The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan
Contributed by Vernita Mires
Discussion Questions
  1. When and why and by whom was the first Joy Luck Club formed? Compare and contrast it to the second Joy Luck Club. 
  2. What is the significance of the parable at the beginning of each section?
  3. Which one character seems to be the main protagonist of the novel and why? 
  4. What is her antagonist? Explain if she overcomes her antagonist. 
  5. On a larger scale, what is the protagonist of the novel? What is the antagonist? 
  6. Suyuan dies at the beginning of the book, and during the novel, Jing-Mei takes her place in several ways. Explain the ways in which she serves as her mother’s replacement. 
  7. Explain how the novel is autobiographical. 
  8. Compare Rose and Lena as examples of women who suffer from their own weakness of character. How can they learn from their mothers’ stories? Do they? 
  9. Contrast Jing-Mei to Rose, Lena, and Waverly. 
  10. Explain how Jing-Mei’s story forms the structural arc of the novel. 
  11. What specific things does each daughter learn about her mother during the course of the novel? 
  12. Explain the sufferings of each of the mothers in China. 
  13. Waverly Jong sometimes comes across as unkind and/or cruel. Give examples and explain why you think she behaves in such a way. 
  14. Who do you think is the most likeable mother in the novel, and why? 
  15. Who do you think is the most likeable daughter and why? 
  16. Discuss the symbolism of chess in Waverly Jong’s stories. 
  17. Discuss the symbolism of the garden in Rose’s stories. 
  18. Discuss the symbolism of jade in Jing-Mei’s stories. 
  19. Discuss the symbolism of architecture in Lena’s stories. 
  20. Explain how The Joy Luck Club is a novel of culture, identity, and family. 
  21. What are the key themes of the novel and how are they developed? 
  22. Why does the novel end in comedy? 
  23. Explain the use of flashback in the novel, giving at least four examples. 
  24. How is this book of separate stores unified into a whole?
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