A Constant Struggle
In Amy Tans novel The Kitchen Gods Wife, the life and journey of Winnie Louie is portrayed. It shows how every part of her life, from her childhood to her marriage and finally the love that changed her for who she is. While Winnie was a child, she had a constant need for a mother and the advice that could have save her from her marriage. Her abusive and deranged husband Wen Fu and the war with Japan, which she survived and made her stranger and able to fight for what she needed. Finally the love she felt that changed her and softens her. Her whole entire life and her experiences changed her and who she was. It made her stronger and helped her grow into who she became.
Her childhood and teenage years were spent feeling motherless. After her mother abandoned her, she didnt have anyone. She moved in with her aunts who didnt raise her as a daughter, instead she had to learn all the wifely duties herself, which was suppose to be taught by her mother.
Her mother was not being nice to me, letting me sleep. She wanted her daughter to get up and learn how to put a house in order, so that one day Peanut would know how to be a proper wife. New Aunt did not consider these were skills I should learn too. But I watched. I learned without anyone telling me what to do. (Tan 136)
She never had the support she needed. Even though she learned by watching, she was never encouraged. This lack of teaching and support made her venerable, she wasnt guided and didnt know what to expect in a marriage. This also made her self-reliant. She knew that she wouldnt learn if she didnt take the initiative and copy. By educating herself, she learned that if you want something in life, you have to do it yourself. Also she didnt have a mother to guide her to a good marriage. I did not have a mother to tell me who to marry.(Tan 132) Her aunts lead her on the wrong path. By not having a mother she was lost. Her decision was based off the jealousy she had because of the relationship Peanut and Wen Fu had. If she had had a mother, she may have never married Wen Fu and instead married someone better who wouldnt have abused her. This childhood changed who she is and affected her decisions.
He marriage with Wen Fu was one of the most destructive things to her. I changed her; it took away all her nave views on life. She had to grow up fast. Her husband was a psychopath. He had serious anger problems and he abused her through the whole entire marriage. On top of her husband abuse, a war was going on. First off, his abuse to her got to her, and brought her to a snapping point. My mind broke my will to fight was gone. Voice gave one loud cry for myself. And then, with my face on the floor I begged him.(Tan 394) This scene was her breaking point. All the strength and courage she had gain was lost that night. The next day she composed herself. She tried to leave her husband and take her son. He came back to get her. She regained her will to fight though. She kept this her whole entire life. She gained strength while in that marriage and maybe a bit of pigheadedness.
Wen fu asked me how I like the dish, I was honest. Bitter, I said. The next night he ordered the cook to make the same dish for me, nothing else. He smiled and asked again, Now how do you like it? I answered the same way as before. Night after night, it was the same question, the same answer, the same dish the next day. I had to eat that bitter cabbage or nothing. But I didnt give up. I waited for Wen Fu to grow tired of this cabbage game. And after two weeks time, my stomach proved stronger then his temper. (Tan 358)
She continued eating the cabbage day after day. She felt if she gave up in it would be like saying her life was over. She could have given in and taken the easier path but she didnt. She wanted to stay strong. That is what her marriage to Wen fun gave her strength and although it was torture, she over came it. As Friedrich Nietzsche said That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
Finally her husband, Jimmy Louie gave her back herself. He came as the war ended and also saved her from Wen Fu. He taught her what true love was. Jimmy Louie saved her from her life and let her live again. Because every time I remember this, I have to cry a little by myself. I dont know why something that made me so happy then makes me cry now (Tan 440). Winnie is reflecting on her love with Jimmy Louie. When she met him again and how much she loved him. He brought back happiness into her life. Changing her into more loving person. This shift helped her leave her abusive life behind. This love was what helped Winnie survive her imprisonment. He constantly reminded her of his love in letters while he was in America. His love for her gave her a reason to live her and helped her over come her past.
Winnie Louies life was not easy. It was a constant challenge, but she made the best of it. She taught herself the skill she needed while she was a child. She grew stronger in her abusive marriage with Wen Fu. Finally she found herself, love, and happiness with Jimmy Louie. Her life wasnt easy but she lived it and she survived. She became who she is because of the experience, good or bad, in her life. She grew strong and then was saved by Jimmy Louie. She is a strong person who lived a challenging life but it made her stronger.