In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan explores the different mother-daughter relationships between the characters, and even at a lower level, the relationships between friends, lovers, and even enemies. In this book, she presents the views and the stories of both sides, giving the reader and the characters, an understanding of the mentalities of both mother and daughter.
The first section is about the four mothers' childhoods in China, the period of time when their personalities were molded. This section, titled Feathers from a Thousand Li Away, describes the heritage of the mothers in China. Suyuan started the Joy Luck Club which was a group of Chinese women who came together to share their friendship and to play games. The real purpose was to support one another and to save their Chinese culture and heritage. When Suyuan dies, her daughter, Jing-Mei takes her place in the Joy Luck Club. Here, Jing-Mei is approached by some of the women in the group and given $1200 to travel to China to meet her mother's lost twin daughters. Because of Suyuan's efforts, the daughters have been located. They want Jing- Mei to go and meet them, because it would answer Suyuan's dream.
The next mother presented was An-Mei Hsu. She tells the Joy Luck Club of her mother's past, from being a fourth wife to severing part of her own flesh and putting it in a "soup" that she created to heal her mother. Lindo Jong's story was about leaving her husband that her parents had set her up with and finding a better life in America. Ying-Ying St. Clair is the last mother to relate the tale of her past. She was traumatized at a young age and since then, she never felt she was the same person. For many years, the mothers did not tell their daughters their stories until they were sure that they would listen, and by then, it is almost too late to make them understand their heritage that their mothers left behind, long ago, when they left China.