Joan And Lena Character Analysis

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Joan and Lena: Similarities Across Ethnic Backgrounds The way an individual identifies themselves is very important for their overall well-being and self-esteem. Life experiences have a major impact on an individual’s sense of identity. These life experiences can either hurt or help their identity, and as a result, shape the person they become. Even though these characters are from different ethnic backgrounds, Lena St. Clair and Joan Foster share similar life experiences: both women use food as a way to control something in their life, and both find themselves in a marriage focused on practicality rather than love. In Lady Oracle, author Margaret Atwood tells the story of Joan Foster, a romance novelist writing under a pseudonym with a complicated present and an even more complicated past. Growing up, Joan had a strained relationship with her mother. Her mother had named her after the supermodel Joan Crawford: someone who was thin, beautiful, and well-respected. Joan Foster, however, was not thin or beautiful by her mother’s standards, and that was one of the things “for which my mother never quite forgave me” (28). …show more content…
Clair, a character from Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, uses food as a way to control her life and destiny as well. Lena is the daughter of a Chinese immigrant: her mother, Ying-ying, was born and raised in China and married an American man. Lena’s role in the household is that of a translator and peace-keeper for her parents. Like Joan, Lena also lied: not to her spouse, but to her mother. Her mother could not speak fluent English, so Lena was able to embellish stories or tell her mother anything she wanted in order to get what she wanted. For example, Lena once told her mother that Chinese people “were not allowed” to shop at a certain store because her mother had embarrassed her there (152). Lena loved her mother and regarded her fondly, but was often embarrassed of her Chinese ways in their American

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