I'm trying to rhetorically analyze a passage in Amy Tan's novel titled The Joy Luck Club, where a character, Lindo Jong, describes her experience with the arranged marriage process. I've included the passage below:

The matchmaker had bragged about me: ‘An earth horse for an earth sheep. This is the best marriage combination’… But even if I had known I was getting such a bad husband, I had no choice, now or later. We were always the last to give up stupid old-fashioned customs.

I'm currently trying to analyze the negative diction and ambiguity of this passage. The negative diction can be seen with the words "stupid" and "old-fashioned." The ambiguity occurs with the word "customs," as the reader doesn't know what exactly the customs Tan is criticizing are: are the customs society's suppression of a woman's voice, or society's reliance on astrological signs?

I'm not really sure what the rhetorical goal of this passage would be, and what the purpose of the ambiguity is. Any ideas?

  • 2
    Just wondering, did you think of this question on your own or is it from a test or something?
    – Mithical
    May 18 '17 at 19:16
  • 1
    Also, I'd advise you to finish registering your account, so that you don't lose access to it - we wouldn't want that, would we? :)
    – Mithical
    May 18 '17 at 19:20
  • I'm writing a paper about Amy Tan.
    – user1500
    May 18 '17 at 19:24
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    user1499, you seem to have created multiple accounts since you didn't register the first one. Please see these instructions for merging your accounts - having done that, you'll be able to do things like edit your own question and comment on it without needing help from anyone else.
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 21 '17 at 16:18

I wouldn't characterize it as "ambiguous," it seems fairly clear that she's using the one custom to critique the other, and characterizing both as stupid and old-fashioned.

Rhetorically speaking, the astrological belief is presented as more prima facie absurd and outdated, the lack of agency over her own marriage is absurd and outdated by extension.

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