, Ebony, et al.).

In China when the Japanese invade China in 1940’s, people are forced to escape the war-torn China (Xijun, Lu). On her escape, Suyuan takes her two twin daughters and valuables. Suyuan trekked for miles until she could not go any further with the twin daughters. As a mother, Suyuan makes the hardest decision to leave her daughters by the roadside. A person may see her acts as cruel and unjust.

The truth, however, is that she made the right the decision. Suyuan was suffering from dysentery, and she was tired. She left her daughters along the road where people would quickly find them other than in a confined place or bushes. As people flee from a war zone, the best route of escape is the road, and so Suyuan made a wise decision to leave her children where it was easy to find them (Xijun, Lu). Additionally, she sacrifices all the money she had left her valuables and writes a note with her family’s details, an indication of her hope that her children would survive and that one day they shall meet again.

Decades later, even after her passing on, the twin daughters wrote to Jing-Mei when they learned of their mother’s death. Eventually, in Amy’s last chapter of The Joy Luck Club book, the Pair of Tickets, Cannings and Jing-Mei set out to visit their families and relatives in China and finally meet her two half-sisters. The family reunites, fulfilling their mother’s dream and hope of family reunion (Tan, Amy).

Amy, in her Two Kinds story, reveals a mother’s determination for her daughter’s success. Suyuan who had had a hard past life in China, losing her first army officer husband and leaving her twin daughters behind, believes that with her work and determination, her daughter Jing-Mei could achieve any dream in America (Tan, Amy).  Despite her challenges, Amy points out how high Suyuan remains to support Jing-Mei to achieve the American Dream and her belief that any person in the United States can succeed.

Suyuan takes Jing-Mei through different activities to try and identify her daughter’s talents. Though Jing failed her failed her piano recital performance, Amy pointed out that Suyuan did not give up on her daughter. As a mother, Suyuan kept motivating and supporting her daughter as she hoped she would one day succeed (Tan, Amy).

At the point of her death, Suyuan gave her daughter Jing-Mei the piano in which she had kept for her daughter for many years as a birthday present, telling her daughter that she was the only one who could play the piano. The gift was an epitome of a mother’s genuine love for her daughter and also as a symbol of peace between a mother and a daughter to solve their past conflicts due to their general differences (Igeleke, Ebony, et al.).



Amy’s The Joy Luck Club book, in Two Kinds and The Pair of Ticket indicates how a person’s reflection on their past highlights a person’s knowledge and understanding of one’s relationships. As a child, Jing-Mei thought her mother Suyuan was pressurizing and setting unrealistic expectations for her as well as being inhumane for leaving her half twin sister to die in China. Thirty years later after the death of her mother, Amy points out that Jing-Mei as an adult reflects back and realizes that her mother had good intentions as she wanted her daughter to succeed.

In her last chapter of the book in a pair of Tickets, Amy highlights that Jing-Mei eventually identifies her true identity, reunites with her twin half-sisters and finds her real character, learns the history and appreciates her late mother (“Chinese Americans: The History And Culture Of A People”). Indeed, a mother always has good intentions for their children and will still want them to succeed.

‘Two Kinds,’ and other stories from The Joy Luck Club, Amy shows how reflecting on one’s past helps them understand their relationships. As an adult, Jing-Mei understands her mother’s good intentions to make her succeed. However, Amy pointed out that as a child that seemed like a disappointment, pressure and unrealistic expectations.

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