in "A Pair of Tickets"
by Betty Dailly
[Note: use the back key to return to this essay.]
In Amy Tan's
"A Pair of Tickets" (the last chapter of The
Joy Luck Club), the understanding of the importance of names
is the key to truly apprehend a sacred relationship between mother ("Suyuen")
and daughters (June or "Jing-Mei", "Chwun
Yu" and "Chwun Hwa").
As we read along the story and find out the reason why June's mother,
Suyuen, had to abandon her twin daughters from her first marriage fleeing
Kweilin in China, we realize June's and the twin- daughters' names are
linked directly to Suyuen's ("long-cherished wish"). June and readers
all start to know how much Suyuen longed to reunite the family. All
of these tie together to give us a better understanding of how important
it is for June to accomplish her mission for her passed away mother,
as to fulfill her long-cherished wish--the only hope she had all lived
for, and thence finally reveals a true loving relationship between mother
Born and raised in America, it never occurred to June, Suyuen's Chinese-American
daughter, to ask about the origin and meaning of her Chinese name, "Jing-Mei".
It is only normal for her to be called "June" rather than "Jing-Mei"
or "Jandale" in her daily life in the United States. External factors
such as language, school education, social life, lifestyle, and the
environment where she lives in all contribute to her "American" way
of thinking rather than the "Chinese" way. June is conscious of being
"American" rather than being "Chinese" or "Chinese American". Not finding
herself a bit associated with China, she simply denied the fact that
she had any Chinese whatsoever below her skin (par. 2). Psychologically,
since she was small, she repressed herself from "thinking" and "feeling"
Chinese even she knew she was born Chinese. She did not know what it
meant when her mother said "It's in your blood, waiting to be let go."
(par. 3). When June was young, she particularly found her mother's "telltale
Chinese behaviors" embarrassing (par. 4). She had always found herself
feeling extremely uneasy to accept the idea of being a Chinese. And
not until she turned thirty-six years old (after her mother had just
passed away), and she was physically in China for the first time to
meet her twin sisters could she realize what it meant to be Chinese
Her mother's death, which June's father believed the idea that the
twin daughters were dead had killed her, is a "trigger" for June to
discover more about her mother and her "long-cherished" wish to reunite
with her long lost twin-daughters in China. Not until June's father
had the conversation with his aunt, "Aiyi", telling his wife's story
fleeing Kweilin in China and explaining the meanings of her twin daughters'
name whom Suyuen had to abandon did June finally understand her mother's
good intention of naming her "Jing-Mei'. June was not interested in
knowing the meanings of her own Chinese name and her mother's before
her mother passed away; and now she realizes how much the name "Jing-Mei"
means to her mother, and how it relates to her half-twin sisters in
China and to her family as a whole. Understanding the meaning of her
mother and twin sisters' names, June discovered that she had always
been the only daughter whom her mother transferred all her hope to,
and she would be the one to bring back her mother's long-lost hope.
Extending Suyuen's (the mother's) will and fulfilling her dream, her
spirit can finally be let go; she will always live among her daughters
whose names she had heartfully chosen, and now, they all truly know
what kind of mother she has always been.