The constant struggle between women and the Confucian system and the use of Taoism to manipulate it and their tension with American values, exemplified in Rose's broken marriage and her mother's opinion of it, is the cause of the tension between the American born daughters and their immigrant parents in the Joy Luck Club. Confucianism is a rigid set of social guidelines and rituals based on one's place in a mainly patriarchal society. Taoism is based on the harmony of the universe and the union of polar opposites-Yin and Yang; a philosophy that one lives their life by. In times of war, Confucianism is prevalent while Taoism is usually practiced during peace. The Joy Luck Club, the game the book is named after and center of their lives, was formed during war but continued well after in times of peace. .
Confucius was a failed politician, great teacher, and Eastern democrat. It is said that culture provides a set of rituals to fall back upon in an unknown situation, like shaking hands with someone when meeting them for the first time. Living during a time of constant war, when morals and ethics were at an all-time low, he drew up a set of strict guidelines for the immoral man to follow. He loved tradition, for he felt that it was, "a potential conduit- one that could funnel into the present behavior patterns that could have been perfected during a golden age in China's past," (Smith 168). For Confucius, there was no self without relationships, "the human self as a node, not an entity; it is a meeting place where lives converge," (Smith 180). The five basic principles of Confucianism are Jen, Chun tzu, Li, Te, and Wen. Jen is the perfect human relationship that we should all strive for by having respect, charity, empathy, faith, and diligence. .
Chun tzu is the real person, one who obtains Jen, "is never at a loss of how to behave," (Smith 173). Li deals with moderation, the five types of human relationships, language, and respect for one's family and elders.