The Conflicts Between the Cultures
In the low-context culture; most of the information must be in the passed on message so as to make up for what is missing both in the internal and external context. In addition, change is rapid and easy in a low-context culture due to the bonds between people being looser; thus action can be undertaken easily and can be altered or stopped after being started.
Chinese and American Culture
All the mothers in The Joy Luck Club expect their daughters who are Americanized to obey their elders and hence learn by obedience, by observation and by imitation as they used to do in China (to hold on their culture). Although their elders did not explain and simply because the mothers internalized values and knowledge in their culture, they seemed to suppose that knowledge is inborn and hence it is present in their daughters; it only has to be brought out or made active. The internalization is very psychologically whole and so much a part of the mothers' identities that they speak of it as physical. For instance, according to Am-mei, she sees in her mother her own true nature, what was beneath her skin and inside her bones. Also according to her, her connection to her mother or filial respect was very deep as it was in her daughter’s bones (Tan, par. 3).
However, in the nation of America, the warnings of the mothers, their instructions, and examples were not supported by the perspective of the American culture, and thus their daughters never used to understand. The daughters used to be offended by and misinterpreted their mothers' alien Chinese ways and beliefs. Their mothers were also experiencing a similar situation; they failed to understand why they did not have the kind of relationships with their daughters as that they had with their mothers in China. The Joy Luck mothers were so close to their own mothers that they considered themselves as continuations of their mothers as the stairs do (Kate 43).
In situations where one speaker was from a high-context culture and the other was from a low-context culture, the communication crisis that would arise can be seen in the conversations of June and Suyuen. An illustration is where June says that they, June and her mother, never really used to understand one another. They used to translate each other's meanings and she seemed to hear less than what was said, while her mother heard more. June used to take much of her time to look for meaning in what was stated and she never used to understand that her mother used to omit important information for the reason that the mother used to assume that her daughter knew it and thus she could infer to it. On the other hand, her mother used to look for meaning in what had not been stated and so used add to what had been stated explicitly and hence she could come up with meanings that surprised her daughter (Tan, par. 1).
The way that was commonly used in maintaining and instructing children in the traditional ways which the immigrants of China adopted was the traditional Chinese talk story. According to Linda Ching Sledge, the talk story had two major functions: it served to redefine an embattled immigrant culture through the provision of its members’ immediate, ceremonial access to the olden teachings; and it also retained the organization of Chinese oral wisdom like the proverbs, heroic biography, parables, formulaic description, casuistically dialogue. Through talking stories, the narrator expected the listener to grasp the point, which was often not stated, unlike to the low-context culture. Tan take up the Chinese talk story through the mothers' stories of warning to their daughters (Kate 43).
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