The Joy Luck Club Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. This parable is loaded with symbolism. Since the old woman paid a "foolish sum" for the swan, and then loses it, what might this symbolize?

The swan is a coveted, beautiful bird whose only function is to look beautiful. Perhaps the meaning is that we sometimes pay a great price for a thing of beauty, only to find it gone in an instant, leaving us with only a memory of the beauty.

2. The woman wishes for a daughter just like herself, but there are some caveats. Discuss the things she does not want for her daughter.

She wants her daughter to have an ideal life, with a respectful husband, good self-esteem, no sorrow and no hunger. Her desire to have a daughter just like herself means that she hopes her Chinese values and traditions will be born and sustained in her daughter, but that she will not suffer in the way that the woman has suffered.

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