Ms. Christina Crawford
February 03, 2014
Compare and Contrast
Sandra Cisneros’s essay, “Only Daughter” is an autobiography about being raised in a family of six brothers, and how she is desperate for her dad to accept her for whom she is, and what she has become, a writer. “When he was finally finished after what seemed like hours, my father looked up and asked: where can we get more copies of this for the relatives?”(114). In this quote, Cisneros’ dad really shows how proud he feels towards his daughter and how much he enjoyed her story, making Cisneros feel appreciated. In Amy Tan’s short story, “Mother Tongue” she writes about how she is passionate for all the different types of English that she is capable of speaking. She also wants her mother to accept her for what she decides to be, a writer, “I knew I had succeeded where it counted when my mother finished reading my book and gave me her verdict: so easy to read” (471). This quote shows that Tan is able to accomplish her objective of making her mother feel pleased with her work even though her mom is not a fluent English speaker. Through a close comparison of Cisneros and Tan’s use of language, the reader can help understand how the authors covey a similar theme of desiring the approval of their parents, even though their English was limited. “Only Daughter” and “Mother Tongue” are both arranged with similar rhetorical devices such as flashbacks and anecdotes. Both essays are memoirs describing how Cisneros and Tan became writers. In Cisneros “Only Daughter,” her father refers to her only daughter as one of his sons. “I have seven sons. He meant siete hijos, seven children, but he translated it as sons. He didn’t mean anything by that mistranslation, I’m sure. But somehow I could feel myself being erased” (112-113). In this anecdote Cisneros describes how the language shaped her in wanting to get the approval of her father. In Tan’s, “Mother Tongue,” she talks about a political gangster who had the same last name as her family and wanted her family to adopt him. The gangster became powerful and one day showed up at her mother’s wedding. Part of what her mom said, “Now important person very hard to invite him. Chinese way, come only to show respect, don’t stay for dinner. Respect for making big celebration, he shows up. Means gives lots of respect” (467). In this flashback Tan describes how her mother’s “broken language” helps her develop her language into the writer she became. For Cisneros “Only Daughter”, the audience is mostly Hispanics. This essay can relate best with reader from a Hispanic background, being that they come from a different country and they are not fluent English speakers. They can also relate to Cisneros’s family experiences. In contrast, Tan’s audience is Asian-Americans, because they can identify to the type of speech or fragmented or “broken language” like Tan mentions in “Mother Tongue.” The simplification of certain concepts that Tan practices in her writing allows her writing to be grasped by a wide range of readers. However, both pieces of writing deal with two female writers that are writing to immigrants from whom English is a second language. The diction in both essays contrast from each other because of the choice of words the writers use. In “Only Daughter,” Cisneros’s choice of words are casual. “After four years of college and two more in graduate school, and still no husband, my father shakes his head even now and says I wasted all that education”(112). Here Cisneros uses casual language to explain how she feels about her father’s view about her education. In contrast, Amy Tan’s diction is that of a more formal writing. She uses academic writing when she talks to her audience. “The intersection of memory upon imagination” and “There is an aspect of my fiction that relates to thus- and- thus” (467). Although the diction in the works contrast with each other, both are...
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