Saturday, June 20, 2009

Feathers from a Thousand li Away

There are not many books or movies which I will read or watch over and over again and "The Joy Luck Club" is but one of them.

I like the prologue which was beautifully written using simple yet meaningful English and epitomizes all about the stories in the entire book.

"The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum. This bird, boasted the market vendor, was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now look! - it is too beautiful to eat. Then the woman and the swan sailed across an ocean many thousands of li wide, stretching their necks toward America. On her journey she cooed to the swan: "In America I will have a daughter just like me. But over there nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband's belch. Over there nobody will look down on her, because I will make her speak only perfect American English. And over there she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow! She will know my meaning, because I will give her this swan - a creature that became more than what was hoped for." But when she arrived in the new country, the immigration officials pulled her swan away from her, leaving the woman fluttering her arms and with only one swan feather for a memory. And then she had to fill out so many forms she forgot why she had come and what she had left behind. Now the woman was old. And she had a daughter who grew up speaking only English and swallowing more Coca-Cola than sorrow. For a long time now the woman had wanted to give her daughter the single swan feather and tell her, "This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions." And she waited, year after year, for the day she could tell her daughter this in perfect American English."

1 comment:

  1. This reflects how much a mother hopes for her daughter/son. This is a book all children must read before they reach 20.
    Very powerful English writing by Amy Tan.