Amy Tan Short Stories


Rhetorical Analysis Of Amy Tan’s Mother Tongue

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

In the essay “Mother Tongue”, Amy Tan believes that everyone speaks different languages in certain settings and are labeled by the way they speak. The author interested by how language is utilized in our daily life” and uses language as a daily part of her work as a writer. Throughout her life she recognizes her struggles applying proper English instead of the broken used in her home. She became aware of how she spoke was when giving a lecture about her book The Joy Club and realized her mother who was in the audience did not understand what was being discussed. This was because she never used proper English in her home or talking to her mother. It is her belief utilizing proper English and broken English is essential in communication depending who you are talking to. The next time she noticed this about her English was when walking with her parents, she made the statement “not waste money that way”. This is due to the language barrier in her household that is used only by her family. Her mother was raised in China and spoke Mandarin her English always came across as broken to everyone outside the family, which made it hard for her to understand when someone spoke proper English.

Amy insured everyone that met her mother’s that even though her English seem “broken” it does not reflect her intelligence. Even though people placed this label on her mother of the way she spoke she rejected the idea that her mother English is “limited”. She highlights the fact that even her mother recognizes that her opportunities and interactions in life are limited by the English language. Amy Tan realizes that how you communicate within the family dynamic, especially for immigrant families plays a large role in in the growth of the child. It allowed her to acknowledge that perhaps her family’s language had an effect on the opportunities she was provided in her life. For instance in her experience, she notices that Asian students actually do better in math tests than in language tests, and she questions whether or not other Asian students are discouraged from writing or directed in the direction of math and science. Tan changed her major from pre-med to English and she decided to become a freelance writer even though her boss told her she couldn’t write. She eventually went on to write fiction, she celebrates the fact that she did not follow the expectations that people had of her because of her struggle with writing and language. With her mother as an influence Tan decided to write her stories for people like her, people with “broken” or “limited” English. In the essay, Mother Tongue, Amy Tan goes to great length to persuade the readers of her experiences being multicultural family that the effectiveness and the price an individual pays by insuring that their ideas and intents do not change due to the way they speak, whether they use “perfect” or “broken” English. Tan also clarifies to the readers that her “mother’s expressive command of English belies how much she actually understands”. She uses many examples to take readers into her life experiences to discover this truth. She utilizes the first person view throughout the essay and adds her firsthand knowledge of growing up with a multiple languages spoken in the home. This was done to validate of her argument and shine a light on the importance of this issue in her life as well as her culture.

The examples she uses is when she tells a story of her mother’s struggles with a stockbroker because of her “broken “ English, Tan quotes her mother’s words “Why he not send me check, already two weeks late. So mad he lie to me, losing me money”. Amy Tan did this to give the readers an idea on how this particular situation played out and how her mother’s English affected outcome. The authors writing is also very emotional and somewhat angry at throughout the essay, it makes her and her family very sympathetic figures. Tan’s specific concern is being shunned by both white-America and the Asian population. This also further her strengthen her views that puts her in an equally frustrating position from the perspective of Americans with the stereotypical views of Asians. Many people in college looked at her funny for being an English major instead of Math as a major. Individuals of Chinese decent are associated with math or science and that is because of the stereotyping that Asian receive. This is based on studies being conducted that a majority of Asians do in fact excel in mathematics and sciences.

Amy also observed that many of her instructors towards math and science as well and was even told by a former boss that writing was not biggest attribute and should focus more onto her account management skills. The author states that “perhaps they also have teachers who are steering them away from writing and into math and science, which is what happened to me”. The author utilized the nonfiction essay form to discuss how language played a major role in her life. This also allowed her to show the readers how her relationship with the English language and her mother has changed over the years. In her essay, Mother Tongue Amy Tan describes numerous incidences that helped shape her views as a writer. The uses of first persons account to describe her experiences with her mother and how her mother’s use of the English language influenced her upbringing, such as a story her mother once told her about a guest at her mother’s wedding “Du Yusong having business like fruit stand. Like off-the-street kind. He is Du like Du Zong – but not Tsung-ming Island people….That man want to ask Du Zong father take him in like become own family. Du Zong father wasn’t look down on him, but didn’t take seriously, until that man big like become a mafia. Now important person, very hard to inviting him. She may have chosen to focus on this type sentence structure because it gave the readers sense of awareness into her life and also to make it easier for them to understand the factors that shaped her style as a writer. In conclusion after reading Mother Tongue, it became very apparent that her mother played an important part in the author’s life. However, after further reading, I determined that she could have been addressing a specific group of people. She is also explaining her story to people who read her works, since so much of her literature seems to be influenced by how she views of the English language. Amy Tan goes to great lengths in the essay to give bits and pieces of how she overcame the perception that many people had of her, since she did not do as well with English-related schooling as she did with the Sciences, or Math.

Works Cited

  1. Tan, Amy. ‘Mother Tongue.’ Wake Tech English 111. 1990. 275-280.
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Analysis Of Pathos, Ethos And Logos In Mother Tongue By Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Does everyone consider English as a single language? There are inferences that English is a single language, but in reality, people develop diverse versions of English as their mother tongue such that it is very uncommon to discover two people that speak the exact same English because there are so many different forms of the language. A well-known author, Amy Tan recalls “all the Englishes that she grew up with”, all of which influence her perception of the world as well as her own English. In sequential instances alluding to her “broken English”, Tan conveys the development of preconceived notions of her mother’s intelligence measured solely on how fluently she spoke. Through the use of pathos, ethos and logos, Tan suggests that the spoken word is meant to captivate an individual’s “intent”, “passion”, “imagery”, “rhythms of speech”, and “nature of thoughts”- his or her truest self while communicating with others.

In addition, by analyzing how Tan’s perception of her mother was affected by her mother’s English, it allowed Tan to come to the realization that she, too, forgot the true objective of the English language – to reflect one’s personality in its entirety. Tan’s emotional side confesses that “she was ashamed of her English”. Just as any average Joe, Tan belittles her mother’s thoughts simply because she could not express them perfectly. However, she comes to the revelation that the quality of expression does not correlate to quality of thought. Tan confirms this train of thought when she affirms that her mother’s tongue “was the language that helped shape the way she saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world” which asserts the power of language. The language we are accustomed to hearing affects our thoughts as well as our beliefs which in turn influence the type of language that we use to express these ideas. Thus, Mrs. Tan taught her daughter that spoken English is a reflection of one’s truest self. Could add example of hospital incident where the hospital did not apologize when they lost the CAT scan and remove some above to make it more relevant to pathos”. Amy Tan uses ethos to present the idea that societal expectations must not negatively influence one’s perception. When Mrs. Tan visited the hospital for a CAT scan “the hospital did not apologize…or have any sympathy…”, which exemplifies the repercussions of letting society negatively affect one’s views. While the hospital did not provide proper service to Mrs. Tan due to her broken English, they were able to address all of the concerns once Tan was involved and was able to communicate with the hospital staff in proper English.

Furthermore, Tan addresses “why are not more Asian Americans represented in American literature. Why are there few Asian Americans enrolled in creative writing programs? Why do so many Chinese American students go into engineering?” with the fact that many teachers steer students toward math and science degrees, while diverting them from reading and writing even if that is what they enjoy more.

Lastly, Tan puts forward logos in providing evidence by her analogies to her mother as well. Mrs. Tan proved that she could understand people when they spoke perfect or regular English as well as when she read in English such that Amy expresses “…my mother’s expressive command of English belies how much she actually understands. She reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week…and reads all of Shirley MacLaine’s books with ease — all kinds of things I can’t begin to understand.” The logic behind this validates her point that if she can comprehend English perfectly while still speaking in broken English, then perhaps other people who are treated as if they cannot understand actually do.

Conclusively, Amy Tan exemplifies emotional, ethical, and logical strategies to develop a strong argument the English language can be quite diverse. There are instances where an emotional approach allowed Tan to come to the realization that Mrs. Tan is treated unfairly in society due to her poor language skills. Meanwhile, Tan’s ethics allow her to diminish thoughts that Mrs. Tan’s spoken English represents her ability to comprehend English. While some may believe that English is a single language, many individuals would argue that they develop diverse versions of English as their mother tongue.

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Searching for One’s Identity: the Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Hundred Secret Senses


The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan is a modern novel that delves into the search for an identity and the tumultuous life that family can bring. Throughout the novel, Olivia Yee Bishop narrates her life with her half-sister Kwan and the tales that she tells. Kwan, believing that she has yin eyes and can see ghosts, often tells Olivia stories of a past life that both women were a part of. While Olivia believes that Kwan’s stories are complete fallacy, time and trying circumstances begin to change her mind. Tan once again creates a brilliant story, one that shows Olivia’s self-exploration and how she finds it in her heart to accept her sister as she is.

Plot Summary:

The novel begins with Olivia Yee Bishop explaining how her relationship with her half-sister Kwan began. Olivia lives in California with her parents and brothers. As her father is dying, he asks her mother for a promise. This is to find his daughter, Kwan, in China and bring her home. No one in the family knew that he had another daughter, so this is a complete shock to them. Out of grief, Olivia’s mother ardently promises to find Kwan. After a long search, they are able to find her and bring her to California. Olivia, only five years old, is afraid that Kwan is going to get all of her mother’s attention and does not want her to live with them. Kwan, on the other hand, is a very open and naïve seventeen year old girl.

Olivia, whom Kwan calls Libby-ah, finds her older sister to be strange and annoying. One road block in their relationship is the fact that Kwan believes herself to have what she calls yin eyes, meaning that she can see and speak to ghosts. Immediately alarmed, Olivia tells the adults about the ghost stories, despite Kwan’s trust that she would keep it a secret. Kwan is soon put into a mental facility and forced to undergo electroshock therapy. After this, she is released and does not talk about ghosts- except to Olivia. The latter is overcome with guilt and does not tell anyone this time. Kwan, despite her period at the facility, does not fault Olivia. In fact, her love continues to grow and she sees them as a real family. She often cares for Olivia like a mother would for her daughter.

As time goes on, Kwan continues to tell stories of a so-called past life. She says that it begins in 1864 and that she is a young one-eyed girl called Nunumu. The village in which she lives becomes somewhat overrun with American foreigners, including General Cape, Yiban, and Miss Banner. Throughout the novel, obvious links between Miss Banner and Olivia are revealed, as well as links between Yiban and Simon. In Kwan’s stories, Miss Banner and Yiban fall in love and are constantly torn apart, but in the end their relationship endures. Olivia first thinks that Kwan is just trying to convince her to stay with Simon, but she slowly begins to believe the tales. In a way, she thinks that she is going crazy but she feels like she remembers what Kwan is talking about.

When Kwan is about forty, she tells Olivia once again how much she misses China. Olivia, feelings guilty for being a bad sister, decides that the two should take a trip there. Wanting to play matchmaker, Kwan arranges for Simon to join them as well. She hopes that this trip will smooth things over and perhaps save the marriage. The three journey to China and end up in Changmian, the village that Kwan grew up in. This village just happens to be the setting of the stories that Kwan tells Olivia. The premise of the trip is an article that Simon and Olivia have applied to write, Olivia being the photographer and Simon jotting down notes along the way.

The trip is interrupted when Kwan’s aunt, Big Ma, is killed in a bus accident. Before the funeral takes place, Simon and Olivia decide to go for a walk to the caves. They wander and wander, and Simon eventually goes off on his own. Olivia waits for him for the ten minutes he promised he would be gone and then goes to search for him. He is missing all night and later Kwan insists on going by herself to search for him in the caves. A few hours later, Simon returns from the opposite direction that Kwan left and Olivia is frantic. She, realizing that she is still in love with him, runs to him hurriedly.

The story jumps to that of two months later. Kwan still has not been found and has been pronounced dead by officials. A search party had been called in, but instead of finding Kwan, they found an “intricate maze of caves” (351). The search for Kwan was all but forgotten in the frenzy created by the newfound discovery. After Big Ma’s funeral, Simon and Olivia go back to California and try to put the past behind them.

Almost two years later, the final chapter begins. Simon and Olivia have a fourteen-month-old baby girl. Her name is Samantha Li, Kwan’s last name which both Olivia and her daughter have taken. They do not live with Simon all of the time, but they are trying to work things out. He comes over on the weekends and they are attempting to learn how to be a family. Olivia remembers Kwan and thinks about her often. She says that Kwan “intended to show [her] the world is not a place but the vastness of the soul” (358). Kwan and Olivia, despite their obvious differences, have influenced each other throughout their time together.

Setting Analysis:

The Hundred Secret Senses moves between California and China throughout the story. The modern part, with the Bishops and Kwan, takes place in California where the three live. The story that Kwan tells, on the other hand, occurs in China in the mid-1800s. This is during the final years of the Taiping Rebellion. During this time, Americans visited Changmian and set up their lives there. Nunumu, otherwise known as Kwan in a past life, and the Hakka people were approached by these missionaries. The missionaries claimed to be God Worshippers and wanted to live there. General Cape, the leader, called the people who lived in Changmian God Worshippers as well. He urged them to join him as soldiers and brought out gifts for the villagers, promising “Great Peace” (34). The Hakka people listened intently, believing that this peace was just around the corner. Eventually, he betrayed them and the people that were left in Changmian after the soldiers departed were stuck with next to nothing and very poor lives.

Without the time period of the Taiping Rebellion, this would not have been able to take place. The villagers would not be so desperate as to believe some foreigner’s empty promises and Nunumu would not be forced to try and save Miss Banner and Yiban. While they were foreigners, Nunumu could see that they did not know the goings on that General Cape had created. They were simply two people in love that wanted a better life for themselves. The setting of Changmian is also important. It is a remote little village that has not seen a lot of action. They are, in effect, a quiet town that functions normally. The arrival of these foreigners turns out to be the downfall of them. This setting is an essential part of the story as a whole.

Flashing forward to modern day Changmian, this setting is equally as important. It is still the same village, but it is also where Kwan grew up. The town, while basically destroyed by the foreigners back during the Taiping Rebellion, is shown to have recovered. It is once again quiet and somewhat insignificant. This location is a crucial part because of the caves. It is where Simon is initially lost and where Kwan disappears. This is the place that the search parties discover caves that the Hakka people may have escaped out of back in the mid to late 1800s.

The setting of Changmian, both in the flashbacks and in modern time, impacted the story greatly. It made Kwan’s stories possible, with Nunumu having to help Miss Banner and Yiban attempt to escape from the traitorous foreigners. This location is also what brought Simon and Olivia closer and what ultimately led to Kwan’s disappearance. While a different setting may not have altered the story completely, Changmian is what really made The Hundred Secret Senses as poignant a novel as it is.

Explain the main characters:

The main characters in The Hundred Secret Senses include Olivia, Kwan, and Simon. Olivia is the narrator who is going through a rough time in her life. Kwan, her older half-sister, is the one to try and change Olivia’s life, believing that fate will fix things. Simon, Olivia’s estranged husband, plays a key role in her journey to self-discovery. These three individuals have an intertwined storyline that develops throughout the novel. As they travel from California to China, all three undergo specific changes that affect themselves and each other.

There is conflict between the main characters, namely Olivia and Simon. The two, once married and in love, are separated and a divorce is pending. Olivia feels that Simon is still pining over his deceased girlfriend, Elza. While he has been open about his past relationship, Olivia cannot help but feel that Elza is everywhere in their life. This may have something to do with Kwan and her stories of ghosts. Simon, not realizing how unhappy Olivia is, continues with life as usual. One day, she tells him how depressed she is feeling with the direction their life is heading and he responds that she is just in a funk. Throughout the novel, the two have disagreements as they attempt to work out their differences. This conflict is, in fact, well on its way to being solved by the end. The two have a daughter and are trying to make things work. Although they do not live together, the events that occur throughout the novel make their relationship stronger.

There are many love relationships throughout this story. There is, of course, Simon and Olivia, as well as Kwan and her husband George. In the flashbacks, or stories that Kwan tells, there are additional love relationships, including Miss Banner and Yiban. This is a tumultuous relationship and parallels that of Olivia and Simon. Throughout the novel, there is some antagonism between characters as well. The first of this is between Olivia and Kwan- completely one-sided, of course. It began when the two first met and Olivia did not like Kwan. This odd relationship continued until the trip to China, where Olivia learned to really appreciate her sister. The antagonism that existed was resolved by the end, but the beginning of their lives as sister was full of that one-sided dislike.

These three main characters have very different personalities. Olivia is a very cynical woman who has become disappointed with where her life is leading. She feels stuck in a way and wishes that she had something more exciting to look forward to. Simon, her husband, is a somewhat oblivious man who pretends that everything is just fine. He, of course, does not see the real issues but is aware that their relationship is not perfect. Finally, Kwan is the most unique of them all. She, while naïve at times, is very optimistic and believes in the power of destiny. Her belief is that Simon and Olivia will end up together and that all will end well. She displays a very distinct personality when compared to the other two main characters.

Olivia, Simon, and Kwan are three very idiosyncratic personalities that complement and change each other. They challenge and console one another. Their relationships, both with each other and with other characters in the novel, add to the plot and make the novel what it is. Olivia slowly discovers herself along a journey that Kwan made possible, helping to save her marriage to Simon and their ultimate happiness. These characters in The Hundred Secret Senses are dissimilar and complex characters that enrich the story.

Thesis Essay:

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan is a thought-provoking novel that explores the journey of love and acceptance. This begins with Kwan and Olivia’s relationship when they first meet. Kwan, a naïve and optimistic girl, is deaf to Olivia’s sarcasm and embarrassment. She continues to tell her of the ghosts that she both sees and speaks to. The dislike in this sisterhood is completely one-sided, with Kwan’s obvious love for Olivia from the start. She takes on the role of her mother, as Olivia’s real mother is not always there for her. While she treated Olivia with nothing but love, what she received was the opposite. Olivia was mean to her and often ignored her. When she did not know what a word was, Olivia would tell her the wrong one. For example, Kwan once wanted to know the word for pear, not knowing how to say it. Her sister told her that the word for it was barf. This was only the beginning, as the two had just met shortly before this. Olivia was still a young child in school and often embarrassed by Kwan.

When the two are adults, their relationship has not changed much. Olivia talked to Kwan on the phone out of duty and attended parties as if they were mandatory. When talking about her sister, she says, “I’m not saying I don’t love Kwan…. But I often feel bad that I don’t want to be close to her” (21). She obviously wishes that she wanted to be closer to her sister but cannot find it in her heart. Olivia thinks of her relationship with Kwan as a mere requirement, but this begins to change after she and Simon break up. When thinking about Kwan and their past together, she says:

I think about Kwan, how misplaced her love for me is. I never go out of my way to do anything for her unless it’s motivated by emotional coercion on her part and guilt on mine… I never take any pleasure in simply being nice to her… I’m no better than my mother! – careless about love. I can’t believe how oblivious I’ve been to my own cruelty. (154)

This is where Olivia begins to realize that she has not treated Kwan as kindly as she should have. Kwan has been nothing but nice to her and loved her as a sister. Shortly after this revelation, she speaks to Kwan on the phone, which brings up the idea of a trip to China.

During their trip, Olivia begins to really appreciate Kwan for all that she is and does. She sees that she has been unfair throughout their time together. While she did not always believe the ghost stories, and usually thought Kwan to be insane, she is starting to believe them. Olivia remembers dreams about what Kwan talks about, but now she cannot remember if they are dreams. When Kwan talks about Miss Banner and Nunumu and their friendship, Olivia feels as though she went through the same things. The stories begin to mean more to her and she realizes that even if they aren’t true, the parallelism to their sisterhood is still there. Throughout their journey and the novel as a whole, Olivia grows to appreciate and accept Kwan.

The theme of love and acceptance is also shown through Olivia and Simon’s relationship. At the beginning, she accepted his past with his girlfriend Elza. She realized that they had to move on in order for things to work. Of course, the faults in their marriage are seen throughout their fights and the impending divorce. The one fight that is really focused on is the one where Olivia explains what is really bothering her. She feels like they are trapped and going nowhere fast, saying, “I can see where we’re headed. I don’t want to become like those people we saw in the restaurant tonight- staring at their pasta, nothing to say to each other except, ‘How’s the linguini?’ As it is, we never talk, not really” (127). This is what really shakes up their marriage and ultimately leads to the divorce becoming a possibility. Simon was oblivious to what Olivia was feeling and actually believed that she was happy. While he did not ignore her unhappiness on purpose, she definitely felt that he was patronizing her and telling her that she was just in a funk.

What really brings these two together is the trip to China and the adventures that they go on while there. During this journey, Olivia and Simon talk out their differences in another attempt to work things out. Right before Simon became lost in the caves, they were discussing what went wrong. It is obvious that both had some desire to make things work. While Olivia had been putting up a façade of being one hundred percent okay, it is revealed throughout this trip that she is not fine. After returning to California, they attempt to make their relationship work. They now have a daughter and Simon sleeps over on the weekends. Things have not returned to normal yet, but Kwan has shown Olivia how to be open to things. She has realized that people change and that she should give Simon a chance. Olivia has accepted Simon and their relationship as it is and has become dedicated to becoming a family together.

This novel shows many instances of love and approval throughout the story. These characters have learned to adapt and accept one another. Olivia is the character who can be seen changing in this way during the trip to China and her life with Kwan and Simon. Kwan taught her how to be a better person and how to live openly. Now she remembers Kwan fondly, wishing that she had more time with her. Kwan taught her that “believing in ghosts- that’s believing that love never dies. If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses” (358). The theme of love and acceptance, while only one of many messages shown in this novel, is expressed beautifully throughout Olivia’s journey in finding herself. She learned to accept not only those around her, but also herself. Amy Tan creates a fantastic picture of self-exploration and acceptance in The Hundred Secret Senses.


Amy Tan’s The Hundred Secret Senses is a beautiful novel that explores the trials of relationships, both with family members and significant others. The characters that she has created are both realistic and utterly human. They are all completely different yet somehow linked to each other. Tan’s style adds to the story, making it her own and showing how one person can change the people around them. The story of Olivia, Kwan, and Simon, while not the typical story of family, is one that pushes the boundaries of the norm and shows how people change. People can learn to open their hearts and to accept others as well as they can. The Hundred Secret Senses is a moving novel that will be remembered as a story of self-exploration and a reminder that things are not always as they seem.

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An Analysis of the Story the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

The story, ‘The Joy Luck Club’ is divided into four sections, and each section with four stories inside observing the relationship between a mother and daughter. Resulting in sixteen stories in this book. This story is organized and divided in a way of how Chinese people play the game, known as mahjong. This story talks about the conflict between the Chinese mothers and their American raised daughters. There are four mothers and four daughters in this book. The characters are Suyuan Woo, Lindo Jong, Ying-ying St. Clair, An-Mei Hsu, June Woo, Waverly Jong, Lena St. Clair, and Rose Hsu.

Now here are some major themes in this story. This story focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters. The mothers are expected to listen to everything the husband says and to never challenge authority. But for the American daughters they are independent and mostly does the opposite on what the mothers do. Although the daughters and mothers’ cultures, traditions, country, are mostly different, what is not different is the relationship between each other. They are irrevocably connected.

The American dream is one of the major themes in this story. The American dreams are different generation after generation. For the mothers, it is creating a successful future with privileges, and for the daughters, it is to have freedom to do whatever they want with their opportunities and they could do whatever they want with it. The daughters are somehow disconnected with their Chinese background. And they also try their best to fit in.

The settings in this book is important that it counts as a theme. The settings shows the signs of feelings in one person. Love and marriage is also a theme in this novel. Another thing that the mothers and daughters have in common is that their marriages always ends up unhappy or bad. But marriage means different things in each generation. For the mothers, marriage means a responsibility. It is permanent and not usually based on love. They marry just because their parents wanted them to. For the daughters, marriage means marrying the person you love and being yourself. It is the time when you can feel free.

Language is an important part in this novel. As you should know, some of the characters are supposed to speak in Chinese. But no matter what language is spoken, it means a lot. Another thing the mothers and daughters have in common is that both of them believes in ghosts, spirits, and reading signs. The mothers think it’s necessary to teach the spiritual world to their daughters. The very last major theme is sacrifice and suffering. In this book, every person makes sacrifice for the ones they love, even though they have to suffer for it. Like the mothers sacrificing for their daughters.

After reading this novel, I learned more about the Chinese culture and their traditions. This story talks a lot about the Asian American cultures and the relationship between the mothers and their daughters

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Imigrants Challenges That Push Them To Seek The American Dream: The Joy Luck Club

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Thousands of immigrants arrive in America every year with the hope that a new life, a better life, awaits them. The come in search of “the American Dream,” the hope that there are higher paying jobs, quality public schools to send their children to, and a safer environment filled with opportunities and choices. Typically, immigrants make the long journey in hopes of creating a better future for their children so that they can grow up in a country where they only have to worry about earning good grades and qualifying for a decent job. The characters in The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan demonstrate these American dreams by providing insight into both their difficult pasts and their hopes for their children.

In The Joy Luck Club, Tan wrote about Chinese immigrants who are mothers to American-born daughters. The book focuses on the relationships between the mothers and the daughters, who just want to fit in with the rest of their American friends. The mothers always want their children to be the most successful, and tend to boast about their daughters’ accomplishments, often exaggerating them. For example, Waverly Jong was a chess prodigy during her childhood; she won multiple championships and was even on the news. Her Chinese mother, Lindo Jong, enjoyed bragging about her daughter’s victories to anyone who would listen, and she also liked to think that she also had a part in those victories. At the end of one particular tournament, she told Waverly, “Lost eight piece this time. Last time was eleven. What I tell you? Better off lose less!” (pg. 49). By making this remark, Lindo expresses how she feels responsible for the wins and how she likes to be involved in her daughter’s life. Lindo’s pride in Waverly’s accomplishments represents “the American dream” because she clearly did not say that comment for attention, although that is what Waverly assumes. She said it because she was proud of Waverly and felt that her daughter’s successes were also her successes. Tan thus reinstates the idea that immigrant parents want many opportunities for their children and feel great pride when the children do something that they didn’t even have the opportunity to do, which is one of the many reasons why they come to America.

Another way in which The Joy Luck Club represents “ the American dream” is by discussing the fact that many of the mothers immigrated in order to escape unsafe situations or to find a safer environment. Suyuan woo, Jing Mei “June” Woo’s mother, experiences a situation of this sort. Suyuan escaped a Chinese city name Kweilin when the Japanese army began bombing and invading the city. She had to abandon all of her possessions, even her two twin babies, on the side if the road while fleeing. She eventually meets a man, gets married, and moves halfway around the world to the United States for a better life. She fled China because she wanted not only herself, but her future children as well to be in a safer environment with fewer hardships. She didn’t want them to have to experience what she went through. She also tries to get June to be a prodigy like Waverly Jong, but couldn’t succeed because June didn’t seem to be interested in any of the proposed activities, including piano. June states, “My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America” (pg. 141). This expresses Suyuan’s belief in America’s ability to give everyone a chance at a better life despite past hardships. Even though June did not become a prodigy like her mother wanted her to be, the fact that it was even possible for June to take up almost any hobby she pleased is a lot more than what China had to offer at the time. Fortunately, Suyuan was able to escape and provide a safer environment filled with possibilities for her children.

“The American dream” is the hope of many people looking for “light at the end of the tunnel.” Whether it has to do with making a fortune with a new business in the land of opportunities, or simply being satisfied with life, it will continue to attract immigrants and opportunity-seekers. As demonstrated by The Joy Luck Club, the people who come looking for “the American dream” may be leaving behind so much from their past when coming to the United States. In the book, the mothers left behind family members, their languages, and even their culture, all to make sure their children have a chance to do what they couldn’t: follow their dreams.

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Literary Analysis Essay: Literary Devices in Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Everyone should have pride in their origins and should not be embarrassed of their nationality. Many people today do not embrace their background because they believe they do not fit in. These people must realize that self-confidence is only present after you understand your own identity. Amy Tan’s essay ‘Fish Cheeks’ explains the difficulty of deciphering where the determinant lies between fitting in and forgetting who we are by using literary elements like diction, imagery, and simile. Amy Tan’s word choice, or diction exposes the discomfort she has during the night of the dinner.

Tan writes, “A slimy rock cod with bulging fish eyes that pleaded not to be thrown into a pan of hot oil” (Tan P3). Her use of the word ‘bulging’ gives us a visual of the eyes of the fish. Instead of giving a detailed description of the eyes, she uses a singular word that allows us to visualize that the fish’s eyes were poking out. Tan also writes, “What would he think of our noisy Chinese relatives who lacked proper American manners” (Tan P2). Tan labels American manners as “proper” but describes her relatives and their Chinese customs as “noisy”. Her use of diction allows the readers to understand what she was feeling during this dinner. Sachwani 2 Tan also uses the aid of imagery to provide the reader with a more accurate depiction of the scenery of that night. But, Tan was not describing how she saw the food, but how she feared Robert would. “A plate of squid, their backs crisscrossed with knife markings so they resembled bicycle tires” (Tan P3). The use of imagery that describes ‘bicycle tires’ marked into the squids back allows the reader to visualize what the squid looked like on the dinner table. Tan’s use of imagery exemplifies her transmission of anxiety, then relief and acceptance to her audience throughout the text. Lastly, Tan uses simile to compare two unlike things using the words “like”, or “as”. When she was first describing the minister’s son, she lets us know that they are not of the same background. Tan writes, “He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger” (Tan P1). Tan’s description of Robert compares him to Virgin Mary.

She also makes the connection between to how pure Mary is to the boy. Tan uses this rhetoric strategy to persuade her audience by drawing them in and having them make connections they can easily relate to. Amy draws her readers in by reminding them of their crushes and how they would view them at the time. Most people tend to view their crushes to be perfect with no flaws, which in this case, to be pure. Amy Tan’s use of simile allows her to compare two completely different things very closely. Despite all of the hardships people go through, we must all understand that you cannot forget your origin and where you come from. At first, Amy feels shame over the differences between her family and Robert’s family. However, after her mother’s lesson, she discovered that rather than allowing others’ responses to lead her to shame, she should be proud of her different heritage and culture.

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The Role Of Mother In “Without Wood” By Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

In the short story “Without Wood” by Amy Tan, Rose Hsu Jordan feels like she listened to other people more than her mom, and ended up with a mind full of other peoples’ English thoughts, leaving her confused and unreadable to her own mother. Rose Hsu Jordan wavers between hostility, distress, and relief about her impending divorce. Rose’s mother, An-mei believes Rose’s uncertainty comes from the fact that she’s “without wood. “If you bend to listen to other people, you will grow crooked and weak, ” An-mei says. Rose is finally able to hear her mother’s advice and listens to it instead of ignoring it. Rose is now able to make a decision about her marriage with Ted and about her home, but she also comes to accept herself as a person who is “without wood. ”

When Rose was a child, her mother told her people without wood, one of the five elements that make up each person according to Chinese tradition, spread themselves like weeds in every direction only to be thrown away in the end. Rose tells Ted, “You can’t just pull me out of your life and throw me away”, and in her dreams she extends the same respect to her garden. The weeds in her dream garden run rampant, representing both her control over her circumstances and her acceptance of herself exactly the way she is. She sees something beautiful in the weeds even if others do not. It is not coincidental that her mother appears in the dream, having planted the weeds “this morning, some for you, some for me”.

Rose is having a dream about the dolls and the sand boxes in where Old Mr. Chou is chasing her and saying, “See what happens when you don’t listen to your mother. And Rose became paralyzed, too scared to move in any direction”. Rose doesn’t know where to go in her divorce, she doesn’t know what she wants and what to do. Her mother has been trying to tell her what she should do this whole time, but Rose hasn’t been listening to her because she thinks that her mother is just going to tell her to try to save her marriage. An-mei says “I’m not telling you to save your marriage. I only say you should speak up”. An-mei is the only one who can snap Rose out of her depression, because they have a bond that goes beyond any other relationship. An-mei wants her daughter to voice her fears, and not be silent as past generations of women have been forced to be. When Rose listens to her mother and speaks to Ted about the divorce, she finally knows what she wants. After listening to her mother, she finally knows where she wants to go and what she wants to do in this divorce of hers. Rose faces a conflict with herself. She struggles with the concept of having “wood, ” as she is not accustomed to making her own decisions and opinions. It is apparent that Rose confuses even herself. She speaks differently to her friends and to her psychiatrist about the divorce. When An-mei says “phycheattrics will only make you hulihudu, make you see heimongmom, ” she is trying to hint that the only person in her life that can make her truly feel better inside is her mother, because she knows best, and physiatrists only trick you to get their money. Eventually she realizes her vulnerability to Ted and learns to stand up for herself.

Throughout her whole marriage, Rose never made any decisions, she always let Ted decide. Then, when Ted wants a divorce so that he can marry someone else, he says that he’ll give her some time to find a new place to live. Rose answers that she already found one and says she will stay here. Rose finds help from her mother in her time of most need. She is going through a divorce and even though she never really connected with her mother, her words had reached her and helped her fight Ted. Ted was practically throwing her out of his life. “You must stand tall and listen to your mother standing next to you”, was said by Rose’s mother. She believed that she was always right and that Rose must obey her. Rose’s mother was right about Rose having to speak out on her divorce. Her mother told her that she was confused and that she needed to speak out. Even though Rose, like all her Americanized friends, does not connect with her mother, it is still her mom that tells her what she needs to do and gives her courage to do so Rose and An-Mei develop an even stronger, closer relationship in the duration of Rose’s divorce.

Like always, An-Mei gives her daughter valuable advice, helping her through tough times. It is as if An-Mei is Rose’s “wood”. Although Rose acknowledges her mother’s concern, she does not entirely believe and put into action her mother’s words and suggestions. When Rose’s disbelief toward Ted doing “monkey business” with another woman is undermined, she realizes the truth and wisdom in her mother’s admonishment. It is not until she sees for herself how weak she is, how “without wood” she is being, does she finally stand up for herself and speak up to Ted. With the help of her mother, Rose is able to pull through her divorce.

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“Broken English” on the Example of the Novel “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

‘Broken English,’ is what’s spoken in many homes throughout America. People that come from a different country and settle in a new one are categorized as immigrants. With that being said, once you settle into a different country then you have to get accustomed to the culture, language, and people overall.

Amy Tan is a Chinese-American novelist that mainly writes about relationships between a mother and daughter. Tan grew up in a home where Chinese is her first language; therefore, her mother’s English wasn’t all so great. People had difficulty trying to understand her mother because she spoke ‘broken English.’ Broken English is defined as poorly spoken English. When Tan would communicate with her mother, she spoke the English language like her and realized that “Englishes,” were spoken differently on behalf of herself and others. She realized that she spoke the English language differently depending on who she was talking to and who was around.

In the essay ‘Mother Tongue,’ Tan examines and observes how she speaks English, for she believes that language is fascinating and thinks back to how her background has shaped who she is. As for any child of an immigrant, it has brought her shame once, but she learns how to embrace her background and not be ashamed of who she is or where she comes from. Tan does a good job of explaining her experiences with her mother’s English and this helps immigrants relate to it and helps them know that it is okay to speak “broken English” because you can still communicate effectively and if you don’t let yourself be held back you can impact people in ways others think you can’t. Tan recognized that as a writer, language is used as a tool in pieces of writings. This started when she was giving a talk about her novel, The Joy Club. Before that, she had given versions of that talk before, but this time it did feel a bit strange. Tan states “Recently, I was made keenly aware of the different Englishes I do use. I was giving a talk to a large group of people the same talk I have already given to a half dozen other groups”. This reveals how switching between Englishes has become second nature. Her English was proper and nothing like the English she spoke to her mother, and she realized that when her mother was in the room. Later on, she realizes that the English that is spoken within her family is ‘broken’ and that it replicated the anomaly of a native speaker/immigrant who learned English as an adult rather than a child. There are several themes expressed in this essay, one of them is shame. Her mother’s English caused her embarrassment when she was younger.

As any child whose parent doesn’t speak English, she had to intervene so the other person could understand her mother more. Tan talked about a story of when she was on the phone and acted like her mother, and she was communicating with her mother’s stockbroker about a missing check. Tan herself writes “When I was fifteen, she used to have me call people on the phone to pretend I was she.”. She had to sound like her mother, and you could feel and see how she struggled as her mom was in the background telling her what to say. The man she was talking to was not fooled, and Tan felt such shame. She knew that this was not going to be the first or last time her mom asks her to do this. Later on that day, they see that man in person, and her mom starts yelling at him in her ‘broken’ English, and he was surprised because she was yelling at him in a heavy accent. She sounded nothing like she did on the phone. This quote emphasizes how difficult learning a new language is, my mother has been in the United States for 19 years, and her English still isn’t perfect. I know precisely how Tan feels when it comes to this topic, and it can be a little aggravating at times, but I learned not to be embarrassed by it anymore.

Tan was left wondering if the way her family spoke English set a limit on her opportunities in life. After being at the hospital with her mom, Tan says “I think my mother’s English almost affected limiting my possibilities in life as well”. Society tells you that “broken English” holds you back, with the tests they make you take and people who of influence can tell you how certain people impact your English poorly. This quote reveals the struggles of having to use different Englishes and how the thought of it putting a boundary on possibilities can be anchoring. Tan also acknowledges how Asian Americans tend to be better at math rather than English and teachers notice that and steer them away from getting better at it and focus on their strengths. When realizing that Asian Americans do better in math than English Tan begins to think “There are other Asian-Americans students whose English spoken in the home might also be described as ‘broken.’ Perhaps they also have teachers who are steering them away from writing and into math and science”(3). Most Asian-Americans shared the same experience Tan did, of having teachers “steering them away” from something they’re bad at and letting them stay that way. This quote reveals that it isn’t just the way she speaks to her family that limits her opportunities in life but also the people that are supposed to be helping her advance. Fortunately, she didn’t let that be the case for long, and she went on to major in English and wrote books. One of which was explicitly intended for her mother to read with ease.Tan uses all three of Aristotle’s rhetorical styles in her essay “Mother Tongue.”

Ethos is used in the first couple of paragraphs to establish her identity as a writer. For example, she says “I am not a scholar of the English literature. I am a writer,” to earn the reader’s respect. Logos is also used by explaining how her mother would have her call and complain to people or ask for information over the phone. Tan mostly uses pathos in her essay to appeal to the readers emotions. An example of her pathos style is when she informs the reader about her mother’s tumor “…the hospital did not apologize when they said that they lost the CT scan they did not seem to have sympathy when she told them she was anxious to know the exact diagnosis…” Tan significantly balances each part of the rhetorical triangle as each element is ultimately led to creating a very effective thought provoking essay. Tan experiences a lot with the English language but most importantly reflects on herself. Tan realizes how different it is for immigrants and the difficulty of communicating between the proper and broken language spoken in that country. She realized that one shouldn’t feel ashamed for having to speak broken English because there is more joy in communicating effectively with someone close than having others approval. Tan strived to better her English but ultimately wanted to publish something her mother could easily understand no matter what others thought of it. She believes there’s beauty in language, and learns to embrace her cultural background. Tan overall believed because her mother’s communication skills were weak that meant that her thoughts were unclear. She learns to not be ashamed because of her “Mother Tongue.”

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How Cultural Differences Complicate Mother-daughter Relationship as Illustrated in the Joy Luck Club

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Intergenerational relations between mothers and daughters are further complicated in The Joy Luck Club as cultural differences come into play for the first generation Chinese immigrant mother and her Americanized daughter. This is clearly brought out when Lindo Jong shows off her daughter at the market, announcing “to whoever looked her way” that “this is [her] daughter Wave-ly Jong” (90), but her behavior is only met with resentment from Waverly as she wished her mother “wouldn’t do that” (91) and sees accompanying her to the market as a “duty [she] couldn’t avoid” (90). Using this scene, Tan plays out the mother-daughter tension, as Lindo’s older generation Chinese mindset that a child’s success is a reflection of good parenting comes clashes with Waverly’s Americanized thinking that one’s success belongs to one alone. The daughter’s struggle for a separate identity from her mother brings forth the idea that the older generation views a mother and daughter as one entity, but through young Waverly’s western perspective, this is a threat to her individuality, apparent when she retorts to Lindo “if you want to show off, then why don’t you learn to play chess” (91). The distance between the pair is two-fold, as not only is Lindo older than Waverly, thus causing a generation gap, she is also from the Old World and brings with her Chinese ways that Waverly is unable to relate to. The first and second generation Chinese Americans are represented through Lindo and Waverly Jong as Tan attributes the lack of understanding between the two as a cultural difference rather than a generational one.

Intergenerational tension is also shown through Waverly’s difficulty in reconciling and relating to Lindo’s seemingly mysterious power over her. This is best portrayed when Waverly imagines her mother as a chess opponent to be merely “two angry black slits” (92), failing to even give her a proper physical form, but the latter has such great power over her chess pieces that they “screamed as they scurried and fell off the board one by one”. When Waverly pictures her mother saying “strongest wind cannot be seen” (92) in the final page of this section, the reader gets the sense that Lindo‘s mastery of “the art of invisible strength” (80) is one that is incomprehensible to her daughter because logic fails to explain why it is so immense that it can determine the failure or success of her actions. Lindo’s possession of this great power and her omnipotence is, in Waverly’s eyes, associated with qualities not only of the older generation, but also of the Old World as she emphasizes how this concept is said “In Chinese” (80). This gives the connotation that the idea was conceived in ancient China and back in those times when Lindo could express it in her mother tongue without a need for translation like in America now. Here, Tan brings out the seemingly impossible task of bridging the gap between the first generation immigrants and their children as they are like chess opponents with “clashing ideas” (85).

With undertones of intergenerational relations, the feminist notion of mothers empowering daughters is highlighted as Lindo imparts the rules of life to Waverly. When Lindo teaches Waverly “the art of invisible strength” (80), the latter only realizes the truth in her mother’s teaching when she started playing chess at an older age as she “discovered that for the whole game one must gather invisible strength” (86) to win her opponent and subsequently, the battles in life. The fact that Waverly is eventually able to put into practice what her mother taught her hints at a subtle form of reconciliation across the two generations, and Tan is perhaps trying to make the point that although it might never be possible for the two to gain absolute access to each other, there are elements of the ‘old way’ that will still be fused with mindset of the younger generation. From this example, it is also evident that the mother figure plays a central role in influencing the daughter’s perspective, imparting enduring Chinese ideas of human will which Waverly later referred to as a wind that “whispered secrets only [she] could hear” (88) to succeed at chess. By emphasizing the importance of learning “this American rules” (85), Lindo empowers Waverly with the knowledge that she “must know rules” (85) because it is necessary to adapt to the white dominant culture in order to survive in the American society. Tan uses this “invisible strength” as a representation of a power the older generation females possess that can shape and control events. Using this, females like Lindo and Waverly Jong become empowered and are able to exert influence on their circumstances, thereby subverting the structure of patriarchy.

Tan writes Waverly and her brothers as “peer[ing]” (81) into a shop and observing old Li, giving the reader the impression that the younger generation is literally looking at the older generation through a window and the only way they can gain understanding of them is by taking note of their actions and behaviors. Waverly expresses doubt at the idea of the older Chinese generation being able to triumph western rules when she opens her sentence with “it was said that” old Li’s medical practices can do better than “the best of American doctors” (81), showing how the younger generation is apprehensive of the ways of their elders. By looking in at them through a glass, the older generation seems to have become the exotic other in the American society. Thus they are not only alien to the white Americans, but to the second generation Chinese Americans as well. In the same way, when Lindo looks at the chess instructions in English but appears to “search deliberately for nothing in particular” (85), she is trying to get a grasp of the American culture at large but is limited by her lack of language skills. This exemplifies that the inaccessibility of the other generation goes both ways, as it is not only Waverly who is unable to comprehend her mother and the first generation Chinese immigrants, the latter is similarly not able to understand the former. It is also interesting to note that the act of watching is also reversed and acted out on the American children of the Chinese immigrants, shown when a Caucasian man took a photo of Waverly and her friends with “the roasted duck with its head dangling from a juice-covered rope” (82), as if they personify elements of the Chinese culture. This could be Tan’s attempt to bring out to the reader that people like Waverly who are Asian but American born and bred, are stuck in a space of in-between-ness because they belong to neither culture, causing them to grow up in an environment of uncertainty thus the empowerment of the daughters by their mothers become all the more important in establishing a stable identity.

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Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan

June 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Not all people whose English as a second language speak it in the same way. This argument made by Amy Tan throughout in the story “Mother Tongue”. In the essay, she successfully expresses all three of rhetorical styles such as logos, ethos, and pathos. Tan also balances each part of the rhetorical triangle very effective and thoughtful essay.

First, the author uses logos and reasoning in her essay. An example is when she explains how her mom would have her call to ask for information, and people in, banks, restaurants, and department stores would not take her mother seriously. The essay might well be aimed at people who got to take care of their parents as if they are exchanging roles with parents. At a young age, Amy Tan had to handle situations. She was the middle person between her mom and another people who had no ideas what her mom says. Because Tan’s mother expressed words in an imperfect, Amy Tan stated that her thoughts were also imperfect either. As a person who lives in dual language, Tan argued that a person’s limitation on language does not reflect their perspective on society or events of the world.

Secondly, the author uses ethos to present the idea that social expectations should not negatively influence one’s perception. She thinks the standardized tests are not able to accurately determine a person’s intelligence. It is unfair because there are many different type of intelligence people and people have different ways of thinking. As Tan was growing up, her speech and what she was taught from her family affected her life. In the story, she describes the relationship between her and mother, who speaks “broken” English. Furthermore, family environment affected her results at school. Many other Asians in the U.S are also having suffered the similar problem, and have teachers ‘who are steering them away from writing and into math and science’. Overall, Amy Tan wants to say that just because someone cannot speak English perfectly, it does not mean in anyways else would make them less intelligent than other people who are born in this country, who understand and speak English fluently. It is like a quote ‘We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way.’ We all have similarities but our differences help define us. However, the author’s mother was judged by her language. She also saw her mother was disrespected because of her incorrect grammar and wrong use of words. Through the ‘Mother Tongue’, the author wants to send a powerful message of how we ought to view people by their beautiful side and not by their shortcomings. There is a quote “We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way. Everyone has a message to say, it may be different from yours, and it might be grammatically incorrect but it does not make the message wrong.

Finally, Tan uses pathos to appeal to readers’ emotions. An example is when she notifies to readers about her mother’s tumor. The hospital did not apologize when they said they had lost the CT scan. They also did not seem to have any sympathy when she was anxious to know the exact diagnosis. Because of the neglect and little care the hospital had for Tan’s mom, and if she hadn’t had anyone to call and speak for her, the sickness would potentially progress and no one would know about it.

In conclusion, through the different rhetorical strategies, Amy Tan successfully explains the language barrier in the U.S has limited success and prosperity levels for non-English speakers. Proper communication skills are vital for thoughts, emotions, and ideas otherwise one might be perceived wrongfully.

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