top-rated free essay

Amy Tan

By spkamish Jan 17, 2011 699 Words
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.

Although she is very embarrassed at dinner, years later Amy is able to understand the purpose behind her family’s behavior. One of the things her father did that initially embarrasses her is to offer her “the tender fish cheek” while announcing to the entire table that it was her favorite part of the fish. While she was embarrassed about this at the time, years later she came to realize that her father was offering this delicacy to her out of love because he knew it was her favorite. To elucidate, Amy’s father was trying to show Amy that she shouldn’t deny the things she loved; loving fish cheeks was a part of who she was, a part of her culture. Another thing Amy realizes yeas later is that for “Christmas Eve that year, [Amy’s mother] had chosen all [her] favorite foods (137). Just like with her father, Amy’s mother was showing her love for daughter by cooking a special menu just for Amy. Specifically, Amy’s mother gives her a fashionable mini-skirt after the dinner was over because she recognized that her daughter “wanted[ed] to be the same as American girls on the outside,” yet she still admonishes her that “inside [she] must always be Chinese” (137). Restated, Amy’s mother is telling her daughter that she must be very proud of being Chinese. In other words, she must not deny her culture because it is who she is. As a result of her family’s behavior, Amy is originally humiliated; however, she eventually learns that there was a purpose behind her family’s actions on that particular Christmas Eve.

In conclusion, author Amy Tan, in her memoir “Fish Cheeks,” illustrates how her family taught her to appreciate her culture. By refusing to conform to American culture and instead celebrating their Chinese culture, Amy’s family shows her that it is important to be proud of who you are. Amy may change what she looks like on the outside, but inside she will be undeniably and forever, Chinese.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Amy Tan

    ...Amy Tan's "Two Kinds" is an autobiographical look into her childhood that shows the conflict between Tan and her mother, the difference between old and new cultures, the past and the present, and parents' expectations vs. reality. Couples of opposing elements comprise the basis of the entire story; to another extent even the title itself, "Two K...

    Read More
  • Two Kinds by Amy Tan

    ...The author, Amy Tan is a second generation Chinese immigrant. Her parents are both Chinese immigrants. Her father and one of her brothers passed away during her early teens. At that period, she found out that her mother had been married before in China. She left her divorced ex-husband and three daughters in China. In 1987, after her mother reco...

    Read More
  • Amy Tan - Mother Tongue

    ... Mother Tongue Amy Tan makes a valid point about the use of different Englishes that are spoken in different places and to certain people. What one says may sometimes vary based on the person, situation, or event as well. How one speaks and what they pick up on happens in the home and other people see them differently based on the way they spe...

    Read More
  • A Glimpse Into Amy Tan

    ...A Glimpse of Amy Tan As one of the first Asian American cultural writers of her time, Amy Tan is also one of the most significant contemporary writers of Literature today. Amy Tan brings to life the struggles of dual cultural identity, generational clashes due to age and cultural gaps minority woman face in society. Many of her stories are ba...

    Read More
  • Two Kinds Paper Amy Tan

    ...Josh A. Robertson Prof. Villarreal 1302 4/8/13 Paper 3 “Two Kinds” Amy Tan In Amy Tan’s short story “Two Kinds” Jing-Mei, the story’s main character, takes a stand against her mother. The story opens as she describes her childhood, which was full of pain and resentment caused by never becoming the “prodigy” that her mother...

    Read More
  • Style Analysis of Amy Tan in "The Joy Luck Club"

    ...most important elements in writing. In Amy Tan's novel, "The Joy Luck Club", the style significantly contributes to the development of both the tone and the theme of the influences that a mother can have on her daughter. The author effectively portrays the somber tone and the theme by using a concise style of diction, images, details, language, ...

    Read More
  • English Language and Amy

    ...“Mother Tongue” Amy Tan Amy Tan, the Author of “Mother Tongue” very well makes the point across about cultural racism without showing any anger or specifically pointing out racism; Amy makes the reader realize how really not being American can affect how well you could handle everyday situations. The fact that this story...

    Read More
  • Amy Tan: Connection Between Women Within Family

    ...American writer Amy Tan (1952- ) shows connections between women within a family throughout her novels The Bonesetter’s Daughter, The Joy Luck Club, and The Hundred Secret Senses. Tan illustrates the kind of relationship the women share, how their opinions on life differ, and how they resolve their differences. Ms. Tan uses her own experienc...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.