Tan begins by sharing a story of how she didn’t want to accept herself and her Chinese culture all because a nice-looking guy and his family came over for Christmas Eve dinner. In this story, she explains her thoughts and feelings before, during, and after the minister’s son, Robert, and his family comes over for dinner by using imagery and tone. Her thoughts and feelings shows how much she was uncomfortable and even embarrassed from the beginning of dinner to the end, but all that took place that night turned out to be a well-learned lesson at the end, you should never have to be embarrassed about who you are as a unique human being to change for a person, especially a guy. The author’s tone, imagery, and impact of ethos is used well throughout the story.
Amy Tan’s tone in this story can be described as reflective. When an author uses a reflective tone, that author is reflecting on an experience they went through and sharing it with the audience that may reflect on it as well. Amy telling this story “Fish Cheeks” is her reflecting on a time where she was embarrassed by the food and the way her family ate at the Christmas Eve dinner her mom invited the minister and his family to. She also reflects on the message that she learned from that night. Another tone displayed in this story is a light-hearted tone. Amy Tan uses a light-hearted tone to show the humor and to also keep her readers engaged. This tone makes it seem like she is having a conversation with us as if we were one of her close friends. With this tone, she doesn’t cover up the message she is perceiving even with all of the humor. She is telling an experience she had by also getting straight to the point.
Imagery plays a big role in this story. Towards the end of paragraph two of this selection, Amy start’s asking questions. Her asking all of these questions allows the reader to picture her being nervous and even scared for the events that were to come. Amy also gives very vivid descriptions that allows you to picture the food that was prepared like the “slimy rock cod with bulging eyes,” or “tofu, that looked like stacked white rubbery sponges.” She also goes in deep detail about how her family was eating and explained their actions at the table such as “licking the ends of their chopsticks,” and “my father leaned back and belched loudly.” These descriptive details let the readers picture everything. Maybe even make the reader feel like they are there at the moment.
Amy Tan uses the appeal of ethos in this short story. Even though she’s being humorous for the most part, she uses ethos to share that she has been through something some of the female readers have went through as well. The way she wrote this short story made the readers, especially female teenage readers, understand what she’s talking about. The impact of ethos makes her credible about the information since it’s her own experience. For example, when she says “You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame,”, the saying from her mother, shows her use of ethos in this selection. This excerpt can be connected with the female readers, or any reader, having them feel like they are one with the author.The story inspired many people to write their impact, feelings, and reaction from the story. There are many sources that shows this. “Close Reading Practice: Amy Tan’s ‘Fish Cheeks’” and “Fish Cheeks Analysis” shows the reader’s process throughout analyzing the short story. From the looks of it the readers caught everything the author was trying to perceive through imagery, tone, and even the message. There’s even a source that goes deeper in depth about Amy Tan’s writing style and how she uses imagery and tone effectively. This source is “From Raw to Cooked: Amy Tan’s ‘‘Fish Cheeks’’ through a Levi-Strauss Lens” by Susan K. Kevra. Even though she uses a light-hearted tone and imagery throughout this story, she doesn’t fail to perceive her feelings and message to her readers. “But inside you must always be Chinese. You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame.”
Kevra, Susan K. “From Raw to Cooked: Amy Tan’s ‘‘Fish Cheeks’’ through a Levi-Strauss Lens.” Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedaggies 6 (2015). November 2017.
Khattack, Monica. “”Fish Cheeks”.” september 2012. sites.google.com. November 2017.
Tan, Amy. “Fish Cheeks Amy Tan .” n.d. ncps-k12.org. November 2017.
Zhong, Zili. “Power of Process Assignment Title: Close Reading Practice: Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks.” n.d. scribd.com. November 2017.