Amy Tan

Topics: Embarrassment, Shame, Amy Tan Pages: 2 (699 words) Published: January 17, 2011
Have you ever been utterly embarrassed by your family? In the memoir “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan, Amy, a Chinese-American girl is embarrassed by her family’s Chinese customs at Christmas Eve dinner. The reason she is so humiliated is because her family invited the minister and his family over for dinner, and Amy, who has a crush on their son Robert, is acutely aware of the cultural differences between the two families. In spite of the fact that the meal was a horrifying event for young Amy, she eventually learns to appreciate her mother’s advice to be proud of her Chinese culture.

From the very start of the memoir, Amy makes it clear that she is ashamed of her family’s food and customs. First of all, she uses very negative words such as “slimy,” “appalling,” and “rubbery white sponges” to describe the meal (136). Obviously the use of these words shows that she feels that this meal would in no way be appetizing to their guests. It is clear that Amy is terrified that Robert will be disgusted by this meal because of the way she describes it. In addition to her shame about the food, Amy is embarrassed by her family’s behavior at dinner when her “relatives licked the ends of their chopsticks and reached across the table, dipping them into the . . . plates of food” (137). This embarrasses Amy because most Americans consider it rude to reach across the table and unsanitary to dip eating utensils into food that is to be shared. In other words, Amy must feel that Robert thinks her family has no manners at all! Above all, Amy is ashamed when her “father leaned back and belched loudly, thanking [her] mother for her fine cooking” (137). Amy is obviously aware that in American culture, belching at the table is rude. Amy’s mortification is amplified when she looks at Robert and sees that he’s embarrassed as well. As one can see, Amy suffers great embarrassment at the Christmas Eve dinner because her Chinese culture is so different from that of the guests.

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