February 1, 2015
Mrs. Blackey--Period 7
Poetry Analysis Revision: "Buffet Etiquette"
The speaker of "Buffet Etiquette" by Hieu Minh Nguyen is troubled because of his lack of his Vietnamese ethnicity due to the "melting pot" of American culture. As a child, the speaker was heavily influenced by his native culture, but, over the years the he has become more integrated with U.S. culture, which has thus caused him to lose identity of himself, and even become a stereotype for Asian Americans. The central purpose of this poem is to show that if one loses touch with one's culture, then one begins to lose identity of oneself. Nguyen begins the poem with a personal anecdote relating to how he and his mother do not engage in conversations at the dinner table anymore, because of how it reminds each of them how differing their accents are from one another, which causes each of them to become sad. He further uses metaphor to describe his voice as "bleach," because it has been washed away by his lack of Vietnamese culture, and has been replaced with the sterile and white voice of an American, which is later shown to be true because of one of the speaker's first teachers assumed that the speaker was adopted, because of how well the speaker spoke English at a young age. This description of the speaker's voice with negative connotations is continued when Nguyen uses simile to refer to his house as a "silent film," because of how rarely the speaker and the speaker's mother talk in the house, and how, when watching old home movies, the speaker can barely understand himself sometimes; however, in these home movies, the speaker is always able to understand his mother telling him to smile, meaning that he can still remember a few words of his native language. Nguyen continues by calling himself a "fortune cookie," and that he is "every Nike shoe that [he] own[s]," using metonymy to describe himself as these things due to the fact that fortune cookies are not...
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