As many people ponder on how Chinese parents grow so many virtuous and prodigies, our minds are immediately drawn to the assumption that Asian mothers are always directing their children into depressing lives—in which they are always dictated by their mothers to do well. Even most of us, as sons and daughters of Asian mothers, find it difficult to accept the fact that some are oppressed by our mother’s domineering orders and supervision. Amy Chua, however, reprimands this commonplace notion by including her own experience and entices us to appreciate the methods behind producing prodigies. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is a revolutionary novel that will perplex, illuminate and elucidate the readers to understand the collision of two cultures—western and eastern—and how one’s family story can change the perspectives of the society.
Chua, a mother of two daughters and a tiger mother, recounts her life with raising her children up in the ‘Chinese way’ whilst living in a society where her children are prone to become raised in the ‘Western way’. She describes how she constructed her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, to be hard-workers and best in everything they do. Tiger mother, also, highlights that “what Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.”So, she scolds the two to play their instruments flawlessly—without even a single mistake—by calling her oldest daughter ‘garbage’;she bribes her youngest daughter with lollies in order for her to enter a competition;and, limits them to specific rules that could neither be negotiated nor altered. As distressing and oppressive these may sound, the author justifies her actions for acting in such way.
What makes this novel so notable and illuminating is the way in which Chua intertwines her own feelings towards her daughters and the cultural differences between Western and Asian parents;for example, she indicates that Western parents are always encouraging their children to well, while on the other hand, Asian parents believe that the most efficient way of raising children up is by “preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits, and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.” This not only makes the readers acquire an insight of a typical Chinese family, but also grasp the concept on how divergent the cultures are. She, however, loosely claims that one is not better than other—for every parent want to do best for their children, it is just that Chinese have a different method of doing so.
If you are struggling to understand the strictness of your, own, mother’s or Asian mother’s actions and behaviours, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is the perfect novel for you;it will allow you to capture the dichotomy methods and how the role of an Asian mother is not immoral, but rather a desire to help fulfill their children. A ravishing novel that will guarantee you to be lured, paralyzed and delighted.
—Sarah Oh (’19)