Mother Tongue by Amy Tan Essay
1070 Words5 Pages
Identity and Culture
Amy Tan’s ,“Mother Tongue” and Maxine Kingston’s essay, “No Name Woman” represent a balance in cultures when obtaining an identity in American culture. As first generation Chinese-Americans both Tan and Kingston faced many obstacles. Obstacles in language and appearance while balancing two cultures. Overcoming these obstacles that were faced and preserving heritage both women gained an identity as a successful American.
In the work of Amy Tan’s “Mother’s Tongue” she provides a look into how she adapted her language to assimilate into American culture. She made changes to her language because her mother heavily relied on her for translation. She was the voice of her mother, relaying information in standard English to…show more content…
My mother was in the room. And it was perhaps the first time she had heard me give a lengthy speech using the kind of English I have never used with her.”(417) Overcoming the barrier between languages she spoke aided Tan in building a bridge between cultures. She changed her language to assimilate into American culture while also keeping familial culture. A piece of heritage that uses a language of intimacy, a different sort of English that relates to family talk. Tan grew up with this language and she still uses it with her mother, husband and in her books. (418) Another method to find identity in a new host society is through appearance. In the essay, “No Name Woman” by Maxine Kingston ideals in appearance were passed from generation to generation. Altering ideals when creating identity is noticed in Kingston’s essay. A long held tradition in many Chinese families is that many generations live under the same roof and this can cause a conflict in ideals. Conflicting ideals between generations is shown as Tan tells how the younger generation hid the identities of their sexual color and their character. Hiding these new identities they hoped to avoid potential conflict with generational ideals. Kingston did not hide her identity, she found herself “walking erect (knees straight, toes pointed forward, not pigeon-toed, which is Chinese-feminine) and speaking in an audible
Essay on Understanding the Mothers in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club
1044 Words5 Pages
Understanding the Mothers in The Joy Luck Club
In America, it is common to take mothers for granted and reject the advice they try to give. Generally, their attempt to give advice is considered as an intrusion into our lives and our privacy. In The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan tries to get the reader to take a step back and see the good intentions behind our mother's actions.
In the stories told by Jing-Mei, Tan weaves in flashbacks and memories of Jing-Mei's own childhood experiences, including stories she has heard of her mother Suyuan's early life in China. These stories help to explain why she teaches her daughter the v alues of optimism and determination. As the reader encounters these flashbacks, Suyuan's tragic…show more content…
challenges she may face in life. When learning to play the piano Jing-Mei's mother never expected her to become a genius and told her in broken English: "Only ask you be your best. For you sake"(Tan 136). By encouraging her to be her best, Suyuan wants to teach her daughter to be the best she can be and never have to regret not trying. The reader is able to recognize that Suyuan's intention was like that of most mothers: not to make her daughter's life miserable, but to help her. By teaching her daughter the values of determination and perseverance that have helped Suyan to overcome challenges in her life, Suyan intends to protect her daughter from the tragedy and disappointment that come from giving up and settling for less than the best she can be.
The character of Lindo Jong also reveals her tragic past through Tan's use of flashbacks and recollections of her youth in China. Lindo has been betrothed to the son of a wealthy man, an arrangement she was not very fond of. She went through with the m arriage and "sacrificed [her] life to keep [her] parents' promise," (Tan 49) living in unhappiness until she devises a plan to release her from the marriage without bringing shame to her family. By revealing Lindo's unhappy youth through flashbacks, Tan demonstrates to the reader her willingness to sacrifice her own happiness to keep her family's honor and her inner strength to continue