Commentary on “the red candle” (the Joy Luck Club)
Siir Tecirlioglu 11A 28 September 2010 Commentary on “The Red Candle” A story of escaping your misery-promised fate that can also be called “the story of Lindo Jung.” It isthe third chapter in Amy Tan’s, “The Joy Luck Club.” The destiny of two year old Lindo was alreadydecided; she was to marry Tyan-yu when they were old enough. This was a promise that had no return.Although, with the use of Chinese traditions, ironically, Lindo manages to deceive “fate” and thedecision-makers of her life. A 40—line section in the beginning of the chapter (page 50-52) foreshadowsthe entire story by including hints on the major themes such as the Chinese traditions, and importance ofpromises and by referncing the future events in the story. Great detail on the Chinese culture of marriage, and spiritual beliefs is summarized in the chosensection. The most significant element in the Chinese culture is the belief in matchmakers who are peoplethat the Chinese society believed to know everything related to fate. The matchmaker plays the biggestrole in carrying out the entire story, becuase she directs how people should act and what they should do.There is irony, however, when the matchmaker’s servant lights the candle which was blown out byLindo—a secret that only Lindo and the servant will know seperatly. Thus, the conclusion from this eventis that matchmakers just make up things and the parochial society follows their word. Another exampleof how both marriage and spiritual beliefs are important in Chinese society is the fact of lying to newergenerations to carry on the old traditions. “We were told stories of sons who were so influenced by badwives that they threw their old crying parents into the street” (page 51)—a hyperbolic sentence wherethe story is so exaggrated that it sounds unrealistic. There is a paradox in this situation. The mothers-in-law are the ones who choose their brides and they have cruel actions towards them. The paradox is,“Weren’t these mothers brides chosen by their husbands’ mothers?” They went through the exact samemisery. Why is the tradition still going on with great insist if there is enough experience on it tounderstand its effects on a woman’s freedom? Therefore, a foreshadow arises from this paradox. Theidea gives the reader hints on the future actions of Lindo; she will be the first one to break this traditionmysteriously. Promises have the most effect in the Chinese society—even more than the importance of oldtraditions and matchmakers. There is no way a promise can be broken, becuase it will bring shame to thefamily. Shame must be avoided in the Chinese life. Once a promise is made, it has to be followed nomatter what the consequence is. “But even if I had known I was getting such a bad husband, I had nochoice, now or later.”(page 51). In Lindo’s mind, it causes an internal conflict becuase she keeps goingback and forth between keeping the promise and being obedient or not keeping it an bringing shame toher family. Therefore, the gloomy and insoluble atmospehere of the story is foreshadowed. In addition,the actions of Lindo are ironic to this concept of promises. In the 40-line section, the reader understandthat Lindo wants to escape her fate but the promise prevents her in doing this. A decision is not madeyet. Later in the story, however, she puts in her head the aim of canceling this unhappy marriage. Thus,the 40-line section gives us clues on the two possible actions Lindo might be taking later in that samechapter.
The word “foreshadowing” is the key concept of this 40-line section chosen, becuase it sums up orgives clues on every event that will be happening throughout the chapter. In other words, fuure eventsare explained. Through the actions between the wife and the husband, the reader sees how littleimportance love has in a marriage. Marriage is based on the matchmaker’s feelings on those two peopleand on the choice of the mother-in-law. “...swallow me down in one piece...” (page 51). The reader alsosees that the mother-in-law will be having great control on Lindo’s freedom. Another hint given onfuture events in this section is the description of the husband chracter. “So they wacthed him carefully,made all his decisions, and he becmae very spoiled.” (page 51). The husband character will prove hismotive though his actions towards Lindo, such as being selfish enough to make a woman sleep on a sofawhile he will be sleeping on the comfortable bed. Finally, the biggest foreshafow is, “...see my futureintentions.” (page 51). These words prove that most of this 40-line section is based on foreshadowing—itis jsut an introduction to the upcoming events in the chapter. To sum up, the 40-line section chosen is sufficient to foreshadow the entire story that is based onChinese traditions, and importance of promises in China. The major conflicts of the story are taken intoaccount and explained briefly in this little section. Irony and paradox are the major literary elements thatcreate the permanent atmosphere of the “misery-promised” story.