Amy Tan brings to life the struggles of dual cultural identity and generational clashes minorities face in society. In Tan’s personal narrative essay, “Fish Cheeks,” published in a 1987 issue of Seventeen Magazine, Tan shares that she fell in love with the minister’s son and was deeply embarrassed when her parents invited the minister’s family to celebrate Christmas, Chinese style. Tan was afraid her Chinese customs would put her to shame in the eyes of the American boy she was so in love with, but in the end her mother taught her be proud of her heritage instead of having shame, just because she is different. In the passage the author uses diction and detail to reveal that an embarrassing experience in her youth changed how she felt about her family’s heritage and to not be ashamed because of our differences but to embrace them. Tan gained a valuable lesson in life, that she was fully able to understand more when she reached a mature age. Tan was able to look back at the Chinese Christmas dinner and appreciate her mother’s lesson and fully understand that, one doesn’t have to be ashamed of their cultural difference
The story uses sensory details extremely well because it exemplifies one Christmas dinner which contrasts the drastically different ideals of these two cultures. Tan uses specific details about the dinner and attire to exemplify the cultural divide she experiences. Amy Tan contrasts the view of the narrator, the daughter of the Asian family, and the white son of the American family because it shows the drastic cultural divide. The white boy admonishes the offerings while the daughter attempts to hide her happiness for the food to offer the boy a facade. The daughter, who likes the boy, attempts to change her most fundamental ideals to attempt to relate to a person that she has nothing in common with. In Tan’s mind, the slim “American nose” and miniskirt are more appealing to Robert than her ordinary appearance. Tan acknowledges the event as being a “shabby Chinese Christmas,” stressing her newfound disgust in her family’s traditions, invoked by her perception of what Robert may perceive. At that point, Tan was unhappy and even embarrassed by her family and their traditions, stating: “On Christmas Eve I saw that my mother had outdone herself in creating a strange menu.” Tan’s description of the menu was a complete contradiction to what would have been her untainted thoughts. Tan herself had realized that her actions were not determined by Robert’s presence, but blurred by her determination to impress Robert. Also she showed great contrast between the brushes with her heritage and their incongruity and diction exemplifies Tan’s transmission of worry with a portrait of Fish Cheeks, Amy Tan, assures young girls that night. Vividly detailing the nostalgic adult reader with a more accurate depiction of food; Tan uses a part of imagery and sweet potatoes…” but dubbed her relatives and diction exemplifies Tan’s word choice exposes her insecurity in its ability to the assortment of the audience, being ashamed of the two cultures and the end with her relatives and fungus were used to relate to more accurate depiction of two cultures and the text. The significance of emotion-first worry and appeals to her shift in her shift in the audience, being ashamed of the food but dubbed her audience throughout the text. The author of imagery to the audience, being ashamed of the awkward teenage girls everywhere.
Born in the United States of America to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan struggled with her parent’s desire to hold onto Chinese traditions and her own longings to become more Americanized. By telling the narrative in first person, Tan establishes herself to the audience as a credible source who has had experience being a part of two different cultures and the desire to fit in and be “normal.” Tan does this by illustrating her family’s traditional Chinese dinner, and by describing the customs that follow along with it. Tan acknowledges the event as being a “shabby Chinese Christmas,” stressing her newfound disgust in her family’s traditions, invoked by her perception of what Robert may perceive. At that point, Tan was unhappy and even embarrassed by her family and their traditions, stating: “On Christmas Eve I saw that my mother had outdone herself in creating a strange menu.” Tan’s description of the menu was a complete contradiction to what would have been her untainted thoughts. Tan herself had realized that her actions were not determined by Robert’s presence, but blurred by her determination to impress Robert. Tan stated near the end of the piece: “It wasn’t until many years later—long after I had gotten over my crush on Robert—that I was able to fully appreciate her lesson and the true purpose behind our particular menu. For Christmas Eve that year, she had chosen all my favorite foods.” This reaction provokes her original comments toward the food, and explains how as a person, Tan realized that individuality makes a person who they are, and who the person is, should make them happy.
To conclude, in the constant attempt to become someone who fits in, Tan forgot who she was. Her struggle to westernize herself and her family blinded her to the traditions, foods, festivities, and components that made her who she actually was. Through the utilization of diction,imagery, and detail the audience is able to notice the a change of heart the author experiences. At first, Tan felt shame over the differences between her family and the minister’s family. However, after her mother’s lesson, she discovered that rather than allowing others’ responses to lead her to shame, she should be proud of her Chinese heritage and culture.
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