The Joy Luck Club Chapter 7, Rose Hsu Jordan, Half and Half
Rose Hsu Jordan remembers that her mother An-mei used to be religious, but lost her faith long ago. She uses her bible as a support for her kitchen table leg. Today, Rose watches her mother clean, wondering how she will tell her that she and her husband, Ted Jordan, are getting divorced. She knows that her mother will tell her that whatever is wrong can be fixed, and that her mother will not believe anything else. Rose thinks about her first years with Ted: he is white, and both their mothers didn't approve. This brought them closer together. He "rescued" her whenever she was in danger, and gradually he came to make all the decisions in their relationship. But after he was sued for a mistake in his surgery practice, he tried to get Rose to make more decisions. Then one day, after seventeen years of marriage, he asked for a divorce because she could never make up her mind about anything. Rose now has no idea what to do.
Rose remembers when her view of God changed. "I discovered that maybe it was fate all along, that faith was just an illusion that somehow you're in control." Chapter 7, pg. 121 The day she realized this was also the day her mother lost her faith. Years ago, the family--Rose, her father, her mother, her two sisters and her brothers Mark, Matthew, Luke and Bing--went to the beach. Rose, who was fourteen, was required to watch Bing, who was four years old. She realized even then that she was very similar to her mother: she worried about the same things, but tried to pretend that she didn't worry, and also felt that she was lucky. She remembers that her mother showed her a book about all the different evils that could befall a young child. An-mei worried constantly about all of them. And yet, the whole family felt like they had God on their side. But Bing began to walk on a high ledge, toward his father who was fishing. Suddenly everything happened at once: Luke and Mark started a fight, An-mei yelled at Rose to stop the fight, her father caught a fish, and Bing fell into the deep water. Rose didn't know what to do. And then they all began desperately searching for Bing. They stayed at the beach for hours, and that evening, An-mei, who had never learned to swim, went out in the water to find him. She had faith that she would be able to swim just this once. She swam until the police finally pulled her out of the water. Finally, the family went home.
That night, Rose expected to be punished, but everyone was blaming themselves. An-mei informed Rose that they were going the next morning to find Bing, and that morning, An-mei seemed to have learned to drive over night. At the beach, she prayed to God, demanding that their faith be rewarded by the return of Bing. Her faith was so strong that she saw him over and over, in seaweed, in strangers walking far away, and then she threw a life preserver into the water. She threw it over and over again until it was torn apart, and then she gave up. "My mother had a look on her face that I'll never forget. It was one of complete despair and horror, for losing Bing, for being so foolish as to think she could use faith to change fate." Chapter 7, pg. 130 Rose knows that she never expected to find Bing, and never expected to save her marriage. She feels that she let both those bad things happen, even though she somehow knew they were going to. She thinks her mother still has faith, though: she knows An-mei sees the bible. Rose picks the bible up and flips to the "deaths" section. An-mei has written "Bing Hsu" in erasable pencil.