Summary and Analysis
Part III: American Translation
A mother is horrified when she discovers that her married daughter has placed a mirrored armoire at the foot of the bed. She is certain that the mirror will deflect all happiness from her daughter's marriage, so she remedies the situation by giving her daughter a mirror to hang above the bed. This arrangement will reverse the bad luck and bring good "peach-blossom luck," the mother says. Such luck, she adds, will ensure a grandchild.
The clash between generations is highlighted in this section. The daughter is upscale and modern. She lives in a condo, not a home. It's an expensive place, boasting a "master suite." She buys elaborate, showy furniture and seems overly concerned with appearance. The mother, in contrast, is steeped in the traditions of the past. She feels that she goes to great lengths to ensure good fortune, for she realizes that fate is capricious and that possessions are not a bulwark against disaster. Unlike her daughter's shallow materialism, the mother wants something of lasting value: grandchildren. Here, again, we encounter the theme of heritage. When the daughter looks in the mirror, she sees herself, suggesting that her children will resemble her, which of course they probably will. This knowledge conveys the link between generations, the ties that bind the past to the present.
Price Club one of a series of enormous warehouse stores. These cavernous stores are stripped of amenities such as dressing rooms, music, fancy displays, and a multitude of salespeople. Sometimes one must belong to a union or other large organization to be a member. There is also a yearly membership fee. Since the stores are so stripped down, their prices tend to be far less than department stores. Like the "twice-used Macy's bag," Tan mentions the store to let the reader know that the mother is very concerned with getting her money's worth. Unlike the daughter, the mother is very thrifty.