12 September 2018
Fiction Journal 2: “A Pair of Tickets”
In the story “A Pair of Tickets,” written by Amy Tan, a middle aged woman by the name of Jing-Mei, also known as June May, has trouble with her identification as a Chinese female. Throughout her childhood, she boldly disagreed that she had any Chinese culture in her. Then, when she is in her 30’s, Jing-Mei’s mother passes away, and a few months later, her father receives a letter from her twin half-sisters. When Jing-Mei hears that her sisters have survived and are alive, she and her father decide to take a trip overseas to meet their relatives and finally unite with them. This short story is focused on a woman and her struggle to acknowledge her true self.
Jing-Mei’s mother was an immigrant from China. In the very beginning of this short story, Jing explains how her mother tries to show her their family’s heritage. Jing, not caring of her heritage, tells of how being age fifteen she is sure she is no more Chinese than her friends, even though her mother kept telling her that being Chinese is not something that could be helped.
Later in the story, Jing’s passport shows her American name, June May, but she chooses to present herself as Jing-Mei, which is her native name. This is the first account of her accepting her Chinese family line. She has many false impressions during the story. Mostly about China, it’s culture, and the people that inhabit it. One sample was that she couldn’t believe that “Communist China” had deluxe hotels, which can be seen as American stereotyping. She also compared her height to the people around her, stating that she was a lot taller. She envisioned accustomed Chinese meals, but her relatives chose hamburgers and fries. Jing began to understand how American culture had built and constructed her thinking, and that she was wrong to think her family and friends would differ from her.
Many times, looking at experiences of our families’ heritage, is most necessary to understand who we might be. Going to China helped Jing recognize what her mother had told her, and accept her Chinese roots. As she obtains the knowledge about her family’s history and understands her mother’s life and the sacrifices she had made, Jing’s mentality changes. To become Chinese was not a real thing. She had been Chinese, and it could not be helped. Jing-Mei’s adventure wasn’t to become Chinese, or observing the culture, it was about recognizing who she is and understanding that there are certain things she had no control over.