Synthesis essay on Mother Tongue by Amy Tan and Censoring Myself by Betty Shamieh

Topics: English language, Censorship, United States Pages: 5 (1609 words) Published: April 13, 2014
English 125
April, 2nd, 2012
Synthesis essay
Today we live in a society that is often called a "salad bowl". It is called a "salad bowl" because it consists of various different people from various different backgrounds. We all live together in a society, but we still retain our own distinct flavors which helps to contribute to the richness and diversity of society. Unfortunately, today we also live in a society in which some of these groups are marginalized and looked down upon by others. Hence, often times as individuals we feel the need to compromise the way in which we communicate our ideas so that we can appeal to the views of the majority. Two authors explore how their attempt to compromise almost caused them to become detached from their roots. In "Mother Tongue," by Amy Tan, Tan talks about growing up as a young child in America and learning the English language. She speaks about growing up as a writer and her mother's imperfect diction which had a major influence on her. On the other hand, In her essay, "Censoring Myself," Betty Shamieh talks about being an American playwright and having to censor herself because of how her work was viewed. Both authors explore the influence that their background had on their ability to express themselves. As individuals we should not be afraid to express ourselves because of our differences, rather we should use our differences and show how our distinctions make us very unique.

Firstly, In ""Mother Tongue," Tan talks about how her mother's limited English diction skewered her perception of her mother. Tan mentions how, "Like others, I have described it to people as "broken" or "fractured" English" (Tan 273). This shows how Tan viewed her mother's English speaking abilities. She describes it as if her mother spoke damaged English, which needed to be mended or repaired. For Tan it was imperative that she spoke proper English and used proper diction, thus she was ashamed of her mother's English. Tan fell under the impression that her mother's English speaking abilities reflected the quality of what she had to say. Since her mother expressed her words in an imperfect manner, tan believed that her thoughts were also imperfect (Tan 274). Her perception was also supported by how people in society responded to her mother. Tan states that people in department stores, banks, and restaurants would not take her mother seriously. They would provide her bad service, pretend not to understand her, or act as if they were mute (Tan 274). This further contributed to Tan's feeling of embarrassment and shame towards her mother. Tan also describes an incident in which her mother went to the hospital and was told that the hospital had misplaced her CAT scan. The hospital did not show any remorse for losing the scan, nor did they assure her that they would locate it, that is until her mother had Tan speak to the hospital (Tan 275). As a reader this shows us how language is perceived and the role that it plays in the lives of individuals. For Tan it was imperative that she was able to blend in and be like others, so that she wouldn't be ridiculed. Luckily, she was able to realize the positive influence that her mother's diction bought her.

Furthermore, Tan's mother teaches her to think in a different manner than the other children in her school. Tan states that her developing language skills were influenced by her family and in this case her mother, hence it affected her results on achievement tests. Since her mother taught her to think differently she was unable to perform as well in English as she did in math and science. Later Tan realizes the value of this different systematic way of thinking and it contributes to her rebellious nature towards her teachers who suggested she'd be much better in engineering, accounting, or anything else than English, since she was of Asian descent. She decided to challenge this stereotype, and thanks to her mother became a...

Cited: 1) Neweib, Janice. "Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." The Mercury Reader: A Custom Publication. New York: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2011. 271-277. Print.
2) Silverman, Jonathan, and Dean Rader. "Censoring Myself by Betty Shamieh." The World Is a Text: Writing, Reading, and Thinking about Visual and Popular Culture. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2011. 294-296. Print.
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