When I was in middle school I saw the television film adaptation of Amy Tan’s book The Joy Luck Club and fell in love. I even asked my parents to buy the movie for me as a Christmas present. Two years ago I had the opportunity to listen to Amy Tan deliver a lecture and received an autographed copy of her book. Amy Tan’s the Joy Luck Club is her first major novel which depicts the struggle between mothers and daughters, and more broadly, the struggle within the Chinese American community to maintain their cultural heritage in America. This struggle is typically a generational conflict but is also between Chinese who immigrate to America and those born in America.
The conflict between maintaining Chinese values or deferring to American values is encapsulated in Two Kinds when American born Jung Mei says to her mother, “I am not your slave. This isn’t China.” Jung Mei’s Chinese mother replies, “Only two kind of daughter. Obedient kind and one that follow own mind. Only one kind of daughter live in this house, obedient kind.” 
Jung Mei’s refusal to comply with her mother’s wishes to become an accomplished pianist would have been unheard of in China, where filial respect and achievement is woven into the fabric of society. Individual achievements are shared within your family and community and reflect their character as well your own. Therefore, self worth is dependent on pleasing your family and community, primarily through educational, monetary success and filial responsibility. In The English Professor Rusheng, who was born in China and teaches American English in America, is convinced that one spelling error will ruin his chances at receiving tenure, will disappoint the local Chinese community, ruin his social status and potentially his marriage. He considers changing job fields and to start from scratch . Rusheng is very aware of the Chinese cultural expectations of him and the criteria for American success in his field.
With each generation born in America and who never visit China, respect for Chinese culture seems to diminish. The priority of those who are born in America in author Hua Jin’s Children as Enemies is to assimilate into American society, rejecting the expectations of their immigrant grandparents. Qigan Xi and Hua Xi are young siblings who are often teased at school and wish to change their Chinese names to normal American names to fit in. Their grandfather angrily tries to explain the importance of their names which were chosen by fortune-tellers in traditional Chinese practice, to no avail . Assimilating into American life implies not only a danger to Chinese traditions, but can destroy family relationships and gender roles as well. The Xi grandparents arrived from China to live with their only son Gubin and his family, but quickly realize that this was a mistake. Gubin has become compliant to his wife and children in America, which seems to rob both Gubin of his manliness and parental authority and the grandparents of their wisdom and respect .
On the other hand, America provides opportunity for economic advancement and better living standards then those found in China. In Shame, Professor Meng becomes an illegal immigrant in New York, leaving his sick wife in China and his career as a Professor, in order to raise money and experience a new life as a dishwasher. He can never return to China . Jung Mei’s mother is also optimistic about American possibilities in the beginning, but learns that the success is hard to come-by . As these examples suggest Chinese migrants are expected to sacrifice aspects of their life in China, in return for an America life.
According to the readings, there are no easy solutions to the dilemma between maintaining Chinese values and achieving success in America. Without strong ties to China, this heritage is lost by degrees as migrants and Chinese Americans assimilate into American society. However, at the end of the Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan does provide hope of reconciliation as Jung Mei takes up her mother’s dreams and returns to China to reconnect with her lost family and discover her heritage. Through this journey she is finally able to be at once Chinese and American.
 Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” In Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. London: Penguin Books, 1989.
 Jin, Ha. “An English Professor.” In A Good Fall, by Ha Jin. Vintage International, 2009.
 Jin, Ha. “Children as Enemies.” In A Good Fall, by Ha Jin. Vintage International, 2009.
 Jin, Ha. “Shame.” In A Good Fall, by Ha Jin. Vintage International, 2009.
Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” In Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. London: Penguin Books, 1989.