Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 5 May 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



  • We seek your support to meet the expenses relating to the formatting of articles and books, maintaining and running the journal through hosting, correrspondences, etc.Please write to the Editor in his e-mail address to find out how you can support this journal.
  • Also please use the AMAZON link to buy your books. Even the smallest contribution will go a long way in supporting this journal. Thank you. Thirumalai, Editor.

In Association with




  • E-mail your articles and book-length reports in Microsoft Word to
  • Contributors from South Asia may send their articles to
    B. Mallikarjun,
    Central Institute of Indian Languages,
    Mysore 570006, India
    or e-mail to
  • Your articles and booklength reports should be written following the APA, MLA, LSA, or IJDL Stylesheet.
  • The Editorial Board has the right to accept, reject, or suggest modifications to the articles submitted for publication, and to make suitable stylistic adjustments. High quality, academic integrity, ethics and morals are expected from the authors and discussants.

Copyright © 2009
M. S. Thirumalai


Women as Victors of the Social Milieu in
Amy Tan's China

Sushil Mary Mathews, Ph.D.

Relationships between the Artist and the Society

Sociological criticism is based on the conviction that a work of art is related to the society in which it is created and that the investigation of this relationship will facilitate a better understanding and deepen the readers' aesthetic response to the work. The sociological approach to literature explores the relationships between the artist and the society and examines it in the cultural, economic and political contexts in which it was written or received.

This paper is an intensive study of the novels of Tan, from a sociological approach and also investigates the adaptation techniques which enable the women in the novels to face life in a staunchly patriarchal society.

Embedded in the Chinese Tradition and Culture

The narrative of Tan's novels is deeply embedded in the Chinese tradition and culture. China, from the early sixteenth century to the recent past, is portrayed in the novels of Tan with myriad experiences of the Chinese. The social milieu pictured in the novels and how the women characters transact in this social milieu and emerge victors is elaborated. The application of historical materialism to literary studies is examined and a few other factors that are also considered are the world events, especially wars, the primitive societies, women, marriage, suicide, hunger, religion, sex, education, death, belief in evil spirits, the different society groups and ethics as portrayed in the novels. The sociological study will enable a deeper understanding of the strategic role of the mother in equipping her daughter encounter society and life.

World Events as the Background

The novels of Tan have in its background some world events and a few that were of national interest. Orville Schell's review "Your Mother is in Your Bones" emphasises that the millions of Chinese who were part of the diaspora of World War II, and the fighting that resulted in the triumph of the Communists were subsequently cut off from the mainland and were left to fend for themselves culturally. The Japanese invaded China in 1949 and this war is cited in almost all the works of Tan, as it had a lasting influence on the lives of the people and it had also altered their attitudes to life.

Tan's novels portray the First Sino-Japanese war that was fought between 1894 and 1895. The second war that followed, she pictures, was more destructive and sporadic fighting, lasted on and off throughout the thirties, but large-scale fighting did not begin again until 1937, when Japanese units were attacked at the Marco Polo Bridge outside Peking. In December 1937 Japanese Army units were on the outskirts of the Nationalist capital, Nanking. As many as three lakh Chinese soldiers and civilians were executed, and rape, theft, and abuse were rampant. The Kuomintang had officers who tried to lead the people and the general public hearkened to their words. Suyuan Woo, the protagonist in Tan's, The Joy Luck Club, was the wife of a Kuomintang officer and she received news that the Japanese were close at hand, and that she should escape. She carried all that she held dear to her life, on the way she had to slowly prioritise and leave behind things till she felt she had no strength to go on. When she was certain of her death, she decided to abandon her two daughters by the wayside hoping that someone would take them home. She left money and the address at which the babies were to be returned once the war was over.

New Ideas of History and Identity

Catherine Romagnolo in her "Narrative Beginnings in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club: A Feminist Study" says, "Like Suyuan, Tan's novel attempts to snip the threads that hold these tightly knitted structures together, unraveling them as it constructs new ideas of history and identity which are at once subjective, personal, and polymorphous"(89). At one point Tan makes a comment that if it had not been for the war with Japan, the people of China would have all been fighting among themselves.

At the time of war, Tan says in her novel, the people who lived in and around Kweilin used to find solace and escape to the mountains there: "We were a city of leftovers mixed together. If it hadn't been for the Japanese, there would have been plenty of reason for fighting to break out among these different people. Can you see it? Shanghai people with north-water peasants, bankers with barbers, rickshaw pullers with Burma refugees. Everybody looked down on someone else. It didn't matter that everybody shared the same sidewalk to spit on and suffered the same fast-moving diarrhea. We all had the same stink, but everybody complained someone else smelt the worst." (JLC 22)

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Interference of Mappila Dialect in the Standard Malayalam Language - with special reference to the writing performance of Primary School Children | Effect of Environmental Education to School Children Through Animation Based Educational Video | Women as Victors of the Social Milieu in Amy Tan's China | A Comparative Study of the Language Learning Strategies Used by the Students of Formal and Non-Formal Systems of Education in Pakistan | New Vistas in Comparative Studies | Comparative Analysis of MA English Results under Annual and Semester system: Quality Assurance in Pakistan | A Virtual Learning Environment in an ESL Classroom in a Technical University in India | When a School Becomes a Pool - What Can We Do to Make Language Learning Interesting to Yemeni Students | Does Number Affect English Pronunciation? | Shashi Tharoor: Transmuting Historical and Mythical Material into Literary Ideas | The Impact of Working Memory on Text Composition in Hearing Impaired Adults | A Study of the ELT Teachers' Perception of Teaching Language through Literature at the Higher Secondary School and Degree Levels in Pakistani Milieu | Some Aspects of Teaching-Learning English as a Second Language | Challenges Encountered by Teachers in Rural Areas and Strategies to Triumph Over | Variation of Voice Onset Time (VOT) in Kannada Language | A Comparative Study on the Efficacy of Two Different Clinical Language Intervention Procedures | Dilemma of Usage and Transmission - A Sociolinguistic Investigation of Dhundi-Pahari in Pakistan | Teaching Beyond the Regular Curriculum | Claustrophobia in Anita Desai's Cry, The Peacock - "From Defeat to Disaster" | Code Mixing and Code Switching in Tamil Proverbs | A Phonetic and Phonological Study of the Consonants of English and Arabic | HOME PAGE of May 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Sushil Mary Mathews, Ph.D.
Department of English
PSGR Krishnammal College for Women
Coimbatore -641004
Tamilnadu, India

  • Send your articles
    as an attachment
    to your e-mail to
  • Please ensure that your name, academic degrees, institutional affiliation and institutional address, and your e-mail address are all given in the first page of your article. Also include a declaration that your article or work submitted for publication in LANGUAGE IN INDIA is an original work by you and that you have duly acknolwedged the work or works of others you either cited or used in writing your articles, etc. Remember that by maintaining academic integrity we not only do the right thing but also help the growth, development and recognition of Indian scholarship.