Essay Sample: Image of Women in the Selected Stories of Lu Xun and in the Joy Luck Club

Published: 2022-09-12
Essay Sample: Image of Women in the Selected Stories of Lu Xun and in the Joy Luck Club
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Women Amy Tan Family drama
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2046 words
18 min read

Image of Women in the Selected Stories of Lu Xun

The women in the selected stories of Lu Xun have been portrayed in a way that makes them look inferior to the male population. The women in the stories are very submissive, to a point where the mere act of sharing their opinion with others is very difficult. The women are also made to exist in a place filled with restrictions on what they can do, where, with who and when. The different stories provide a different outlook on how the women Amy Tan's novel depicts women as restricted individuals, who have to deal with many changes that are not expected in their own culture (Lu 2009). The mothers in the book are very submissive; though show an attempt at breaking free from their culture. Though the daughters are expected to be more liberal, they still do not have the necessary freedom of speech accorded to women in other places such as in the American culture.

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Lu Xun shows that the women in the stories are more the more feeble characters in society, going to the extent of comparing them to beggars. For instance, in the story "The New Year's Sacrifice" the author describes a woman who is very thin, who is considered a beggar due to the physical state that she encounters. The author goes on to compare her to a sculpture carved out of wood, as a way of showing that she is not in a healthy state (Hsun, Lu and Jin 2003, p. 127). The scenario further proves that the women in these stories are very feeble. The women are not provided with the right type of respect as seen when the Buddhist nun has to live with the numerous insults hurled her way, most coming from men. Seeing as the rest of the characters in the stories do not respect the religious woman, the main concept that is spread is that men do not respect the opinions of the women in their culture (Hsun, Lu, and Jin 2003, p. 128). This particular act shows the level of male dominance in the era depicted in the story.

According to the different stories, the level of respect a woman gets is directly proportional to the social standing that the woman has. The outcome is mainly seen where the men holding higher positions in society treat women with respect, as opposed to men in the lower social standing who hurl insults and taunts at women as they feel the women are inferior to them. In China, the men gain automatic respect from their peers and others in the society due to their gender. The women require a man to help them gain respect, such as the case of Amah Wu, who relied on her male employer to help her (Lu, 2009, p. 78). The result shows that women in this era are majorly found in the shadow of the men who are around them.

The women in this era are more of tokens for the men. They are expected to come and go at the will of their men and act as tokens that increase in value over time. Men marry the women to increase their standing in society, thus by effectively reducing the women to being judged based on whether or not they are married. A married woman in this era has a higher standing than one who is single as the married one has an affiliation attached to her male partner (Lu, 2009, p. 82). The reason why the woman in "The New Year's Sacrifice" ends up being married the second time is that this effectively raises her standing in society and changes the image that the rest of society has of her as a beggar.

The women do not have the opportunity to voice their opinions. All of their opinions and decisions are made by the male figures in their life. In the story "Divorce" the woman is not able to take part in her own divorce negotiations. Her father and her father in law are the main participants in the discussions, yet the outcome only directly impacts the lives of the woman. This shows that the women in this era are very passive. They do not take an active role in the decisions that affect their lives, leaving all of this to be addressed by the men who speak for them. The men expect the women to do as they are told, as evidenced by Ai-Ku being told her father is more sensible in taking the decision of having her carried away as she cannot seem to understand the implications of her actions (Xu, 1949, p. 12) Though she is the only female character in this particular story, the author attempts to give her a voice, to attempt a change in the general image that people have about women. However, this only goes to show how vulnerable a woman is in this society. The story of divorce attempts to put the Communist party's ideologies into practice, where they insist on women being provided with equality. The Communist party hopes to have the women and men being equals in society, thus all their opinions being considered valid.

The story of "Divorce" is one that is slightly more different from the rest of the stories by Lu Xun since the woman in this story is not one to take the decisions of others on her life lightly. She actively fights for her rights, letting the rest of the society know that she is not one to be quiet about her opinion. Fighting the decision of the Seventh Master can be seen as a metaphorical fight against the oppression and societal mindset that women are inferior to men in society. Though she is a lone wolf fighting for the rights of the general female population, she ends up accepting the decision of the Seventh Master (Xu, 1949, p. 223). One could assume that women may keep on fighting for their rights, but the general idea is that nothing much will change in how society perceives the woman.

While considering this, one may also want to see the opinion that other women have on other women. As per Lu Xun's selected stories, the women treat each other with respect and equality. The judgment they have about other women is based on characteristics like religion, and not on matters such as marriage. It is therefore clear that women do not harbor the same type of opinions that the men have about women. The author focuses on a masculine point of view given that the stories were written during a time when Communism was a new practice taking flight after the abolition of Imperial China (Xu, 1949, p. 15). The situation explains why the women in the selected stories are oppressed and lack a voice to express their opinions.

Women in the Joy Luck Club

The character of women in the Joy Luck Club is far different from what Lu Xun shows. The women in Amy Tan's book are more advanced and modern. The book portrays how women are different and exhibit more liberal-mind. They are encouraged to share their opinions, which shows why they are more developed than those in China. For instance, Lena is among the most developed female characters, as she attempts to share the household expenses with her husband. The sharing is expected to be equal, though Lena's husband feels the division is not necessarily equal. The scenario provides what is commonly known as new age thinking where the women and men are equal in all ways (Hooper, p. 179). The women who are oppressed are very few, such as Wu Tsing who feels she is being oppressed by her husband who only turns to her when he cannot access another.

Amy Tan focuses her stories on both America and China. The women in America have a very different life from those in China. Those in America such as Lena have the opportunity to share their opinions and thoughts and are considered equals to the men they interact with while those in China are considered more like trophies. They do not have the chance to openly express their opinions since they live in an Era where men have a higher societal standing (Hooper, p. 180). The daughters in Tan's stories have a much easier time causing a change in their environment as their mothers have already set a good precedence.

The women in Tan's stories are more modernized since there is still a strong presence of male domination in society than females. Ying-Ying had to change her name to a more western oriented name as this did not pose difficulties in pronunciation to the rest of the people. Such factor shows that there is also a high presence of cultural domination which favors the males in society. Ying-Ying had to conform to what her husband's culture dictated, instead of keeping her name which would have been a major step towards female empowerment. The women in this book are more liberal and seek help from each other instead of putting each other down (Tan, 1989, p. 107). When Rose is going through a divorce, she seeks advice from the women around her, thus showing she values the opinion of women around her.

On reading the stories, one can see a common theme that Amy tries to portray. The outcome is how difficult it is for the women and their daughters to be accepted in the new homes they have. As they are originally from China, the characters have a very hard time growing into the new location, and therefore have to undergo a lot of assimilation such as Ying-Ying having to change her name to a more western one (Tan 1989, p. 99). The culture of the women back home is very oppressive, but the women still get oppressed in the new homes that they find in America.

Jing-Mei Woo started the Joy Luck Club while they were still in China, in an attempt to have easier communication between the members and their mothers. The group was aimed at promoting feminism and upholding the women's rights as they were not taken seriously back in China. Such factor indicates that the women in Tan's stories are innovative as they sought out help from their peers on how to make life easier for each other. Once the women moved to America, Jing-Mei found it more difficult to have the club functioning since she did not particularly agree with her mother, and her mother had happened to pass away (Heung, 2000 p.12). The author shows how the two women disagreed regarding opinions, making it more difficult to have any change brought by through the group.

Women are also seen as mere objects that are meant to fulfill the needs of the men in the stories by Amy Tan. Lindo is a character who has her life already set out by the family. She is betrothed at the age of two and begins receiving strange treatment from her family due to her betrothal. Her mother sees her as a part of her husband's family, thus no longer a part of her own family. Once married, her mother in law constantly asks for children for her son, showing that the women in this society are mere tools meant to fulfill the needs of their husbands (Heung 2000). Most of the badgering she receives is from a fellow woman, an act that would not be expected since the other woman is expected to help promote feminism.

The women in these stories exist in an environment where they have no power of their own. Jing-Mei had to do as her mother wanted, which is the reason she ended up in America. Though the mother may seem cold and unchanging, her headstrong nature is the sole reason why Jing-Mei made it to America safely, where she can attempt to live a more comfortable life. Lindo is also married off at a very young age, showing that the women in this society have no say in what goes on in their lives (Heung 2000). She was married off and expected to fulfill her obligations as a wife. Though this is not what she wanted, she has had to blurry her wants and fit into the role that society has designed for her as a wife and mother.

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