During the Second World War, Suyuan lives in China while her husband at the time served as an officer in Chungking (Chongqing).
She starts the original Joy Luck Club with her three friends to cope with the war. There is little to eat, but they pretend it is a feast, and talk about their hopes for the future. On
the day of the Japanese invasion, Suyuan leaves her house with nothing but a bag of clothes, a bag of food, and her twin baby
During the long journey, Suyuan contracts such severe dysentery(痢疾)
that she feels certain she will die. Fearing that a dead mother would doom
;使失败； her babies'
chances of rescue, she
reluctantly and emotionally leaves her daughters under a tree, together with all her belongings, along with a note asking anyone who might find the babies to care for them and contact the father. Suyuan then departs, expecting to die. However, she is rescued by a truck and finds out her husband has died. She later remarries, comes to
America, forms a new Joy
Luck Club with three other Chinese female immigrants she met at church, and gives birth to another daughter. But her
abandonment of the twin girls haunts;纠缠； her
for the rest of her life. After many years, Suyuan learns that the twins were adopted, but dies of a brain aneurysm
before she can meet them. It is her American-born
daughter Jing-mei who fulfills her long-cherished wish of reuniting with her elder twin half-sisters. As Suyuan dies before the novel begins, her history is told by Jing-mei, based on her knowledge of her
mother's stories, and what the other members of the Joy Luck Club tell her. ; An-Mei Hsu
An-Mei is raised by her grandparents and other
relatives during her early years in Ningbo after her
widowed mother shocks the family by becoming a concubine to a
middle-aged wealthy man after her first husband's death. This becomes a source of conflict for the young An-Mei, as her
aunts and uncles deeply
resent her mother for such a dishonorable act. They try to convince An-Mei
that it is not fitting for her to live with her disgraced mother, who is now
forbidden to enter the family home. An-Mei's mother, however, still wishes to be part of her daughter's life. After An-Mei's grandmother dies, An-mei moves out to live with her mother in the home of her mother's new husband, Wu-Tsing.
An-Mei learns that her
mother was forced into being Wu-Tsing's
concubine through the manipulations of his Second Wife, the favorite. This woman arranged for An-Mei's mother, still in mourning for her original husband, to be raped by
Wu-Tsing. The stigma;耻
辱； left An-Mei's mother with no choice but to marry Wu-Tsing and
become his new but lowly
Fourth Wife. She later lost her baby son to Second Wife, who claimed the boy as her own child to ensure her place in the household. Second Wife also tried to win over An-mei upon her arrival in Wu-Tsing's mansion, giving her a necklace made of "pearls"
that her mother later revealed were actually glass beads;珠子； by
crushing one with her
teacup. An-Mei's mother re-knots the necklace to hide the missing bead, but now An-Mei knows the
truth about Second Wife's seeming generosity.
Wu-Tsing is a highly
superstitious man, and
Second Wife takes
advantage of this weakness by making false suicide attempts and threatening to haunt him as a ghost if he does not let her have her